Weight of the World

How NieR: Automata’s soundtrack embodies the game’s themes and mood

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Content Notification: reference to suicide

NieR: Automata tells the story of the androids and robots who are fighting over the last remains of humanity. Both the androids and the robots display behaviors learned from humans, whether integrated into their own behavior or just mindless mimicking without understanding of why they’re doing it. In the end, it’s revealed that humanity has been extinct for a long time, but it hardly needs revealing, as one of the most striking things about Automata is its use of absence and artifice to speak to the nature of humanity without ever portraying a human at all. Its soundtrack, composed by Keiichi Okabe, reflects this as it strikes appropriate tones of melancholy, emptiness, and repetition. Continue Reading

The Trouble with Bodies

A Trans Reading of Nier


Last year, my friend convinced me to play Nier for the first time. Upon initially booting up the title, it seemed like a typical grimdark male power fantasy with severely floaty controls and a muted, masculine aesthetic. Today, I consider it the only mainstream video game I have played that embodies the trans experience. Over the course of my time with Nier, what at first seemed to be a weak narrative scaffolding attempting to justify fetishized violence transformed into a subversive work of empathic queerness. The game has a series of endings, each building upon the last, culminating in a nuanced network of meaning-making. Through these multiple playthroughs and endings, a cohesive queering of the text emerged in my player experience, with the intersection of my own lived-in qualia of being a trans person and the game’s transgressive body politics acting as the thematic core. What follows is the result of this—a deeply personal close reading of Nier as a triumph of trans narratives. Continue Reading