Nier was a game defined by its weirdness and lack of polish and this demo has kept the weird, but added some much needed polish. The movement isn’t as snappy as Bayonetta 2 or even DMC 3 or 4, but that’s probably to account for the fact this is an action RPG and not pure character action. That said the movement and combat still feels polished to a mirror sheen. Your attacks flow well in feel and animation, and your traversal of the environment is floaty but still feels great. You have a floating robot companion who assists you both in narrative and gameplay. The robot appears to be taking the place of magic from NieR. In this demo all he has is a quick bullet spray and a charged laser blast but I assume he’ll get more in the full game. You only have two weapons in the demo: a quick sword and a heavy sword and both feel great. But the standout combat mechanic to me was the dodge. Instead of tapping a button and moving stiffly in whatever direction you were holding your dodge is now a short dash that you have control over. This means dealing with those bullet hell-esque projectile attacks is both easier and more complicated since you can’t mash dash to get through them but you can weave your way through more complex patterns. Bullet hell attack patterns were one of the weirdest quirks of Nier and one of the others were the shifts from 3D control to 2D (overhead and sideways) platformer camera perspectives. If this demo is anything to go by we can expect many more of these sections.
The final taste of Automata we get from this demo is its story and world. The demo isn’t even an hour long but it’s enough to raise more questions than answers. The two characters are fairly well established in under an hour and there’s ample room for them to grow over the course of the game. And do you even have to ask if the music is good? The demo is free to download on PS4 and requires a little over four gigs to install. If you have any interest in action games or weird but compelling stories I’d highly recommend giving the demo a shot. And if you’re on the fence, THIS:
might help you make up your mind one way or another. As of right now NieR: Automata and Persona 5 are my most anticipated games of 2017. NieR Automata releases March 7, 2017 in North America.