NieR Replicant: An Emotional Journey

I’ve gotten past the first part of NieR: Replicant and I wanted to highlight why I love Yoko Taro’s games. Both NieR: Automata and NieR Replicant have these very emotional stories that can be sad, but beautiful. Yoko Taro said in an interview with The Guardian that, “the reason why there are so many characters who suffer in my games … is that I want to show reality … The reason my games are chaotic is that the world is chaotic, not me. I don’t aim for bad endings – they just naturally come out.” This quote basically sums up what it is like to experience any game of his. There will be moments of hope, but also moments of sorrow. I found this game to be very comforting to play since it has beautiful environments and a lovely soundtrack. The story and the quests are my favorite parts of this game. Spoilers of Part One of the game!

Plot

Nier, the protagonist you can name, has a sick sister named Yonah. He is a very caring and sweet brother who wants nothing more than to cure his sister’s illness. Unfortunately, she is cursed with the Black Scrawl, which will slowly kill her over time. A talking book called Grimoire Weiss states that defeating the Scrawled Verses and Grimoire Noir should cure her.

In terms of plot, this story is already very sad. The disease Yonah has is possibly incurable so you have to watch this young girl suffer. They do not have a family so they’re young and on their own. There’s already a strong chance this won’t end well because so far the Black Scrawl just kills everyone.

Side Content

There are a lot of side quests in this game. There are some that are relaxing ones like the fishing side quests where it’s just Nier and the open water fishing. There are also your average fetch quests like get 10 mutton to feed someone’s kids. There’s even some funny parts in this game such as being put in the middle of an arguing couple and having to decide who is right or wrong and you don’t have a choice. The most memorable so far was the one that had me crying. This quests centers on one old woman who lives in a light house.

Before this quest begins, Nier is introduced to her. She yells at him and she’s very nasty; demanding that he help her. She just comes off as rude. Then Nier gets a quest to deliver mail to her. The postman has a bad leg and can’t deliver mail so Nier delivers it and she’s mad that her mail is late, but later calms down. It’s then that you find out that her husband is far away from her and she misses him dearly. He keeps writing to her, but she hasn’t seen him in years.

But, this story has a few twists. Nier finds out out that the is dying, but not from old age. She has been infected by the Black Scrawl and her last wish is to leave town and see her husband. But, she can’t leave because no one else can operate the lighthouse. Except that’s not the real truth. The real truth is her husband has been dead for decades and all this time the postman and his father have been writing her letters so she’ll still think he’s alive. Her dying wish cannot be fulfilled as her husband is no longer alive.

Then, you have to choose whether to tell her or not what the truth is. She’s dying so you can choose to tell a dying woman her husband is dead or let her believe he is alive until she passes. I told her the truth and she softened up. She was touched that the villager’s tried to keep him alive, but admitted deep down that she knew that it wasn’t really him writing the letters. She feels at peace knowing the truth and the quest ends announcing that she has passed away.

The reason why this was so memorable was how emotional it was. I went from not liking this woman to feeling so sad that she was not only infected with a terrible disease that she hid from everyone, but she also could not see her husband last time. I did not regret telling her the truth because I thought it might be comforting to know her husband would be there to welcome her when she passed. The mini story drove home the emotional ending with a song I’ll talk about later that plays whenever a sad event happens in the game.

Characters

Nier and Yonah

Nier and Yonah are siblings with Nier being the older brother. It is implied that Yonah has been sick for a very long time and Nier has been looking for a cure. Nier is kind and caring. He looks after people in the village and is always willing to help others (which annoys Grimoire Weiss). Yonah longs for a normal life and sometimes feels like she is a burden on her brother always being sick. She also longs to spend more time with him, but he is usually out looking for a cure for her.

Kainé

Kainé comes across as a rough character. She is the only one in the game who swears and she comes up with some really good phrases. She is infected with a Black Scrawl that has taken over one of her arms. She wants revenge on one Sealed Verse. After that she just wants to give up, but Nier convinces her to keep going and he becomes her first real friend. Unfortunately, Kainé is overtaken by the Black Scrawl while trying to stop another Sealed Verse and she is petrified by Emil. Currently, Nier is trying to find a cure for her. The sweetest part of Kainé comes out when she tells Emil to not feel bad about himself because of his cursed eyes and tells him about her arm. She gives the boy hope.

Emil

Emil is a child who was cursed with eyes that can turn people to stone. He is forced to walk around blindfolded. Nier is asked by Emil’s butler to help him. Emil is afraid of hurting people and he seems like a sweet, shy kid. He warns Nier to not go near him so he won’t accidentally turn him to stone. Nier finds the cure, but at this time it needs translated so Emil still can’t take off his blindfold just yet. Emil is unfortunately forced to use his powers to save the village where Nier is at; imprisoning Kainé. Emil had to see Yonah kidnapped, Nier get stabbed, and had to petrify his best friend so this kid has witnessed a lot of suffering and it’s only the first half of the game.

Music

The music in this game is phenomenal, I love the vocals and how the music clearly conveys emotions. The lyrics in this game are a made up language so they don’t really translate to anything so the singer and the melody have to work in harmony to invoke an emotional response from the player. When you’re in the village, a soothing melody plays that is also important to the story as it tells the story of Grimoire Weiss and Grimoire Noir.

My favorite piece is the most emotional. This is the song I mentioned earlier that plays whenever something sad happens. It’s name is “Kainé ~ Salvation”. The lyrics might be essentially gibberish, but the emotions conveyed by the vocalist and the instruments portray a song of longing and heartbreak. I’ve heard this song so many times in this game that as soon as I hear it I start crying and I either have seen something sad or I know something sad will happen soon like when it played during the finale of Part One.

Beautiful Tragedy

I think this is what I would use to sum up how I feel about this game so far. There’s some sad moments in this game especially that part one finale. I mean I needed time to process what happened because Kainé’s Black Scrawl was taking over and Emil petrified her. Yonah was taken. Nier was stabbed and I was afraid he was going to die. There is hope that Kainé might be able to be free, but knowing the creator I doubt this will end happy. But, I do like that he is able to tell these sad stories and they’re beautiful between the complex characters, the beautiful music, and the long journey the characters go on. A small side note that helps with the journey is both games I have played with a friend. I gave my friend the game for his birthday since it was right around release date so we talk about the story. He already beat it so he knows a lot more than I do, but it also makes it memorable when you play with a friend!

Have you played Nier Replicant or any Yoko Taro game?