Nier Impressions (Or Lack Thereof)

Square Enix's Yosuke Saito is overseeing development of new action title Nier. So yesterday, we caught up with him, to have a chat and take a first look at the game.

Nier is being developed by Cavia, the Japanese studio behind Drakengard and Umbrella Chronicles, but unlike most of Square Enix's other titles coming out of Japan, Nier is being targeted at a worldwide audience. Saito says Square USA & Europe were involved in the design process, helping come up with a character and and a setting that will hopefully be as popular in Japan as it is in the West.

Which, from what we saw yesterday, may be a bit of a stretch.

Although the game is still early in development, and we weren't allowed any hands-on time with the title, what we did see was hardly encouraging. Despite the worldwide design process, Nier looks like a cliched Japanese brawler, only with the added tedium of RPG-style exploratory sequences bookending the combat areas (Saito says the game will be 70% action, 30% RPG exploration).

I mean, there was just nothing to the game. There was talking, running around an empty field, some awkward slashing, wash, rinse, repeat. Combat looked stilted, dialogue of a standard you'd expect from a Square Enix game translated into English. The small group of people who will slavishly buy every average Japanese action game just because it's a Japanese action game may find something I'm missing, but the 10-minute demo did absolutely nothing to mark this game as something worth remembering, even if you do like hitting things with a giant sword.

As a disclaimer, this was early code, and who knows, maybe Cavia will pull out something truly extraordinary at a later date. But first impressions are important, and this game didn't leave a very good one.