Nier: Automata World Guide – An Examination
I’m a fan of many things and some of those things happen to exist in a perfect venn diagram of ever expanding merchandise opportunities. Video games, and artbooks. It should then come as no surprise to anyone that I immediately ordered the Nier: Automata World Guide the very moment it was available. I spend entirely too much time and too much money on Nier, and the products surrounding it, but it’s time and money well spent, because the Nier Automata World Guide is really quite wonderful!
Previously, we have looked at some other Dark Horse collectors pieces that are part artbook and part encyclopedia, I’m happy to say that this World Guide is on par with them. It seems as though Dark Horse have really caught their stride with these books. I mean, have you seen The Art of Metal Gear Solid I-V? I knew they were going to be great based on previous experiences with artbooks of that price, but they genuinely are something else.
But I digress.
The book itself is comprised of art assets and information dumps, which is what you would typically expect, but it comes with a slight variation when it comes to the information dumps. Rather than just dropping you into a book filled with art, you’re actually introduced to the book by way of a short story written by Emi Nagashima, who is also the author of Nier: Long Story Short and Nier: Short Story Long. This story helps to actually bridge the gap from the moments leading up to the first stage of the game, where the player takes control of 2B. It gives some insight into character motivations, and in places deepens characters with some passive development.
For example, before 2B is deployed to the surface with 9S in mission one, the Commander reflects on 2B’s pained expression in a post-combat situation, evidently lamenting the fact that she will once again need to send 2B out with 9S, which will lead to a repeating pattern of suffering. It shifts onwards to the Operators presenting gifts to Commander White in an attempt to emulate humans taking part in Valentine’s Day gift giving, a practice that she should quash, but doesn’t have the heart to do. It’s brief, but poignant stuff, and serves as an excellent introduction to the book.
While the book makes sure you’re given a healthy dose of art that depicts the development process, with places, enemies, specific items, and more being detailed, it also shows off how the characters were envisioned out-of-engine by character designer Akihiko Yoshida. They have a distinctly Square Enix’d anime flare about them that doesn’t actually feel at odds with the accentuated stylishness found in-game.
The Commander in her thigh high heeled boots with a hip-high slit in her gown carries a riding crop. Why? Because she’s literally the dominating force in The Bunker and Commanders of old would carry a riding crop. Thus, the two work in tandem for her design.
Eve, born of Adam, just like the old biblical tales say, is a rough, blunt and confused figure, prone to fits of rage while exhibiting zero interest in the pursuit of personal betterment or knowledge. To that end, he doesn’t even bother with a shirt, content to roam as he is. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he’s only wearing trousers because Adam forced them upon him. Adam, having discovered knowledge (akin to the Eden story) has discovered shame, and thus dresses himself. Eve, having no such interest in learning, is perfectly fine with being half naked. Neat parallels.
Also locked away within its pages are various in-depth looks at the machine life forms and the weapons / weapon platforms they use / ride. They take to the skies in impossible flying machines propelled by fans, and it’s all bloody adorable, but seeing the constructs taken apart and broken down into components like this, you get the feeling that it would be believable were you in-universe.
The Nier: Automata World Guide is, without a doubt, a worthwhile addition to any fan’s collection of goodies. The mix of artwork, information and narrative expansion is fantastic, and who knows, you may even learn something new about the game as you read. For example, did you know that Commander White isn’t a YoRHa android? Well now you do.
This book is something I strongly recommend you buy if you’re a fan of the series; it’s simply too good to miss.
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