Winner: NieR: Automata
It’s tough to talk about the story of NieR: Automata without spoiling it for newcomers, so you’ll just have to take our word for it when we say that it really is something else. If you’re familiar with the works of Director Yoko Taro, you’ll know exactly what to expect from this game.
Set in the far-flung future, humanity has evacuated Earth due to an alien machine invasion, and the remaining humans have taken refuge on the moon. To fight back against the machines, the humans create androids to drive back the threat. Fairly simple setup, but the story gets so much more complex and involved as you get deeper into it.
Having androids and AI question their purpose and existence isn’t anything new in the realm of storytelling, but NieR: Automata presents these philosophical dilemmas exquisitely, and even if you can predict a few of the game’s earlier plot twists, it’s still hard not to get emotionally attached to the main leads. Perhaps the most impressive part about NieR: Automata is the fact that it doesn’t rely on more traditional storytelling methods to convey this not-so-new story. Whereas most story-driven games these days are presented as cinematic experiences with long, compelling cutscenes and beautiful angles, NieR strays away from the norm and isn’t afraid to try something new.
NieR’s story and lore oozes through its optional weapon stories, its heartbreaking visual novel text adventure segments, and even in the gameplay itself, as the game messes around with camera angles, UI elements, and shoot-em-up portions. Couple that with the game’s top-notch writing, stellar voice performances, and its out of this world soundtrack, and you’ve got yourself the best narrative-driven game you’ll play in 2017.