A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nier is one of the bloodiest Japanese RPGs (role-playing games) to come along in some time. Huge gushes of crimson spew from fantastical enemies and wild animals when struck, and humans are shown gravely injured in the game’s cinematic cut scenes. There is also one character that is highly sexualized and wears skimpy outfits that reveal her posterior and excessive cleavage. Note, too, that the game features strong profanity, though the worst of it isn’t noticeably frequent. However, amidst all this potentially offensive content is a story with some surprisingly touching themes; specifically, a father’s tireless love for his daughter.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Set in the distant future, NIER, a surprisingly bloody Japanese role-playing game, tells the tale of a man trying to save his daughter from a terrible disease. He journeys across huge maps and through countless dungeons and battles a variety of mythical creatures on his quest find a cure. Along the way he meets up with some interesting characters, including a talking book and a foul-mouthed, scantily clad half demon/half human, and explores some imaginative locals, such as a village made of platforms suspended in a canyon. Note that, unlike publisher Square Enix’s most popular RPGs -- such as those in the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series -- this is mature game filled with adult themes, strong language, sexuality, and graphic violence.
Is it any good?
Nier has plenty of surface flaws. Despite some impressive vistas, its graphics are surprisingly bland, featuring flat, spartan environments and characters lacking much in the way of distinguishing details. And the battle system starts off as exercise in mashing a single button as players tap it to carry out repetitive attacks.
However, give it a few hours and the moving story, which is filled with quirky personalities, such as a world-weary, wise-cracking book, just might sink its hooks into you. And the fighting eventually becomes more engaging once players begin attaching “words” to their weapons to increase their attributes and learn to master dodge, recovery, and magic abilities. Plus, fishing, plant cultivation, and weapon-forging activities act as nice distractions when you want to take your mind of the main quest. It’s not the best role-playing game of the year by any measure, but there’s a good chance it will hit the spot for adult fans of Eastern-style action RPGs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relationship between the game’s daughter and father. Did it feel real? Do you think the game makers were trying to use it to legitimize the father’s violent actions?
Families can also discuss the game’s excessive violence, something not all that common in Japanese role-playing games. Did it help give the game a more mature vibe? Or was it distracting, given the emotional and sincere narrative?
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