Strategy Guide Review Policy:
My goal for these strategy guide reviews is not to discuss whether one needs the guide to complete the game. Every gamer has different strengths and skills, and one may need every bit of a guide, another may need to look up information for quick assistance once, and another may laugh at the idea of ever using a guide, even the online freebies. My goal is to determine whether the guide is 1) helpful in the first place, 2) does it encompass gamers who need hand-holding as well as those who need a quick reference and 3) how much information does it really have.
NIER is pretty much a game about killing things, something Nier himself says numerous times. It’s mindless hack-and-slash most of the time; so much so that level grinding is not required. Doing as many sidequests as possible helps your stats for sure and gives you rather nice weapons, but Nier will get extremely powerful (or as the guide says, fiendishly powerful) on his own. As such, the guide doesn’t have that much to offer in terms of walkthroughs – which is fine because no one will really need them – so the authors, Doug Walsh and Joe Epstein, structured the guide to help players get the most Achievements/Trophies as possible. A large handful of the Achievements are focused on defeating the end bosses within a specific time limit, and one Achievement is strictly for beating the entire game in less than 15 hours. In other words, Walsh and Epstein focused on producing the quickest strategies possible.
For example, the sidequests slowly unlock throughout the game, and several unlock at times when you really can’t do anything about them at the moment because either the location hasn’t opened up or the person you need to talk to isn’t available at the time. The guide’s sidequest section is quick to point out when is the best time to take on each sidequest so Nier can do it immediately and not waste time. If he’s asked to go pick up some crystal, the guide will tell you not to travel to that person to activate the sidequest until Nier has access to the markets in Facade, where he can buy crystal instead of trying to hopefully gather it somewhere in the field.
There are also giant appendices in the back of the guide that provide stats, tips, and the fastest methods to become a fishing master or grow a green thumb. I did not try to grow the legendary Lunar Tear or cross-pollinate to create pink moonflower seeds, but I am sure if I followed the guide’s steps and tricks to speed up time, I would have had little difficulty (I still would have thought the process was a complete waste of time, but that’s a story for another day).
However, I did have a few difficulties with the guide, which is why it received a 4 instead of a perfect 5.
The first one was with a map of the Junk Heap in Part Two. The elevator was marked incorrectly on the guide map, and I was backtracking all over the place trying to find it. I became convinced that I was trapped in this section, because obviously, there was no way out. The one good that came of it was all the experience I received from smashing robots and all of the items I collected (I found enough broken antennas to build my own city). An inaccurately marked map is a rookie mistake, and it never should have happened, no matter that it didn’t get me killed or eternally lost.
I also had issues with two of the sidequests, and both were in Part Two. The quest “Contract for a Contractor” required Nier to pick up a few items that could only be found in the B2 level of the Junk Heap, but the guide never once said that Nier couldn’t reach that area until a certain point of the game when he acquires access to that floor. Yet again, I was running all over the place, trying to figure out where this mystery elevator was that could take me to B2. The second quest, “The Pride of a Lover” needed some fluorite from the Barren Temple in the desert. The guide told me exactly where to go to find it and even provided a screenshot of the location, but after combing the room for far longer than I should have, it became apparent that the fluorite doesn’t appear in the same place in the Temple each time you play. I found it on a completely different floor than the guide suggested. I really can’t fault the writers for this, because they would not have known or even thought to have check that the fluorite was always there.
The fact that all these problems stem from Part 2 makes me think that the writers or even the publisher got a little rushed toward the end. Even though these problems did not ruin my experience with the guide or the game, it is the little things that keep the NIER Strategy Guide from perfection.