NieR: Automata

Are There Lesbians? Yes

What Happens: Androids are built by YoRHa to fight the machines and take back Earth for humans. In this JRPG you play as androids 2B, 9S and A2 as they battle for Earth’s future.

The Verdict:
I think it’s safe to say that NieR: Automata is now one of my favourite games. It was certainly the best I played (read, started) in 2017, and I played Life is Strange: Before the Storm and I love that series, so you know it’s serious.

The gameplay in NieR: Automata is really interesting. For the most part it plays like a reasonably standard hack n slash RPG but the gameplay changes depending on who you play as. I also enjoyed being able to combine ranged pod attacks with melee attacks. For this reason I liked playing as 2B and A2 the most. Many of the hacking minigames involved when you play as 9S are required to beat enemies and I was incredibly bad at them. In fact, I would often change my difficulty level to easy (thank goodness you can do that in battle) because I just got so frustrated with constantly dying. That being said, the hacking minigames where there were only static blocks to break were very satisfying. Basically any time I’m being shot at and not on the ground was a stressful time for me. I really like being able to hack and slash and shoot and then cartwheel away.

I did find some of the set controls a bit difficult – a lot of the buttons are close together and I often accidentally changed weapons when I just wanted to heal myself! In long battles, holding the trigger down to shoot while also jamming on the light and heavy attacks did make my wrist hurt. I’m planning to play it again and might try reconfiguring the controls, there are a few forums which recommend it, in fact.

I know this because I loved NieR: Automata so much that when I finished I immediately went and looked through the wiki. It turns out its actually part of a series and now I want to track down the previous game, however I am annoyed because apparently there were two versions and the “real” version was only released in Japan?! It’s so rude. I didn’t know this until I finished the game, however, so I very much enjoyed trying to find out as much backstory as I could through talking to people and discovering certain records scattered throughout the map. Speaking of the map, I really like a nice detailed map and I was disappointed to find that the map actually expands further than where you can explore – why is it there if I can’t go visit? I’m a total completionist so this was very frustrating for me. In the same vein, before/after certain story events you can no longer do some of the quests unless you go back. After you finish the game you can unlock “debug” mode and chapter select which allows you to go back to each chapter, but for reasons which shall remain  untold, I no longer have any of my save files and don’t have this feature any more. I don’t have any real regret to be honest as I am already looking forward to playing through the entire game again! I’m in such a slump having finished it – NieR: Automata is all I want to play, but also I want to have a bit of time away from it to think about it, and also play other things because… I finished the game? And I have so many games to play?

With the gameplay discussion over let’s get to the real stuff – representation. There were a good amount of lesbians in NieR: Automata, although the representation of women in general was a bit… eh (2B pantyshots I’m looking at you… wait, that came out wrong…). This isn’t to say that the women in the game were particularly helpless or that they suffered from the sexy angry stereotype. The majority of characters in the game are women, and I greatly appreciate that. It’s just that a lot of the outfits felt like they came straight from male fetishes. Why does the split in 2B skirt have to go so high and why does she flash us every time she jumps? I’ve played Bayonetta and I can respect a lady who likes to dress sexy, but the appearance of many of the androids like 2B and A2 doesn’t make them look particularly… old, and that bothers me a little. Especially when you just know there’s got to be a lot of porn of them out there.

While NieR: Automata leans towards objectification of its leading ladies, the lesbians were strangely untouched by this trope. They were so good!!! My favourite is the conversation between 2B and her operator 6O where 6O is sad because a girl she liked rejected her, it was so cute! There is also a very moving quest that you can do where you have to go and find out what happened to an androids girlfriend! I strongly suspect that there is more to the A2 and Andromeda relationship that isn’t explicitly stated, but there is enough explicit wlw romance that I don’t mind just keeping that as a headcanon (though I also really want more of that back-story, GIVE ME THE BACKSTORY). As I mentioned, the representation of women has a lot to be desired but I really liked the handling of the wlw relationships, they were romantic without being gratuitous, and didn’t feel like they were being shoe-horned in to increase sales or anything (wow, the bar is so low). Like the rest of the game, the characterisation and storylines of the wlw characters was near perfect.

Despite the GF dubbing it “The Loud Panty Game,” NieR: Automata has earned a very large place in my heart, to the point where my obsession with it may soon rival that of Kingdom Hearts. It is a beautifully made game and ticks all my boxes – gameplay, aesthetics and storyline. If you only play one game from 2017 (sorry LiS: Before the Storm), make sure that it is NieR: Automata.

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