NieR Automata: the motifs, and the songs, to rediscover a masterpiece

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Time can not scratch a masterpiece: it can perhaps highlight a few wrinkles too much, but it can not undermine its beauty. From the beginning of NieR: Automata two years have passed, and in this period the jewel born from the marriage between Platinum Games and Yoko Taro not only has not lost a shred of its enamel, but has even increased its fame, becoming little by little a cult product. Although far from perfection, Automata is an unforgettable title: a concentrate of narrative genius, a flicker of originality that – net of some technical deficit – knows how to ensnare the player between the links of a long-lasting and innovative adventure , able to cross the border of the genres and mix them together. The advent of the Game of the Yohra Edition on European soil gives us the chance to experience the epic of the enchanting 2B in its most complete form, to scream once again in chorus: " Glory to humanity ".
Next to a superfine gameplay and a magnetic and elegant storyline, moreover, a soundtrack is made between the most intense and engaging of the entire videogame panorama. This is why, in talking about Automata it is impossible to excuse the praises of a marvelous soundtrack, whose notes represent one of the main reasons for which, two years after the official release, the Yoko Taro's work deserves to be (re) discovered without delay. We have therefore decided to offer you five different reasons thanks to which Automata nowadays, retains a completely unaltered charm: each of the motivations is then accompanied by a passage that reflects its essence, and thus helps us to to understand why the music, in NieR has the same importance of the play system. Tighten the pad in your hands, and wear a pair of headphones: you rarely witness audio-visual experiences of such power.

Yoko Taro's signature

Few game directors can boast the same eclecticism as Yoko Taro. Each pixel of Automata smells of its inspiration, its desire to exceed every limit, the desire to leave a fully recognizable brand within the industry. " If you gave me the money, I would do anything " – he usually declare about a possible sequel of his great work. But this sbruffonaggine is part of his mask, that of a character out of the screens: in reality the author, far from superficial, studies his creatures in the smallest detail, refines the aesthetics, builds a network of calls that chase between his various works, and that are rooted in Drakengard and in the first NieR .

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In Automata his visionary attitude is expressed at most , and the search for videogame "beauty" finds its fulfillment. The sublime passage A Beautiful Song is its purest manifestation: this is the painful lament of Simone one of the bosses of the game. A machine that was once an opera singer, obsessed with the sublime, both visual and musical. His parable is that of a being who tends to exceed his limits, who wants to be "noticed" at all costs, both from his audience and from the one he loves. His ambitions are high, his fall ruinous. Even Yoko Taro, in an attempt to upset the public, burned his clay wings with the primeval NieR, a fascinating but highly imperfect incarnation of his lust. Luckily, with Automata, it has reached full equilibrium between genius and folly.

The Platinum Games chip

Yoko Taro certainly could not have performed the miracle without the support of a team like Platinum Games. If Automata has shaken off most of his predecessor's playful ingenuity, the merit lies above all in the minds that gave the world Bayonetta. The gameplay of NieR is a melting pot of disparate suggestions, from hack'n'slash to side-scrolling, through a shoot'em up and even a textual graphic adventure. An all-encompassing and surprisingly homogeneous cauldron, in which every "soul" cohabits and merges with the others, without ever being forced or end in itself. In this pot-pourri of genres, it is a combat system that wisely hybridises technicality and immediacy: fast, precise, virtuous and spectacular like never before.

It does not approach the peaks touched by the witch of Umbra, and sometimes – after the appropriate upgrades – some battles appear quite easy to overcome, more prone to visual chaos than to true complexity, but they are minutiae in front of a system stratified and incredibly varied. Automata in the hands of the Platinum, has turned into an endless swirl of emotions, constantly changing rhythm, alternating phases of quiet exploration to angry and adrenaline sequences, to others even more reflective. Emblem of similar creative vision is Memories of Dust a piece that – between pressing exhilarating sounds – often changes the layers of his score: it is possible to listen in a single solution now a more peaceful, now wilder, trend now more epic and overwhelming. A series of adjectives that, moreover, is well suited to the events of 2B and 9S.

The story: the glory and the tears

There is poetry in the story of Automata . And there is desolation, anger, sadness, desire for revenge. The pen of Yoko Taro has abandoned the excesses that distinguished the previous titles, and has set up a more cohesive, less dispersive story, which – despite its fragmentary nature – manages to be clear, communicative and emotionally devastating. That of Automata is the story of machines looking for a purpose, a reason to fight for, a humanity. Mixing philosophy and high school science fiction, the plot flies high, moving between theological and social disquisitions. Initially it appears cryptic, smoky, evanescent: but then, after putting together the pieces of the puzzle, here appears before the eyes of the player an intimate and intellectual picture, which is difficult, if not impossible, to forget.

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theme of Automata, Weight of the World in its English version, sums up, in a few lines, the feelings of the protagonist: this piece is, in essence, an integral part of the script, supports and completes it. Immersed in the delight of the notes, we listen to the story of a "girl" who has lost hope, who seeks a distant god, who cries for an ephemeral salvation. Her sins accompany her, they wound her, they devour her: only the waiting for the redemption remains, the expectation of a life that can start all over again, and in which her desires can come true, so that she may one day succeed. to save " everyone of us ", every single individual of his species. And for this he screams with strength and despair, even though his words are meaningless now. Who is familiar with the story of Automata knows well that the words of Weight of the World (which is reproduced during the final A) are those of the soul of 2B, a girl who just wants to get rid of the weight of the world.

A shared universe

There is a narrative thread that combines the works of Yoko Taro, all pieces of a saga twisted, enigmatic and extremely suggestive that – as already mentioned – starts from Drakengard to get to Nier . Automata – although it is a story told alone – is part of the same macro-universe, shared by the aforementioned works, and assimilates its mythology. The references to past episodes have a dual purpose: on the one hand they stimulate the nostalgic curiosity of the fans with well-targeted quotes, and on the other allow the cosmogony of Drakengard to evolve and expand, opening the door to future developments .

To avoid sacrilege anticipations to anyone who has not yet plunged into the crazy world of Yoko Taro, we prefer not to reveal further details: suffice it to say that in Automata is contained the revisitation of a magnificent piece, emblematically titled The Song of the Ancients present in the first NieR and sung by the voices of Devola and Popola. This new version, not surprisingly, carries the subtitle " Atonement ", that is " atonement ": to discover the reason you will not have to do anything but play.

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The song of a world destroyed

Simply decant the praises of the soundtrack of NieR: Automata is not enough. It is necessary to feel and internalize it, both with the ears and with the heart. Keiichi Okabe has composed a soundtrack of poignant grandeur, which – like gameplay – ranges between genres and feeds on contamination. It is the melody that speaks, more than the text: the sequences sung, in fact, are often written in an invented language, a mixture of terminologies and sounds extrapolated from other idioms, with the aim of making the perception both familiar and unknown. The result is songs that seem to come from a distant past, mysterious and hypnotic, as if they were the legacy of a lost era, of an arcane civilization. Pieces such as " Birth of a Wish ", " Broken Heart ", " Emil – Despair " and " War & War " ( just to name a few) know few equals in the music scene, both videogame and film.

But in the sublime range of songs, among all stands – in our humble opinion – The Song of a Broken World . We refer to the Japanese version of Weight of the World : the melody is the same, and to change are – clearly – the words, which bring not only a different musicality of the verse, but also a new one meaning. In its Japanese variant, the outburst of 2B is more solitary, sad, merciless. Here the voice does not ask to be able to rescue anyone, but a single person, does not try to redeem himself from every sin, only " to have a little extra time " to spend in his company. Anyone who has completed Automata can imagine who the recipient of such confessions is. The Song of a Broken World (which – symbolically – accompanies the ending B) is therefore the mirror of another 2B: the most human, the most suffering, the most defeated.