Nier Automata, developed by Platinum Games, is a grand example of many interesting, strange and unique parts coming together to create an experience that swells and revels in itself. When the pieces fit, they fit incredibly well besides all parts being odd counterparts to the other including abrupt switches between hack and slash sections fighting against various robotic lifeforms, and 2-D bullet hell sequences to one of the most instantly enjoyable video game soundtracks I have heard in a while.
As you switch between different regions in the game the music will change to some new track soaring to a different feel and tone for that environment. Most games do this fairly well to some degree but the music on display here is immediately grabbing, interesting orchestral arrangements with a real sense of emotional tone existing within the notes and occasional electronic ambiance. Even better are the vocal tracks that strike up at times adding an interesting layer to this strange world of androids built by humans on the Moon sent back to Earth to destroy alien robots. The video below showcases a song from the early game that grabbed my attention.
Amidst the over the top bosses and action set-pieces, the musical layers pull together an engaging experience keeping you trucking forward through the games numerous endings and playthroughs on multiple characters. Combat is never a chore with a well thought out system of execution for combos by letting the player cancel any move into dash and swap weapons mid combo or attack. Paired with this is a story that continues to impress and change itself leading to a more rewarding experience than might be typically found in this genre of game.
The melodies and sounds heard throughout Nier Automata reminded me how much of an impact the right tone can set for a scene when it is not just light background music designed to do its best to not annoy you, which I feel so many games have. Gameplay is the heart, art direction and design are the bloodstream, while music is the pulse driving the moving parts together displaying how fun and memorable a complete package can be. I hope this trend can continue, with more games taking risks in their tonal and musical soundscapes giving way to more impactful cinematic moments as well as creating action segments and more slow-paced sections worth remembering and replaying.