NieR Reincarnation review – Mobile and the antithesis of video games

The critical and commercial success of NieR: Automata has earned Yoko Taro, creator of the license, cult author status. After a difficult start, the posthuman universe of NieR is now a franchise with all the sauces, its characters appear in other games, and there are countless books, artbooks and novels devoted to 2B and consort.

New iteration of the brand, NieR Reincarnation (stylized NieR Re[in]carnation) marks the arrival of NieR on mobile. If our phones today have more than enough capacity to offer real gaming experiences, it is its economy that is worrying. NieR Reincarnation having chosen to be part of the gacha genre, we were afraid that the game would not live up to its franchise…

(NieR Reincarnation Review made via the beta version of the game)


If, with effort, we can establish a timeline of NieR games and relate them to our own universe, in NieR Reincarnation, we are a little out of space and time. The game begins with a little girl waking up in “The Cage”, a gigantic, labyrinthine stone structure. She doesn’t seem to know who she is, where she is, or why.

Fortunately, she can count on Mama, a typical little ghost, who could have escaped from Pac-Man, except that he has two tentacles protruding from under his shroud. The latter will be there to guide the young heroine and give her essential information about La Cage.

Quite quickly, we understand that the mission of this young heroine will be to “restore memories”, or at least to free souls in pain from their regrets. Enigmatic and melancholic, the universe is indeed that of a NieR!

The memories in question represent the heart of the gameplay. These are more or less short stories, told in 2D Michael Ocelot, some (the first ones anyway) linked to each other, and which lead to fights to solve these short scenarios. Well seen, this system of small news is particularly suitable for mobile gaming, and allows short gaming sessions.

Stories of androids who discover feelings for each other, of half-man, half-machine creatures… Things that regulars of the saga expect, and at this level, NieR Reincarnation fits well into the franchise. This is where the problem lies.

Nier Reincarnation Memory 2D

There is no game

Despite appearances, “this is not a pipe” painted Magritte. We could have subtitled this episode of NieR “this is not a game”. If, as we have seen, the scenario remains faithful to the saga, gameplay side, unfortunately, we are far from the mastery of Automata.

Nier Reincarnation exploring The Cage

An incredibly rich work, NieR: Automata questions the place of the player, the meaning of gameplay and the meaning of gender in video games (gender in the sense of type of game – shmup, beat’em up, RPG, etc. – and not “gender studies “). Yes NieR Reincarnation gives in this exercise, it is with a lot of sarcasm.

In effect, the gameplay is simply absent. There is nothing to do. At all. The Cage is explored in a straight line, corridor style, and as the player has no influence on the course of the game, there is an “auto” button which allows the character to move on his own.

The player then becomes a spectator, denying the interactive function of the video game. Should we read a review of hallway games? We would like to, but we don’t really believe in it, even if after all, NieR can also be read [nje], like the verb meaning “to affirm that something does not exist”. In this case, the game as an activity.

The fights, too, take place autonomously. Only the player can decide when to send the special moves, which have a charge time. Basically, before starting a story, which will end in a fight, we have a state of the forces present, and we know, in advance, how it will be resolved. This is where gacha mechanics come in.


“Shut up and take my money” (no)

“Gacha”, simple past of the verb to spoil; compromise something by misuse. And indeed, these so-called “gacha games” mechanics generally damage mobile gaming, by doing everything so that the player repeatedly goes to the cash register. Denying Reincarnation no exception to this sad rule.

The game works with a deck of characters and their equipment. The sum of all the characteristics gives us an idea of ​​the power of our group, which we can compare with the power expected to solve the story in front of us. And after two or three hours of play, we already have only half of the necessary strength.

Nier Reincarnation The Cage wide shot

The solution to advance will then be to buy new weapons, perhaps to see a new character powerful enough to respond to an invocation (paid!) or spend points to advance our heroes (points that we will again have to pay once the meager stock won in play is exhausted…). Admittedly, for the bravest (and/or the most stingy), the game also offers modes that allow you to farm elements to slowly progress the deck, but for free. You still have to have the courage to spend time there despite the lack of gameplay, and therefore of fun…

This is clearly shameless pay to win. And again, “to win”… To win, you still have to at least play… Here, we are perhaps closer to “pay per view” (to stay in anglicisms) as we feel like a simple spectator. In a pinch, and ironically, perhaps it is better to wait for a user of Twitch or another platform of the genre to stream the game to find out. Stop being a spectator…

NieR Reincarnation is a big disappointment, at the height of the love we have for the license. It’s all the more infuriating that the sets are magnificent, the scenarios are in place and successful, and the music, always with Keichi Okabe to the composition, is perfect. We see that the means have been put in to have a beautiful product.

Alas, it is the genre in which it fits, the gacha, which completely mutilates the experience, annihilating any form of gameplay to ensure that the player will pass well at the checkout. It will be, as far as we are concerned, the opposite that will happen: the pure and simple uninstallation of the game, from which we will keep nothing more than a bitter taste in our mouths.

We wish to thank the writer of this post for this outstanding material

NieR Reincarnation review – Mobile and the antithesis of video games

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