NieR: Automata is, in my opinion, the most important thing to have happened to the video game medium in 2017. It has fun gameplay and a suitably convoluted JRPG plot, but its most essential aspect is how it plays with the conventions and the limitations of the art form to bring across its themes and messages. Since I am not nearly qualified enough to perform a deep-dive analysis of said themes and messages, but fortunately, there are smarter and more knowledgeable people on the net who did. In this post, I put together a reading/viewing list of comprehensive analyses that helped me form a deeper understanding of the game. Needless to say, all of them contain plot-shattering spoilers of the game's story.

On Lore

  • "Lore summary - From Drakengard to Nier: Automata" (ValkyrieAurora, 27:18). Automata is the fifth (!) game in the Drakengard/NieR franchise, and while it is mostly standalone, I found this comprehensive summary of the previous games' plot and lore to an interesting insight into the series' developers' creative philosophy.

On Ending E

On Existentialism

  • "Most Philosophical Game Ever?" (Wisecrack, 16:09). A rundown of the game's Nietzschean and existentialist themes.
  • "Nier: Automata's Uplifting Existentialism" (Super Bunnyhop, 20:50). An examination the game's treatment of existential horror, complete with a Marxist reading of its themes and theorizing on how it all may be Yoko Taro's deconstruction of both existentialism and the Japanese spirit.
  • "A Comprehensive Reading of Nier Automata" (Adam Millard, 1:00:38). A complete, in-depth analysis of the entire game's plot and its central question of how to find meaning in a fundamentally meaningless world, explaining how exactly Ending E paradoxically arrives at the answer that it gives us.

On Gameplay and Story Integration