Nier: To Save Us From the Haunting Past They Shall Know Despair

Spoilers for Nier Replicant/Gestalt including Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139…

Nier Replicant is Yoko Taro’s tale of the Human species hopelessly intertwined and haunted by our history.

The story of Nier Replicant was born off a spoof ending of the first Drakengard which was the beginning of Yoko Taro’s debut into high-fantasy that heavily weighed the impact of war and the dance of normal humans. Where fans found the story attractively grimdark Yoko Taro stated he simply is trying to portray how he thinks normal people would exist in such a world. Magical forces exist as natural disasters whereas conflicts and plots are born from humans. The fantasy world shapes how humans are formed physically, how they behave and treat those around them are inspired by the traits of the people Yoko Taro sees in our real world.

Fighting the Queen Beast whose infectious corpse begins the extinction of modern humans

Yoko Taro has said he doesn’t intend for his stories to be tragic, he is writing characters how he believes people would behave when facing the depths of human conflict. 

“That being said, what led to creating such a sad drama is the idea of wanting to make a more normal story. It wasn’t meant to be an especially sad story, but the previous series, Drakengard, was extremely graphic and extremely cruel. Compared to that, we wanted to reel it in a little bit, make it a bit more normal, so to speak.”

Yoko Taro

For the story, he likes to imagine the outcome of a world and then think of the motivations that could have caused that event to transpire. It’s not as unorthodox as it may sound. Plenty of Sci-Fi stories will take place in a future condition of the earth and build a timeline of global events that lead to that environment. It’s not uncommon in current events either. What is more human than looking at someone’s actions and trying to understand the motivations and environment to lead them to that outcome? To speculate motive and find a part of oneself in another’s actions or emotions is the form of empathy. If love is too warped a way to describe the obsession with human tales perhaps we can call this interest an “unending fascination” of people.

For Nier Replicant or its counterpart Nier Gestalt the central story is built from unique individuals struggling against cruel circumstances to protect the people dear to them. The entire fantasy behind the story itself is born from a disease brought over from the Drakengard world that turned humans into salt. The only option humanity had at the time to save themselves was to separate their souls from their bodies and become shades so they may be resurrected. This leads to the conflict between the shades and the replicant humans who were originally built as cloned vessels have now developed their own sentience. Shades slowly losing their sanity begin attacking replicants in hopes to gain their bodies back however the replicants naturally defend themselves leading to endless escalating war leaving mass casualties of both humans. 

In the end, it’s hard to lack sympathy for most of the conflict, occasionally you will find murder-happy killers and feral beasts but everyone else has a reason they are fighting for, it’s almost always to protect the people close to them. Because of an inability or unwillingness due to grief or circumstance neither faction backs down. In the end, everyone is a fool hopelessly trying to protect the lives around them but their circumstances have them feeding their own destruction.

The central plot of the story that the player physically encounters is that between Nier, his sister, and Nier’s ancient Shade counterpart. They are almost identical in essence, both willing to slay whatever monsters are in their way and journey to the ends of earth and time to see their sister safe and by their side. The Shade Nier is trying to restore his sister but is trampling the lives of the replicants and their own copies to do so. Replicant Nier in retaliation and to rescue his sister destroys the Shade Nier whose existence keeps every other shade from falling mad and thus harkens the final end to the human species.

The strange thing is that at every turn every character involved has a peaceful resolution to their options but every time the inability to communicate and the grievance they hold pushes them to respond in the most forceful way. The characters aren’t portrayed as ignorant or arrogant, rather naive and hurt acting on the only information they have available to them and according to what will ensure their self-security. Each character is shown consequences for their own actions but they are always given sympathy when their actions are driven by well-meaning intentions or deep emotional reasoning.

Whereas Nier Automata is much more affront with humanity as a quasi-concept, its theme is deeply rooted in Nier Replicant’s being the form of humankind as we know it. Reality or Fantasy it seems humans are always trying to escape their own suffering only to curse the future to bear the consequences.

What we are left with is a question. Is Humanity destined to seek the future only to lay waste to it through our arrogance? Nier Automata confronts that deep scar and offers a revolution to Human existence. If you’d like to join me for that keep in tune for updates at Dread XP.