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    huh's Nier Automata (PS4)

    [August 30, 2018 11:54:36 PM]
    August 30

    2B and 9S are sent into the desert to root out and destroy a population of machines. The quest seems simple enough: enter a zone, kill everything as it jumps out and attacks, and repeat. Only when you reach the last little zone, one lone machine turns around and flees. Up until this point, the player has learned that all the machine enemies are fairly generic and single-minded. They will idly wander about until the player wanders too close. Then they charge and attack until either you or they are dead. Occasionally some machines appear to malfunction and only attack if they are attacked first. But they never flee, until now.

    That moment, when the lone machine turns and runs, is so striking because it goes against the mechanics that the player has come to expect from this game as well as from stylistically similar games. The gameplay typically revolves around fighting a horde of enemies and demands the player learn to combo, dodge, and parry effectively to survive. Part of what makes the game so exciting is assessing the oncoming enemies and weighing the potential to land an attack without opening yourself up to attacks from other angles. So when the machine simply turns and runs, it feels like a violation of the basic mechanics of play.

    Other small details begin to suggest a shift in the game's direction. The machines are found wearing clothes. Some begin to speak simple phrases. They seem to demonstrate a sort of rudimentary intelligence now, whereas before they were only the most generic enemy forces. It all culminates in a final arena buried deep in the ruins of ancient buildings. There, a couple dozen machines sit about performing actions that are distinctly human (though not effectual): rocking a crib, imitating sex, etc. At this point, 9S argues that they still are only machines and are only imitating humanity, but I couldn't bring myself to attack them.

    How does one define life? A machine can perform any action it has been programmed to carry out without being "alive". Perhaps their programming (or else some small glitch in their software) led them to pick up the odd human trait and replicate it. But still I doubt most players would consider that to be living. Even if they had picked up and replicated every little aspect of being a living human, could we ever truly call that life? The question shows up again and again in scifi works like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Blade Runner, and Ex Machina, but this game presented it in a slightly different context. Those machines, along with about a hundred more that began crawling from the surrounding ruins, linked together to apparently transfer all their combined learnings into one being which then dropped down with birth-like imagery.

    This new creature (which I believe will come to be named Adam in the game) possessed the same white hair and human physique as 2B and 9S. I had unconsciously already decided that the two YoRHa androids were alive, by my standards. But the game forced me to directly challenge this conception by literally breaking down the elements that went into the creation of Adam and forcing me to question whether or not that was enough to be "alive". And I can't quite say for certain what I believe.
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    [August 30, 2018 04:06:48 AM]
    August 29

    I knew I'd been too critical in my first log on Nier Automata, but I have immediately realized that I misunderstood everything about the game. From that moment 2B first flies over the ruined Earth, I have been finding detail after detail to love about this game. The game is clever about introducing its menus to the player through the main android's conversation with 9S, and I'm already itching to see what will happen now that I've flipped her self-destruct setting off. I think that it is genius to include UI upgrades as in-game purchases. I still maintain that the style of the characters and the game world are definitely flashy for my taste, and yet I am beginning to feel just how well they all fit nicely with the game's plot and themes.

    From the standpoint of ethics, the game has already given me plenty to think about. Random NPC androids bring up very human-sounding concerns and predicaments while simultaneously discussing their own artificiality. One "man" in particular brought up an interesting quandary as he considers replacing his outdated left leg, the only part of his body remaining from his original model. And then to top it all off, the game presents the subtle topic of a self-destruct switch hidden in the menu, forcing the player to consider that choice blindly and bringing to mind questions of suicide, death for the greater good, cloning, and life purpose.

    The game is already up to that 5/5 stars, and I'm excited to explore the supposed 26 endings that I overheard a classmate mention.
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    [August 29, 2018 12:36:31 AM]
    (For my first experience with Nier Automata - August 25)

    My initial reaction to Nier Automata was nothing special. The game had some interesting mechanics between it's initial aerial battles and the ground fights that blend ranged and melee combat. In particular, I came to appreciate the game's style of flipping perspectives or forcing the player to carefully control their viewpoint in order to play effectively (although this did make me more nauseous than most games would).

    The plot of the game did not impress me as much initially. You begin the game as "2B", an android sent to deal with some malevolent mechanical entity. She, along with an accompanying "9S" unit, demonstrate very flashy style: elegant and voluminous dresses, suits, and stockings, complete with shock white hair and a black blindfold. Your weapons are two swords controlled (presumably) by the character's telekinetic abilities. Additionally, there is some small drone-like character who helps in combat. These quirks give the game its style, but they are presented in a vacuum with no clear background or reasoning provided. The interactions between characters feel somewhat weightless when your entire fleet is gunned down in the opening scene, and I have yet to find anything distinctive in the personalities of these two characters.

    Despite all my initial misgivings about the showy design and undefined characters, I'm actually very excited to continue to play this game and fill in all the gaps and shortcomings of my first look. And I'm optimistic because this introduction concludes with a gripping premise: both 9S and 2B perish to destroy the threatening machinery, but shortly after they are both rebooted on their space station in all-new bodies. 2B retains the memories of their sacrifice while 2B was unable to upload anything after their first meeting. Immediately the game has showed the potential to dive deep into ethical dilemmas of artificial intelligence, cloning, defining humanity or self, and other issues that may arise in such a game world. And so I will begin with a rating of 4/5 stars, but I already anticipate that my impressions will rapidly improve.
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    huh's Nier Automata (PS4)

    Current Status: Playing

    GameLog started on: Saturday 25 August, 2018

    huh's opinion and rating for this game

    No comment, yet.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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