Welcome to our Gameluster Top 10 of 2021! After our deliberations on the Game Busters Podcast, we’ve settled on an unranked list of the top 10 best games of the year. Each of these will be a short write-up on why our team is so passionate about these games, so stay tuned!
NieR Replicant ver. 1.22
Since I picked it up (and couldn’t put it down) in 2017, NieR: Automata has remained one of my favorite games of all time. It’s one of those that has stuck with me in a way that I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of, nor do I think I will I ever quite understand the depth of its impact on who I am and what I value. I had always thought about going back to NieR (or NieR Replicant, or NieR Gestalt, or whatever) to see where it all began, but every consensus I saw was that it was too clunky and unpolished to be worth revisiting.
Over time, I think that has proved to be true; so when Yoko Taro, the game’s director, announced the remaster, I nearly wept with excitement. NieR Replicant Ver. 1.22 drifted closer and closer to the top of my hype list as we approached the release. You know that all too familiar feeling when you hype up a game beyond anything it could ever conceivably achieve and then are inevitably disappointed? That did not happen. NieR Replicant exceeded my expectations, drove me to madness, pulled me back from the brink, and left me a changed man.
NieR Replicant Ver. 1.22 is probably not going to win a lot of Game of the Year awards, and that’s okay. It is tedious at times, and doesn’t respect the player’s time ocassionally, and moves the plot along very slowly. This is a story about finding what it means to be human. Our inexplicable ability to let down the walls around our hearts with the knowledge that we will be hurt someday — this is what it means to love, and that is what it means to be human. The magic of it is in finding you’ve fallen in love with these characters, watching them fight for what they love, and having your own heart ripped apart and stitched back together alongside them.
Replicant overall has a few more flaws than Automata, but I still feel good calling it a bona fide masterpiece - and strangely I enjoyed it more. In fact, after finishing this game, I was so emotionally affected that I did not play another video game for nearly seven weeks. Every time I picked up a controller I thought of Kaine, Emil, Weiss… and I genuinely missed them, like real friends I’d never see again. I implore you to give this game a try. I understand it may not be for everyone, but if it is for you… well, I hope you can feel what I felt. Now get to it, hussy.