If you find yourself in dire need to play a PlatinumGames uh, game on your Nintendo Switch without all the baggage of Bayonetta 3’s messy voice-acting controversy muddling your enjoyment of a rollicking kick-ass character action game with a powerful and fashionable leading lady, you can rest assured in knowing that Nier: Automata still holds up as a top-tier character action game on the Switch.
For those who are late to the party, Nier: Automata is a third-person action-RPG and a loose continuation to both director Yoko Taro’s Drakengard series and Nier Gestalt / Nier Replicant. It came out exclusively on PlayStation 4 in 2017 before hitting PC and other consoles later, and now Nintendo Switch as of October 6. Dubbed The End of Yorha Edition, this Switch version includes previously released add-ons such as the “3C3C1D119440927" DLC as well as new console-exclusive costumes.
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You start off playing as the android 2B, sent to an Earth in the far-off future where machines dominate the planet. But her mission isn’t as it initially appears, leading 2B and her male companion 9S to uncover the truth behind why the world has fallen into disrepair. Since its launch, it won a cavalcade of awards and sold over 6.5 million units worldwide. Its native Nintendo Switch port proves that regardless of the hardware, Nier: Automata is still one of the best character action games of all time, though it now inherits the problem that accompanies many Switch ports: It hurts to play for too long.
Outside of gimmicky new Switch additions like tilting your handheld to dodge during flight mode, the game performs perfectly fine and makes for a must-have game to download on your portable console. This is especially nice if you want to re-experience existential dread about the meaning of life while listening to its banger “real sad girl shit” original soundtrack while sitting on the train or what have you. Perfectly timing consecutive dodges as 2B still results in beautiful after-images of the shapely android, and the game’s elusively dense combat system still sings just as exquisitely as it did on more powerful hardware, albeit at 30fps instead of 60.
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The only thing preventing End of Yorha Edition from passing with flying colors is that your play sessions might be shorter-lived not because you’re trying to parse the game’s prose, but because your hands keep falling asleep from holding the Switch for so long.
If you have long-ass skeleton fingers like myself or best boy Emil, there’s a high probability your hands are gonna cramp after pulling off air-juggle combos and near-miss dodges for minutes to hours at a time. The Nintendo Switch’s tablet has the same dimensions as my Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, a giant-ass phone with its own bed of trade-offs for the sake of having a larger screen. However, my hands don’t run the risk of curling up like lace on 2B’s skirt after doomscrolling through Twitter or watching YouTube video essays about Garfield as often or as painfully as they do while crowd-controlling enemy bots, dodging waves of purple death balls, and articulating my pod’s primary fire at the same time.
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Prior to playing EoYE on the Switch, I dipped my toes back into the Taroverse by getting back into Nier Replicant on the Steam Deck. I immediately felt the difference between my hands’ overall comfort playing on Valve’s portable PC in comparison to Nintendo’s hardware. If you’ve had the fortune of procuring a Steam Deck, you already know it not only feels like a hefty piece of hardware but that it’s also a cozy fit for big-handed lads thanks to its grooved sides. While Nier: Automata exists on Steam Deck through its iffy PC port, I personally prefer playing on the Switch because it’s less cumbersome to lug around on the go. Plus, I feel like less of a target for vandals when dithering away on my Switch than when holding a Steam Deck out in public. I’m not trying to put myself in a situation because I wanted to “Become as Gods” on the city streets.
Unless you’re playing EoYE docked or with a pro controller, you might run into the same issue I did playing the game with my big old gamer appendages. While there’s nothing wrong with playing EoYE docked or with a gamepad, it’s hard not to feel like doing so defeats the entire purpose of it being on the Switch in the first place. When I choose to download games on my Switch, I do so out a desire to play a game conveniently on the go. Feeling encumbered by lugging around a pro controller for my own comfort or being better off playing the game while docked calls into question why I would download it on the Switch to begin with.
That said, if End of Yorha Edition’s extra costumes are a must for you and you can put up with taking baby breaks to allow your hand muscles to unclench, then the Switch version of Nier: Automata performs perfectly fine and makes for a must-have game to download on your portable console.