Fighting NieR: Automata’s Enemies is Like Punching Kittens

I’m playing NieR: Automata and I’m hating myself for it.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with NieR: Automata as such, even though I’m only a few levels in. But in the short time I’ve spent with the game it has made be feel like an absolute heel; as if I’ve walked into an animal shelter and just started punching small furry creatures. It’s all to do with the enemies the game pitches you against which, despite their number, are utterly inoffensive. It’s not so much that they’re cute; it’s that they’re clearly way below your technological level.

There you are, a sleek, badass android, armed to the teeth and ready to slaughter. And there they are, pudgy little mute mobile dustbins. There you go, striding across the room, spinning, leaping executing all manner of unnecessary acrobatics. And there they go, shuffling forward as if they’re terrified of confronting you. Thirty seconds later, you’re standing amongst their shattered corpses, as sleek as ever, their mechanical lives reduced to mere currency. Should your android protagonist die, on the other hand, their memories will be retrieved and they, or rather you, will live on.

True, Halo had its grunts but the game’s higher level foes were threatening at least. But all the NieR: Automata enemies I’ve thus far encountered, even the colossal boss monsters, are grimy industrial machines. There’s hardly a hint of malice in them as they shuffle forward and yet, again and again, they fall to your sword. Worst still is that you’re the interloper; they’re not actively trying to kill you, it’s you who has entered their territory with the sole intention of slaughtering them. And the best they can do is hurl glowing tennis balls at you or claw at your knees while you carve them in two with your laser sword.

I have some idea where NieR: Automata’s narrative is going and I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that, as I fear, I’ve been slaughtering robots who want to do nothing but exist. The cult-like chant of “Glory to Humanity”, repeated by the game’s android aggressors, leads to believe I’m going to turn out to be the bad guy. But till then, I guess I’ll have to back to murdering R2D2’s extended family and feeling like absolute scum for it.

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