Emil is one of the returning characters from the original NieR, and while he doesn’t exactly have a major role to play in NieR: Automata, he does have his own in-depth backstory as well.
We first encounter Emil in the commercial district when 2B and 9S are tasked with checking out the Forest Zone to survey the machine presence there. Emil’s iconic round head pops out from one of the machine bodies, though he quickly rolls away from us when 9S suggests that we kill him because he looks weird.
When we find him again in the commercial district, he asks the androids to look for Lunar Tears all over Earth. The Lunar Tear is a white flower that was of great significance to two characters from the first game: Yonah and Kaine. Emil and Kaine were best friends in NieR, and he’d grown especially attached to Kaine because she taught him how to be strong and independent, even when the rest of the world treated him like a freak. As 2B and 9S find more Lunar Tears, Emil starts to regain his memories about the journey he went on during the events of the first game. Soon, he gives us access to an elevator in the commercial district.
The elevator takes us underground, where we find a field full of Lunar Tears, and in the middle of it is a recreation of Kaine’s little rundown shack from the first game. As it turns out, Emil had created this place in memory of Kaine, and it was a reminder of how he was now living in a world that his friends wanted to save. Emil reveals to us that when the machines attacked Earth, he resorted to creating copies of himself to fight back against them. However, due to the repeated cloning, and with the centuries that had passed since then, the clones’ memories started to deteriorate, and the Emil that we talk to (who’s a clone, and not the original one, by the way) had also forgotten what was important to him.
After the player collects all the weapons in the game and upgrades them fully, Emil’s superboss fight is unlocked. When we meet him at the commercial district, he makes a comment about how strong we’ve grown and how we don’t need his help anymore. His mind seems to wander, and he mutters something about how he needs to be strong too. Emil takes off, but the Pod is able to track him down.
The androids make their way to the desert, where we find the oversized heads of all the clones Emil has created over the years. They’ve all gone mad and berserk from the endless fighting, and just the sheer loneliness from all those years of dealing with the loss of their companions. However, Emil says that even if it’s painful, they still have to keep fighting, precisely because this was the world their friends died trying to protect. Also, we get treated to a really sweet and heart-wrenching remix of Emil’s theme during this whole fight.
When we finally defeat the clones, we see that Emil is near his life’s end as well. He apologizes for all the inconvenience he’s caused. Just as his life slips away, he starts to see visions of his old friends once again.
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