You don’t save the world at the end of Nier. The main character is trying to, certainly – or, more accurately, he’s trying to save his daughter and saving the world is a fortunate byproduct. But by the end of the game and the subsequent replays, it’s clear that you aren’t saving the world. You aren’t saving your daughter. You aren’t even saving yourself. All you’ve succeeded in doing is…
Well, that’s something best hidden behind the cut. Because there are going to be spoilers here, so fairly warned be ye. Even though the odds are you won’t get to play this game.
Nier is the last game developed by Cavia, better known to people who would bother knowing about it as the same studio behind Drakengard and Drakengard 2. As you could also probably guess from that pedigree, it is completely messed up and manages to put forth a post-apocalyptic world that’s actually worse than the world in the throes of the apocalypse. It’s arguably not even post-anything; what you witness through the game is the death throes of the world of humanity, the last shuddering gasps before extinction and failure.
My copy of Secret of Mana is long since dead, and this makes me very unhappy, because it means I don’t have a copy of the game right now. I know, I could buy it on the Wii’s virtual console (although I’d prefer it on the 3DS – Nintendo’s strict limitations on where you can buy older games is kind of absurd), but at the moment I can’t always justify the cost. But that’s not the point. I miss the game and I would play through it again right now, despite having dozens of newer games to play that I’ve never even beaten once.
Is this partly because of the ways that players gravitate toward the familiar over the novel? Naturally. But there’s something more to it. Some games just feel welcoming, even if you’ve played them countless times before, even if the game’s plot is anything but warm and welcoming. There are games that just feel like a big warm hug, welcoming you back no matter how long you’ve been away.
You’d think that this series would involve more submarines. Exploring the underwater world seems like a natural extension, yet only here and in Final Fantasy VII do you get to slip beneath the waves reliably. Otherwise, the water is an effective barrier to everything you want to do. Ah, well.
You’d also think that having access to a submarine wouldn’t really open up more exploration options, since you can sort of fly right now. Au contraire, dear readers. Unlike most games in the series, airships in Final Fantasy III can’t pass through the majority of mountain ranges, which means that you can’t simply soar everywhere. There are places that are completely inaccessible unless you have a ship that can fly past some low-lying foothills… or a ship that can go under those same mountain ranges. Hmm. I wonder what sort of ship might be able to do that? Oh, right, a submersible airship able to explore strange new lands. Away we go!