NieR:Replicant ver.122 reviews went live today, all of which have been quite favorable. The game currently sits at an 84 on Metacritic. And while this is undeniably great news, it may come as a bit of a surprise to anyone who’s familiar with the game and its relationship with the gaming community.
When NieR:Gestalt (stylized NIER) released in 2010, it was met with middling to low review scores. As of now, the game sits at a 68 metascore. It was derided so much so that you’ve probably seen it referred to as the bad game with good music if you’ve been around long enough. So how could critical reception have changed so drastically between NIER and its remake counterpart? Especially when, outside of its combat and visuals, so little has actually changed in the remake?
The answer is a simple, but complex one: Timing.
It’s not that the game needed to change much, it was that the people needed to change. Contemporary gaming sensibilities are always shifting as trends develop, as people become jaded with those trends, etc.
NIER was just unlucky in that it released during a time where JRPG fatigue was at an all-time high, and gamers were far less open to experimental games. So, for all the good the game did, for all its attempts at pandering to a western market, the dissenting opinions were still enough to dissuade most people from looking in its direction. NieR:Replicant ver.122 exists outside of that and isn’t tripped up by those same pitfalls, so more people are willing to appreciate it for what it is.
The sad thing about all this; however, is that NIER isn’t the only game of its time that was unfairly decimated both critically and commercially. It’s one of many stories from bygone eras just like it. But unlike NIER, many of these games never got a second chance. Many of them will probably never get a new audience to look at them and find the value in what they did.
It is not my intent with this writing to convince you that all divisive videogames are secret masterpieces that deserve endless praise. I’m just tired of games being dog-piled only for people to realize after the fact that maybe those games weren’t so bad after all. Do your future self a favor, so you don’t end up on the side of the fence with the rest of the people who didn’t appreciate a game they would later end up loving.
With all the videogame underdog success stories we’ve seen lately like with the No More Heroes franchise, FFXII getting a second wind with its remaster, and even SaGa Frontier coming back strong…. It’s time that people take another look at those polarizing games from back in the day and ask yourself if you actually gave them a chance.