The Genius Of Nier

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Too long. Luckily, Nier Automata isn’t out yet, so I can talk about this hot keyword and get some free traffic going my way.

Let’s get something out of the way first: I LOVE the original Nier. Videogame storytelling simply cannot get better. There are games with better stories, but I have never seen a game tell a good story this effectively.

I originally went into Nier for the hell of it. Having picked up a PS3 relatively late in its life, I hunted for the action RPGs that my PC platform lacked. The game looked and sounded unusual, so I thought “why not?” Initially disappointed, I pressed through regardless, encouraged by claims that it gets better. Oh, it does, and how.

It was about halfway through that I realized that Nier was part of my favorite piece of insanity: the Drakengard franchise. I honestly couldn’t tell. The characters were eccentric, the music was brilliant, and the budget was wonky, but other than that, it seemed as if they were not cut from the same cloth at all.

To illustrate, Drakengard games are like a crazy ex: full of great traits you can’t find anywhere else, but just don’t work in the end. Sure, you might remember the good times, but going for a replay inevitably leads to ruin. There is a kind of warped beauty about them, but no one in their right mind would ever call them good.

Nier, on the other hand, is that girl who looks great from afar, but reveals more and more imperfections when you get close. Most people would run away screaming at that point, but those with the tenacity to spend some time with her would learn that she could make them happy in a way no one else could.

Indeed, roughness almost killed this game dead. Now considered a cult classic, it struggled with sales back in the day. Lazy, partial reviews by major gaming press didn’t help as well, but talking about that alone would take too long.

But how does it tie into Drakengard, you ask? Oooof… this will take a while. After the final, joke ending of the original Drakengard, the final boss of that game enters our world and decomposes. Sadly, it also releases a disease that either kills people or turns them into mind-controlled monsters (their choice). The body of Caim’s dragon is recovered by the Japanese government and experimented on, becoming a source of magic. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

A man (or very young man in the Japanese version) defends a little girl from what appear to be ghosts. He uses the power of a strange talking book to beat them away, but his daughter/sister (again, depending on version) seems to succumb to the disease.

Papa Nier, Badass, Altruism, Big Sword, Huge Weapon, White Hair, Dead, Delete Save

Papa Nier

The game then jumps one thousand three hundred and twelve years later, to apparently reveal the same pair of people, now living in what seems to be a post-apocalyptic (but still lush and green) land. The man (named Nier by default) is kind of a protector of their town, and defends it from the ghosts in the intro (called Shades by the villagers). Shades speak an incomprehensible language and are entirely malicious.

Yonah, Nier's daughter, sister, baggage, little girl

Yes, she’s wearing a drape.

The girl (named Yonah) doesn’t seem to have gotten over her sickness over the course of a millennium, so she can barely do anything at all. This is the part where the previously-mentioned imperfections play a large part. About half of the game is essentially a series of fetch quests and world-building. This pays off later, but is mostly agonizing early on.

Grimoire Weiss, Talking Book, Magic, Liam O'Brien, Snark

The expression says it all.

Through circumstances too complicated to explain, Nier gains possession, or rather companionship of another talking book. It calls itself Grimoire Weiss, and seems to be lacking a good part of its knowledge. Luckily, this knowledge can be recovered, so Nier uses Weiss to cast an ever-expanding assortment of spells throughout the game. Weiss is also quite a bit of a wise-ass, providing most of the game’s humor. Calling it Liam O’Brien’s greatest role would not be a stretch.

Kaine, Hermaphrodite, Saw swords, Companion, Shade, Possessed

No words for this character design.

As Nier continues his fetch-quests (most of these are aimed at helping people, but a lot produce nothing but tragedy), he comes across a hermit of a girl who calls herself Kaine. Kaine is a foul-mouthed, lovable minx who is on the hunt for a gargantuan shade that killed her grandma. Also, she may or may not have a penis. Overall, a charming person. She and Nier team up (her exchanges with Weiss are nothing but brilliant) and she eventually gets her revenge, but it soon becomes apparent that she is also partially possessed by a Shade. In time, she would become one herself.
Overall, Kaine was a lot of fun, and I loved the time she spent on the screen. Another performance of a career, this one from Laura Bailey.

Nier Emil, Skeleton, Moon face, Magic weapon, Sacrifice, Tragic

Cute little bugger. Right?

Saying who the fourth party member is would a major spoiler, so let’s just put his picture up here for the sake of completeness. Plenty of places on the internet with info on that guy. I’ll just say that his highlight scenes are among the most intense in the game.

In fact, saying pretty much anything beyond what I just did would completely ruin the experience for whoever was lucky to have yet to play it. Nier is tragic, immersive, and witty in a way very few games from Japan are. Not saying that Japan’s lacking in wits, it’s just that something tends to get lost in the translation. In this case, that didn’t happen. Everything about the localization is just about perfect.

Let’s leave it at that.

I know. I’ve already spoiled Drakengard 1& 2, so why not Nier? I’m not so sure I know the answer, but I’ll try to give one regardless. It was Nier that showed me that the people who made this just might in fact know what they are doing. It becomes hard to mock the craft of someone capable of taking you for a ride, turning the whole thing up on its head, and ending it all by wounding you horribly. Yet you somehow don’t hate them for it. In fact, you want more.

Thank you, Yoko Taro. Thank you for this work of genius. And fuck you. You know why.
M. T. Miller

Advertisements

Ascent Going On Promo!

Apparently, I didn’t know how Kindle Countdown Deals work.

Or I did, but didn’t know they had to be scheduled separately for both stores. Sorry about that, my UK readers.

I’ve now scheduled a new promo that will run in the UK store, all the way through February the 16th. I won’t fail to run both Countdowns simultaneously in the future.

Sorry about that,
M. T. Miller

Storyline Evolution

My story is changing. It is still fundamentally the same thing, but, just like its writer, it keeps shifting to adapt to foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. For now, I like what I see. Time will tell how it will all play out in the end.

Strife is moving forward, yes, and it is also devouring pieces from the planned fourth book. Plot lines and characters I have planned to introduce much farther down the line are already making their respective appearances. I think I like this. It makes for a more dynamic story. The downside of this is likely to come into play when the time comes to write the actual fourth book. It might cannibalize parts of book five.

We shall see what comes of it. For now, I’m making the best book I can. I plan on doing the same with everything I write.

That’s more or less it. The frequency of my future posts here will most likely remain irregular for the time being.

All the best, my friends.
M. T. Miller

Lagging Behind

Hi, everyone.

Apologies for taking so long to update. Real life has swamped me, and what little time I’ve had to spare, I’ve spent writing. Not that I’ve made that much progress, but I do genuinely like the material I’ve produced thus far.

What I’m working on is, of course, Strife: Third Book of the Nameless Chronicle. Meant to be the climax of everything I’ve written thus far, Strife has a huge task in front of itself. I am doing my best to not only reproduce the quality of Ascent, but raise the bar higher and leap over it successfully. Whether or not I’ll be able to do it, time will tell.

This doesn’t mean that Strife will end the series, though. I’ve originally had a total of seven books planned, and I do plan on telling the whole story without cutting anything out. However, the individual books have gotten so big and complex that I’ve ended up fusing some story arcs together. Right now, the Nameless Chronicle is meant to run for a total of five major books. There might be some more spinoffs, though. Like the one I did about Rush.

I’m still sticking to my previous plans for a June release, although who knows. If I have myself a good month or two, I might finish it sooner. Then again, it is possible that I’ll just take my time and iron it out more.

This is a long while, I know. I’d like to be able to write it faster, but life simply doesn’t allow it at this point.

Thank you for your time. Stay strong.
M. T. Miller