Nier:Automata and how it broke me

Claudia Castelo Sagnotti
Discord: jkccs

Disclaimer: spoiler for Nier:Automata

Nier:Automata, one of the games that brought popularity to the Nier Saga and spin-off of Drakengard, is a multi-platform video game about the war between two factions: Androids, created by humans to recover control over Earth and machines, created by aliens and actual residents of Earth. Nier:Automata sounds like a simple war JRPG video game in which you need to defeat the other side, but there is a lot more to it than that. Both in the side-quests and main story there are philosophical- and existential questions that both androids and machines are asking themselves and the player.

In this game you play as two androids: 2B (YoRHa Model No.2 Type B for “Battler”) and 9S (YoRHa Model No.9 Type S for “Scanner”) whose mission is to defeat different machines and to recover Earth for humanity. The concept is simple: you are an android and your mission is to defeat the machines to win the war.

But not everything is as simple as that, you start by playing as 2B. 2B is a Battler type so the combat focuses on melee attacks, along with a little helper called Pod 142 that acts as a machine gun and provides ranged support. You think that you are an android and that your mission is to eradicate the machines on the earth, and that is indeed what the main missions are about, but in fact Nier:Automata makes you, as a human player, question yourself about following that order. During the game 2B and 9S find different kinds of machines that are sentient and have a perception of themselves and their being, that have feelings. These machines ask you questions about human feelings and life, they are evolving, they are learning that they have feelings and are learning to understand those feelings.
The machines are the enemy, this is the statement that the androids repeat over and over again, yet they seem to be more human than the androids. They seem to have feelings and to act according to them, even though the androids say they are just imitating humans. The androids on the other hand have the motto: “Emotions are prohibited”, separating them from their human creators. Humans are gods to them and they are untouchable by their creations, they should relate to their creators. There are other types of androids that allow emotions and those have very existential questions about the “self” and the meaning of self-consciousness. These androids were part of“The Resistance” and have been fighting on Earth for hundreds of years, making them sour with human kind and questioning themselves about why they fight and the meaning of life.
That said, I must admit that once I played through a great part of the game I could not consider the machines the absolute enemy anymore, but still I continued using 2B and 9S to complete the missions and destroy the machines to have resources. Moreover over the course of the game controlling 2B and 9S even though 2B emphasize the “Emotions are prohibited” phrase it was clear through the whole game that they had very strong feelings and that the motto of not showing them hurt them and their relationship even if they don’t show it.
In this video game almost all the characters are very ”human”. Androids and machines both have feelings, desires, and a craving for freedom and they need to fight each other to accomplish this. They had relations between them, androids with androids, machines with machines and in some manner androids with machines, those characters had bonds and they cherished those bonds and the feeling of attachment between them. The relations and bonds created between characters were beautiful, with a very rich and philosophical dialogue and a beautiful and emotional soundtrack, they presented the relations between 2B and 9S, the relations between machines, between androids… and how the loss of one or more of the beloved ones leaded them into very dark path, how their psyche degenerated and how they dealt with loss in different ways.
There are different endings in Nier:Automata, all of them about death, rebirth, reflection, relationships and life. They all have situations that evoke very strong feelings, such as hope and anger… I managed to experience every ending and even if some of them didn’t make me cry, I can assure you that the feelings I had when achieving them were very strong.

Nier:Automata is a game about life and death, creation and destruction, beginning and ending, love and loss… Through its music, scenery, story and different characters, this game presents a heartbreaking story. Nier:Automata’s endings and side-stories broke my heart more than once and I recommend playing it.