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The Power of Video Game Storytelling In NieR: Automata

When it comes to video games, many people view the graphics and gameplay as the main source of entertainment for the gaming industry. To some extent this may be true, but have you ever considered what goes into a game’s story? Have you ever wondered how the characters, world and storyline shape the entire experience of playing a game overall? I find that the story is often underappreciated in games and as a writer, I would like to shed some light onto one game that changed everything when I found out about it. This game was titled NieR: Automata.

NieR: Automata is a game title which was released in 2017 by Square Enix for the PlayStation 4, and is a spin-off of Yoko Taro’s series Drakenguard. NieR: Automata is the second installment in the NieR series for U.S. audiences. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity is extinct and only machines are left. The main android characters 2B and 9S fight in the 14th Machine War against the resistance of the machine life forms attacking their organization YoRHa. Oftentimes, machines and robots are portrayed to have no emotion whatsoever in pop culture. However, this game breaks that stereotype and portrays machines as ones who experience deep emotions that end up being an endless cycle. The female android 2B has to live in an endless cycle of trauma and pain due to her allegiance to YoRHa. In addition, the male android 9S also experiences intense emotions and ends up taking a liking to 2B as his battle comrade. These two characters are ones that both compliment and complicate one another in several ways. One is a cold and emotionless battle android while the other is a kindhearted scanner android who assists with locating enemies. It fascinated me how these characters were fully fleshed out into almost realistic people you could learn to know through their journey within the game.

One thing that truly stood out to me though were the different worlds that the game took place in. It enhances the gameplay and immerses you deeper into the story with every mission. Some of my favorite worlds truly are marvelous wonders to view. City Ruins is a place where humanity once inhabited and has been left to decay. It has a peaceful and intriguing vibe when you are exploring this area. Amusement Park is an abandoned park which has a haunting, yet beautiful aura when seeing the scenery that surrounds you while playing. Even the music adds an amazing experience with every scene you watch in each world. As you go further into the game you begin to see how everything slowly builds on from past experiences from the characters.

Ferris Wheel at Irvine Spectrum Original photo by Lauren Seberos This game made me question life itself. The story really impacted me to the point where I have thought about many of the themes even to this day such as humanity, death, truth, identity and the questioning of an endless cycle. Its theme of humanity serves as a purpose to place humanity as a source - for the androids of YoRHa to have allegiance to. Their salute: “For The Glory of Mankind” follows this notion that the androids are soldiers dedicating their lives for a worthy cause. Death in any war is inevitable and those who form bonds among their squad are often ones who are left with emotional scars later on to mend. As humans, we often question what the truth is and what’s the right thing to do. We may be curious as to what the actual reason is behind an action rather than mindlessly perform it. Some of the characters in NieR: Automata struggle to grapple with the truth behind the particular missions they have to finish. The struggles of finding out who you really are as a person and finding your true path is something that many people can relate to. Furthermore, this is something you may have not thought about. In a way, we are all in a never ending cycle of unknowns, doubts and unexpected occurrences during various times in our lives. Some of us may really wonder if these occurrences are simply a part of life. Why do we have to struggle, experience loss, seek happiness and go through all the intricate parts of human life.

Butterfly on Bench Original photo by Lauren Seberos Overall, NieR: Automata is a game I believe is an underappreciated masterpiece with such rich storytelling. A game isn’t about the fancy graphics, epic power moves or brand. The story is what brings a game to life and what makes it truly inspiring for people to play. Whether you’re a newbie to games or an ultimate gamer, this game title is definitely worth checking out if you’re wanting a wild ride of fantastic storytelling.