With Yoko Taro at the helm, we all knew that Nier Automata wasn’t going to be a comedy festival. Thanks to his work on Drakengard and the original Nier, we knew that whatever he came up with in his latest work would screw with our hearts and minds. We were prepared for devastating revelations about the nature of the world, for characters pushed to their emotional limits. We knew that, and accepted it.
But Nier Automata is also a game that is packed with sidequests. Many of those sidequests offer further insights into the world and its characters – and, of course, they are generally dark and depressing. But there are also some quests that aren’t meant to have that extra depth, that could easily get away with just being some light fluff that bulks out the playtime a little. No, even these quests have a dark twist to them as well. Here I present four sidequests which add nothing to the world and its lore, but are still as miserable as the rest.
Pretty much every JRPG will force you into an unwelcome racing quest at some point. Like fishin mini-games, racing crops up everywhere. On the surface of it, Speed Star looks like standard fare – you encounter an NPC with a need for speed, and have to beat them in three increasingly difficult races to prove yourself sufficiently fleet of foot. It’s not the kind of tihing I enjoy, but for the sake of the platinum trophy, I forced myself to do it.
But when you claim your third and final victory, you’re in for a nasty surprise. Your rival, the High Speed Machine, decides that he has outgrown his need for competition, and that he is now at peace. Great – maybe he can move on with this new, mature outlook. No – instead he self-destructs right in front of you. To top things off, the robot who acted as finish line for all three races mutters “what was up with that guy”, and then immediately self-destructs as well.
Robo Dojo – Red Belt
Father Servo is an NPC on a quest for self-improvement. In the Robo Dojo quest series, you provide him with materials to power himself up, and then fight him at increasing higher levels.
By Red Belt, Father Servo has remodelled himself several times, and is now a respectable level 60. Every other time you fought him, he got right back up and asked for more. This time, content that he finally found someone stronger than him, he hands over the quest reward and then explodes. In any other world, he could have lived on in peace, but not here.
In the city ruins, you meet a robot with a vision for a world of peace and love. To that end, he has arranged for a parade of peaceful machines through the city. Your job, of course, is to protect them from all the hostile and aggressive machines that might attack them along the way.
If you manage to keep the parade alive during the onslaught, their delighted leader will thank you for making the event a success, and promise that more parades will be held in the future. Return to him a bit later, however, and it’s a different story. All his allies went off to spread the message of joy and love, only to get killed in the desert. The lone survivor is now embittered and cynical. “Joy? Love? What is the point? Happiness wasn’t going to keep me from getting killed, now was it?” he remarks. Much as I hate escort missions, I would have taken a follow-up parade quest over this sad conclusion.
Although this isn’t a proper sidequest per se, the wise machines show up as quest markers around the city. If you try to talk to them, they will actively ignore you, but when 9S hacks into them, you can get a sense of their thoughts. The wise machines all ruminate on the pointlessness and insignificance of their existence, finally resulting in self-destruction. Yes, just in case you hadn’t got the message about the futile and miserable nature of existence from absolutely everything else in the game, here’s an optional thing you can do to really drive the point home.