NieR: Automata The End of YoRHa Edition Review
Initially released back in 2017, NieR: Automata took the gaming scene by storm. This sequel was praised by many, pointing to its inventive mix of gameplay mechanics, masterful soundtrack, and intriguing storytelling that required multiple playthroughs to fully appreciate.
After receiving PC and Xbox ports over the years, the game finally comes to the Nintendo Switch in 2022. Announced during a Nintendo Direct Partner Showcase back in June, many rejoiced at the prospect of playing the complete version of the acclaimed title on the go. Much more asked a question: Can the Switch actually run the game?
Owing to a miraculous port from the team at Virtuos, who has worked on Switch ports of titles like Dying Light and Bioshock: The Collection, NieR: Automata The End of YoRHa Edition is a dream come true for Switch owners and is worthy of a spot in your ever-growing library.
A Yoko Taro Special
Touching briefly on what the game actually is, Nier: Automata is an action RPG that offers a blend of interesting gameplay elements that continuously surprises, switching from a hack-and-slash to a top-down shooter and more throughout your playthrough. Bosses are huge machinations that combine multiple mechanics with bullet-hell sequences, resulting in a fast-paced adrenaline-induced experience.
Part of the surprise is seeing it on your own, so we won’t fully dive into it, but you can expect engaging gameplay coupled with exploration and puzzles that greatly complement its story.
NieR: Automata also features RPG elements such as leveling up your equipment and abilities, trying out various weapons, and even going as far as giving players the option to create builds that cater to their playstyle. Players will also explore the vast and beautiful world, soaking in the sights and completing side-quests along the way that don’t feel like a chore to do.
Speaking of the story, it is equally as engrossing and tackles a lot of relevant topics and issues that make it more than just a battle between warring factions. Depending on who you ask, some would even call it one of the greatest ever told by Yoko Taro. Players will follow the adventure of 2B and 9S who are part of the YoRHa android forces that figure in a proxy war against invading machines.
A unique aspect of Nier: Automata is its tale that is spread over multiple playthroughs, with each successive run opening up the story even further, rewarding players with more details and discoveries that make it a joy to play again and again, offering over 50 hours of gameplay to fully uncover.
For a game that also suffered from performance issues in its previous ports, one can only feel discouraged about a Switch port. They certainly could have chosen the easy way out and just put out a cloud version, but the team at Virtuos took on the challenge, producing extraordinary results that are just short of a miracle.
Based on the gameplay, it seemed that Virtuos had one thing in mind – to keep the frame rate as close to 30 as possible while pulling back on visual settings. Much to my surprise, the game doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would. In fact, unless you look close enough or you’re as good as the geniuses at Digital Foundry are, the differences are passable.
Textures and character models in NieR: Automata are a bit washed and certainly lacking in detail. Does it look bad? Not quite, and while noticeable when put side by side, there’s almost no issue seeing it on its own. Virtuos has made compromises in places where you would expect – textures, draw distance, lighting, shadows, density, etc. You can think of it as playing a PC game on low or mid settings.
One important aspect where NieR: Automata shines on the Switch is in keeping the action locked to 30 FPS. Again, this is coming from me judging it with my own eyes, but the game feels solid in this aspect, with some dips here and there during some of the bigger boss fights. For the most part, the performance is steady, and it really makes you forgive the uncommon dips brought about by the underpowered hardware.
If I had to choose whether to play NieR: Automata docked or undocked, my answer would be undocked without any hesitation. Seeing the game on a larger screen just magnifies the lower-quality visuals, and if you were playing on a larger screen anyways, firing up the PC or PS4/Xbox ports of the game would be a better deal to get higher frames.
When it all comes down to it, isn’t the point of NieR: Automata on the Switch a way to play it anywhere and everywhere, like during a toilet run?
What We Liked:
- Miraculous and well-performing port
- Decent price point with complete content
- Masterful soundtrack
- Almost constant 30 FPS
What We Didn’t Like:
- Pared down visuals
- Docked mode magnifies its shortcomings
Verdict: Buy it!
NieR: Automata The End of YoRHa Edition is a masterful port by the team at Virtuos, bringing all the good things about the game to underpowered hardware and making compromises that make sense. Taking 2B on the go is no longer a dream, and the game handles beautifully on the Switch.
Despite the lower quality visuals compared to earlier versions, the game manages to keep it steady where it matters, offering an almost steady 30 FPS gameplay that matters more with these types of games.
All things considered, and with a pocket-friendly price tag, NieR: Automata The End of YoRHa Edition is a great addition to the library of all Switch owners, offering a unique game with an intriguing narrative that is begging for multiple playthroughs and easily worth the price tag.
*NieR: Automata The End of YoRHa Edition was reviewed on a Nintendo Switch with a review code provided by the publisher