Nier Replicant’s Yoko Taro understands that life is a comedy. At least, that’s what I can surmise, based on the answers he gave to my interview questions. His answers suggest that, no matter how hard one tries to influence the world, that effort often devolves into the absurd. This Camusian sentimentality permeates his work, where he often makes rash narrative justifications just to link disparate threads, rather than just start fresh. He brushes off any deeper meta analysis by fans or critics as strained interpretation. I can only imagine his blasé expression as he answered my questions forwarded to him by Square Enix’s American PR team. 

Why did I trouble myself to interview a man who doesn’t want to be interviewed? It’s because I find his worlds to be some of the most bizarre, avant-garde and philosophically dense in gaming.

Last week (April 23) saw the release of Nier Replicant ver. 1.22474487139… It’s a “version upgrade” — not a remake or remaster — of his 2010 title, which initially debuted to middling reviews and less-than-stellar sales. Our review was decidedly more positive, and the new version of the game currently sits at an 83 on Metacritic. Its sequel, 2017’s Nier: Automata, completely flipped Yoko Taro’s fortunes, becoming a critical darling and a commercial success.

Nier Replicant ver. 1.22474487139… (Image credit: Square Enix)

The Nier series is a mish-mash of genres, with outstanding action gameplay and an enthralling score. Automata’s subversive narrative served as a fascinating critique of the meaning of God, our own existence, and the issues and causes we fight for. Its on-the-nose callbacks to the giants of philosophy may have been heavy-handed, but its world was rich in mystery and lore. It’s one of those games that’s so drenched in ingenuity that it quite literally obfuscates your own understanding.

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