Finally, after SO MANY DAYS I’m done with putting this Youtube video together! I ended up spending about two weeks on this and probably 140 hours total of research, re-research, writing, and then putting it all together >.< I notice my slight accent is a little more audible here too xD.
I hope this in depth analysis can prove to be useful to some people and may it serve as a gateway for people to use to introduce their friends or fellow gamers to the narrative depth of Yoko Taro’s work. The way information and revelations are discovered in his work for those who dig for it is an extremely rewarding and enlightening experience.
I’d like to thank the friends that helped me discuss and analyze NieR Automata to make this video possible. Also a big thank you to you know who for always taking the time to look over my writing as well, because I’m not the best at conveying myself in words >.<. Depending on the feedback for this video there might be a part 2, and possibly a staple series for my Youtube to analyze, not just games, but anything in general that’s worth breaking down ^_^. Don’t forget to like and share it around guys!
The following is the RAW transcript of my analysis video so you can stop reading here and ignore it. I’m only including it here because someone on youtube said they could only understand a portion of what I said. I apologize if it’s like this for anyone else. Here is the transcript, in it’s completely raw form, for anyone who needs help following along with what I have to say in the video.
And while we’re on the topic of endings, let me clear up a misconception some people may have.
You don’t need to play the game FOUR times to get to the true ending.
That’s a misunderstanding based on the original NieR game that actually did require you to play through the second half
three extra times. Route B happens during the events of A but in the perspective of 9S, but there’s more.
Not only can you access more areas and chests, you play through the entire event completely differently AND
about 30% to 40% are completely new content and scenes where the two are separated.
Route C is a continuation from the events of A and B, a totally new campaign of about another 10 to 12 hours of ENTIRELY NEW content AND a third playable character.
D is a choice difference at the very end of C so you only need to play the last stage.
E is simply after the credits after watching D and you play through that bullet hell scenario.
As a proud Yoko Taro fan myself who really appreciates his unique way of storytelling and conveying thought provoking philosophical concepts,
it hurts me to see when the game gets taken too lightly or measured only for what’s being shown as obvious.
Yes, the game has a great combat engine, but that’s more of a credit to Platinum Games.
the game also has a ridiculously amazing soundtrack, but that credit mainly goes to Keiichi Okabe the musical composer and the entire team behind him.
and Yes, the game has 2B and A2’s nicely shaped asses that even have drying physics after you get them wet,
and it’s dominated the headlines which we can all appreciate especially since it gave attention to what was formerly a very niche franchise with a cult following.
and finally yes, the game doesn’t have the best PS4 graphics when you compare it to games like Horizon Zero Dawn,
but what it DOES have is a perfectly executed stream of ideas, deeply layered philosophical concepts and literary references that you can have fun discovering and breaking down until the next game comes out. The more you dissect what’s going on, the more you are rewarded.
Keep in mind some of these are fan inputs and some are speculations, though I’ve done my best to talk it over with my friends to aid with integrity.
If you find any factually inaccurate data please let me know in the comments below. Some of these you may already know but do keep in mind that I’ve
included them since it may not be as obvious to some others.
Let’s get right to it starting with some of the simpler things to analyze in Nier.
If you’ve already finished the main endings then you should know by now about the cycle in which 2B has to kill 9S
over and over whenever his curiosity reaches a point that may be considered harmful to YoRHa.
When 2B repeatedly tells 9S to stop calling her ma’am and to stop being so formal, this is 2B wanting some small taste of whatever closeness
they may have developed in the past before however number of times she’s killed him.
On the other hand, she refuses to call him “Nines”
because she doesn’t want to let out any of her own feelings for him.
In the Forest Kingdom when she messes up and calls him “Nines” then tries
to play it off by dragging it out, that was your cue to realize that the person who gave 9S that nickname among the YoRHa was actually 2B.
At the end of ending A and B, when 2B cries stating, [let the cutscene say it], on my first playthrough on Ending A I failed to catch it at first
and thought, what does it matter? As long as he survives and gets remade you can always give him those memories.
I initially viewed 2B as being too much of a romanticist for this but when you realize the full scope of the narrative you realize she’s referring
to the fact that she’s tired of having to kill him over and over every time they develop anything just because he ends up knowing too much.
Just imagine that for a moment, you’re tasked with continuously killing this person you’ve, probably fallen in love with.
She’s had to hold this pain in countless times.
This is classic Yoko Taro putting his protagonists on a pedestal of superb will power.
2B, or should I say, 2E, follows a line of female protagonists in the Drakengard/NieR universe that carries
a huge weight on their shoulders but deals with it with grace and purpose.
The last two were Kaine and Zero.
Here, when 9S is trying to recover his memories and states, “What if I forget everything? My memories? My self? My…” predicting what he was about
to say there can have multiple possibilities. For me, I like to think he was about to say “soul”, or maybe “feelings”, as in his feelings for 2B.
Either way this portion is meant to further emphasize how important memories are, especially to them. Just like in real life, our memories
are what makes us who we are today. We’re molded by our past experiences and how we perceive each fleeting moment.
A little further into this scene 9S makes an observation that the machines seemed to be copying every possible human behavior and discipline,
and that they don’t try to improve upon future attempts after it fails, but when it comes to combat they show overwhelming adaptive behavior.
This can be interpreted in multiple ways. Either A) this is Yoko Taro’s way of mocking the human condition to destroy ourselves,
either through the fact that we haven’t really solved, at least not with a perfect solution, on how to co-exist in this world,
but our ability to destroy ourselves continues to improve.
Or B) Since machines are meant to take in information and use it in a completely logical manner, the only basic need for survival that has a clear and definite mathematical solution, like improving algorithms, is the ability to destroy. On the other hand, when it comes to abstract concepts like how a sentient life form like humans should exist, there is no definite logical answer. Whether its religion or philosophy, a sentient being with emotions and an ego has no objectively correct or incorrect way of living.
Or perhaps the best answer of all in Yoko Taro’s own words
C) In a recent interview with We Got This Covered at PAX East, Yoko Taro was asked about this and he said,
even if you fail every single time but you still repeat yourself… I don’t think there needs to be a kind of “final answer” to everything we do. Just to give an example, if someone were to climb a mountain, and they were to fail — along the way, they’re still having the experience of climbing that particular mountain, and I think there is some meaning from that experience. In the end, it’s up to the individual to develop their own understanding of whether something has meaning to them or not.
Video games could be considered quite meaningless too, couldn’t they? You don’t get any money like it’s a job, or anything. And because humans die, even life itself could be considered ultimately meaningless. I believe it’s where you place your values that determines where you find meaning. For example, I’d always wanted to be very popular with the ladies, and that’s something I couldn’t build to fruition in my youth. (laughs) Since that didn’t come true, I’m now creating video games [and placing my values there] instead. So… it’s up to the individual to find meaning where others find meaninglessness, if that makes sense.
This is a further nod to the concept of the cycle of struggle that perpetuates throughout NieR Automata.
In fact, this brings me to my next point. This one would only be obvious to fans who know all the events from Drakengard 3,
Drakengard 1, and the original NieR. When you take your perspective of the entire timeline and you zoom out,
and look at the events in Automata for what it really is within that timeline, you can actually simplify and downplay
the whole thing as a really tiny little event. You can even say it’s an insignificant event involving androids with
preprogrammed AI meant to protect humanity, humanity that has already gone extinct, and going about manufacturing
their own convoluted ways in order to give themselves a meaningful purpose, which is what YoRHa is for.
The aliens that tried to invade Earth are already dead,
but it just so happens that the machine lifeforms left behind started to develop awareness, or so it seems,
particularly The Red Twins in the network. Coincidentally, The Red Twins come to the conclusion that in order for them to
continue to evolve they need to be in constant conflict, forever cornered but with neither side winning in a neverending cycle.
That, in turn, gives YoRHA the very thing they need to continue the lie within their own cycle.
So what you have here is basically just a tiny little, you could even say petty, cycle of scuffle between factions of machines
in a PRETEND war.
Yet, Yoko Taro does an amazing job of giving you, the player, an experience that feels something grand is happening as you play
the game. The seriousness and emotions felt by the characters throughout the game are felt by the player through various ways
and literary devices.
To add, when you think about it deeper, the YoRHa’s plan to continue the cycle of lie in order to give androids a purpose to live and die for is, in essence, fulfillment of the orders they were given, which is to protect humanity. It doesn’t matter that humanity is extinct.
This brings me to my next point and one that originated from a close friend of mine:
The game’s narrative, in a broader sense, has a strong focus on existentialist themes.
Just like existentialists believe the value of all things in life has no objective or universally accepted value,
and that it’s up to the individual to define that value for themselves,
so too do the machine life forms and the androids have to cope with the struggles within the system of values
that they impose on themselves. It’s important that these values must be demonstrated with action and not with words.
If you want to learn more about, or want a crash course on existentialism I recommend googling Soren Kierkegaard
and Fredrich Nietzsche. Start from there.
Speaking of people in history, another major figure is Jean-Paul Sartre. If you recall, there’s one robot in Pascal’s Village
who goes by the name of Sartre and pointlessly rants on about philosophy and existentialism.
The robot next to him says they’ve stopped trying to talk to him a long time ago,
clearly Yoko Taro’s way of the game referencing itself and poking fun, completely aware that some people would find
There are many more examples in the game of individuals needing purpose or to find value in their existence.
The machines in the forest that worshipped a king and held onto a medieval style class system.
The machines in the amusement park that engage purely in the pursuit of entertainment.
The machines in the desert that seems to have imitated the tribe of the Masked People of the Façade in the first NieR.
Even the religious machines in the factory and the peaceful machines in Pascal’s village are all examples of machines
who were disconnected from the network after their Alien masters died and used the data from human history to find
When the Commander tells 9S, “[let the cutscene say it]”, she was referring to the cycle of lie that humanity was still
on the moon awaiting to reclaim Earth.
Let’s wrap this up with one more critical analysis, this time, concerning ending E, the true ending.
My friends and I have noticed there’s quite a bit of people who view even that ending as a sad or not happy enough of an ending.
Hopefully the following analysis can give people the closure they’re looking for.
Veteran Yoko Taro fans most likely know by now, NieR Automata has the happiest ending by far out of his games.
Some may view it as a silver lining, but personally, I think ending E is a much more happier ending than people give it credit for.
The pods at the end are a sort of reflection of the player, in that by this point in the game,
they too have started to care for the characters.
So they gather up all the memories of 2B, 9S, and A2,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and Pod 042 states, “____”
Armed with being able to keep their memories of the events that unfolded at the end,
you’re safe to assume the 3 can embark on a path toward breaking that cycle.
Now, I know by this point you’re tired of this whole struggle of cycle thing, and all of it seems pretty morbid and downright depressing.
But just like Yoko Taro pointed out that you have to find value in the things you ultimately decide to do,
going through the game couldn’t have been all bad right?
After all, you experienced it with countless other players who, in the end, offered their help to you in order to get through Ending E.
It’s the game telling you that whether it’s through happy times or through hard times,
you can always find beauty in life when you’re doing it with someone.
It was honestly a genius move by Yoko Taro and the developers to create such a way for players to somehow come together
at the very end of the game. It’s sort of like saying, yes, we suffered through the stories of Drakengard or NieR, but we did it together.
Like the main characters and all the different factions of machines in the game, including Adam & Eve and The Red Twins in The Network,
you the player fought the creators of the game just like they rejected their’s, in order to save the characters you ended up caring about.
That’s what the Bullet Hell credits were for and the dialogue sequence prior to it.