Sure, we’d all love a Nier sequel, but what I really want is the return of another Yoko Taro classic
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Sure, we’d all love a Nier sequel, but what I really want is the return of another Yoko Taro classic

As long as Yoko Taro isn’t pulling our leg, it’s increasingly looking like another Nier game is on the way. Whether that’s Nier 3, or Nier 4 if you count Reincarnation (and you should, because Taro himself certainly seems to), no one knows just yet, though the recent hints suggest the word “repent” could fit somewhere in there. That’s all fine and dandy, potentially exciting even, I love Nier! But (of course there’s a but), the thing I’d really love to see most from Taro, is a return to his lesser known but equally interesting series, Drakengard.

If you’re a dedicated Nier/ Taro fan, you’ll likely already be aware of the Drakengard line of games, a short series of games that Taro only actually made two out of three of, but is also deeply connected to Nier itself. I won’t get too deep into the weeds, but believe it or not, Nier is actually a spin-off of the original Drakengard, set in the future of one of its endings that is ridiculously difficult to unlock. That ending is particularly wild, because the entire game has a mediaeval setting, yet for some reason it sees its dragon-riding protagonist thrust to modern day Tokyo, setting the events of the original Nier into motion.

Cover image for YouTube videoDrakengard 3 — Launch Trailer

Drakengard did actually receive a sequel, but Taro had nothing to do with that one, though he later came back for Drakengard 3, releasing in 2013, three years after Nier. Unfortunately, 3 ultimately received mixed reviews, mostly because of severe framerate issues, though gameplay was well received – even if no one liked the dragon-riding parts.

I acknowledge that Drakengard 3 didn’t always play the best, but for the most part I think it was a bit bolder than Nier, a game whose ending really does go places, but the overall formula does (knowingly) rip off Ocarina of Time. Drakengard 3 is a weird game where you play as Zero, a no-nonsense, god-like being who is on a quest to kill her five sisters alongside her anxious dragon partner Mikhail. It’s weird, it’s surprisingly horny, and it’s also full of potential that never really got to be realised.

One of the biggest criticisms towards the original Nier was the game’s lacklustre combat, something that was arguably rectified with its sequel Automata, and later re-release as Replicant ver.1.22. Nier, then, got its chance to shine twice more, arguably, and as mentioned seems like it might do so once again with some kind of sequel. Drakengard, though, feels like it will forever be stuck with only three games, even if characters like Zero have actually appeared as gacha pulls in the mobile title Reincarnation.

It’s not like there aren’t references to Drakengard 3 to be found, if you’re paying enough attention you will see them in Automata, but I do really want those fantasy elements to flourish in a way they haven’t been able to. Riding around on a dragon is an eternally cool concept, and maybe with the benefit of modernity something could be figured out so that it actually works, maybe feels fluid even.

One of the most interesting aspects of Drakengard 3 is how much more openly it acknowledges the game’s different endings, i.e. branching endings. It’s actually the whole framework past the game’s first ending, with the universe-hopping android Accord leading us forward. In fact, the whole reason Accord jumps across various timelines is to find a world where things kind of end happily – ironically, it’s almost like a search for potential. Potential futures, potential resolutions, potential conflicts, all which feel like Drakengard never really got to observe.

I admit it’s entirely possible we’ll see some of this come back in a future Nier game, it is the more popular and successful IP of the two, after all, so I don’t really expect a full return to Drakengard (especially with how risk averse the games industry is these days). So however it has to happen, I hope we see more from the world of Drakengard, even if Taro has to be a bit sneaky about it.

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