Nier: Automata devs talk about what the game really means, forcing Square Enix to let them create it
Nier: Automata first launched more than 5 years ago and as of October 2022, it has finally made its way to the Nintendo Switch. To mark the event, GameSpot had the opportunity to ask key members of the development team – writer and director Yoko Taro, producer Yosuke Saito and composer Keiiche Okabe – about Nier’s creation: Automata and the lasting impact of the game.
I’m making no secret that I’m a huge fan of Nier: Automata and it continues to hold a special place in my heart as not only my all-time favorite video game, but also my favorite game. play justifies its existence as a game game than any other form of communication. The interactivity and abrupt genre shift in Nier: Automata (and its predecessor) are its hallmarks. I’m not sure what it means when I’ve also read the novel and eagerly looked forward to the anime adaptation, but you can judge it as an almost sane obsession.
Below you’ll find the full Q&A that I had with Taro, Saito, and Okabe. Their responses were translated from Japanese to English by a Square Enix representative.
Nier: Automata is available on PS4, PC, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. A retooled and remastered version of its predecessor, Nier Replicant, was released for PS4, Xbox One, and PC in 2021.
GameSpot: One thing I’ve seen some people say after playing Nier: Automata is that they feel “bored”. However, I feel the exact opposite, and actually wrote a piece about how its optimism can feel like overcoming depression despite feeling hopeless. Is this intentional? Your work, especially with character arcs, is often dark and creepy, but rarely without reason.
Even now, I still get DMs from time to time saying “my depression is cured”, but this is completely unintentional. “Then, why am I getting such direct messages?” I wonder, and I think it’s because NieR is a game like a mirror that reflects the player.
Nier doesn’t describe “justice as the creator’s intention,” but instead is structured to pose questions to the player. Light and darkness, life and death – these dual properties may have acted as a catalyst to push the boundaries of freedom of thought.
I’ve tried my best to incorporate smart-sounding words here. Do you think I’ve succeeded in presenting myself as a smart creator?
Did you know from the start that you wanted this to be a Nier game? It functions largely as a standalone game, although takes place after the original Nier and shares a few characters.
The games that I create are often an extension of the real world. So from that perspective, it’s natural that history can be shared.
At the same time, I need to make it possible for players starting in the latter, who haven’t played the previous titles, to still be able to understand the story. This doesn’t necessarily mean adding a brief synopsis of the previous title in the beginning, but instead leads to designing something more natural for players to experience a completely different story.
The original Nier wasn’t exactly a bestseller. Though, five after the game was released, Square Enix teased a big sequel. How was that conversation? Has the company been in business since the beginning?
I threatened to leave the company if I couldn’t develop Nier: Automata and do internal approval that way. They thought it would only sell 300,000 units globally…
PlatinumGames has played a big part in Automata’s success. How important was that partnership, and what role did the style-heavy battles play in the series that followed?
I wanted to find the best developers to create an action RPG, and so I turned to PlatinumGames for help. Among them, Takahisa Taura’s team is exceptional, and so I believe our collaboration with them is quite important for the future of our series.
There is a certain quality to your work that makes it instantly recognizable. For example, I realized I was listening to your work when I first watched the Whose Voice trailer. What do you think is your most “characteristic” element? Background vocals?
Maybe it’s easy to recognize vocal songs because the voices that I love and choose each have their own characteristics.
Melodies, chord progressions, layering of sounds in accompaniments, etc., may not necessarily stand out individually, but I think the way these subtle features are layered or combined make it easy for the audience to recognize.
How was the process of creating Weight of the World “End of Yorha” version? Was this a decision to team up with Yoko Taro to include the loud vocals as you move further into the credits?
Basically, Yoko Taro’s request comes first and with that, I feel it’s my role to shape the image of specific sounds coming out, making suggestions like “you How about doing it this way?”
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