If online game music obtained the identical consideration that movie scores do, NieR sequence composer Keiichi Okabe could be up there with the likes of John Williams, Howard Shore, and Hans Zimmer. He is that good. In fact, he is not alone: The members of his studio, MONACA, had been instrumental in establishing the franchise’s unmistakable, irreplicable soundscape. Vocalists like Emi Evans, J’Nique Nicole, and Nami Nakagawa deserve their share of the credit score as effectively, singing within the video games’ made-up language as in the event that they had been native audio system.
It is all so unbelievable that selecting the ten greatest songs from NieR Gestalt / Replicant (Replicant from right here on for simplicity’s sake), NieR:Automata, and NieR Re[in]carnation looks like a grievous crime in opposition to each different tune within the franchise. So, earlier than we start, a couple of honorable mentions—one every from Replicant and Automata, and three from Re[in]carnation since none of its songs made the listing (make no mistake, although, it is a stellar soundtrack).
Additionally, just one model of every tune is allowed—so, for instance, together with “Faltering Prayer / Daybreak Breeze” would exclude “Faltering Prayer / Starry Sky” (neither earned a spot, however man are these wonderful songs). With out additional ado, this is the most effective of the most effective NieR has to supply.
Some spoilers for Replicant and Automata forward!
10. “Dependent Weakling” (Automata)
With a title like “Dependent Weakling,” you’d anticipate this tune to be fragile, plinking alongside in order to not break something or harm anybody’s emotions. You would be fallacious… however not completely. The tune kilos ahead, shoving apart every part in its path and stomping on the very concept of weak point. But there is a sense of desperation underlying the sturdy percussion and continuous strings, prevalent within the cries of the refrain.
Contemplating it is Eve’s boss theme, that makes a number of sense. With out his brother Adam—who 2B confirmed no mercy towards in retribution for kidnapping and mutilating 9S—to information him of their journey to grasp humanity, Eve lashes out. The musical contrasts in “Dependent Weakling” assist unmask his rampage for what it truly is: a tantrum stained by grief.
9. “The Wretched Automatons” (Replicant)
Replicant would be the fantasy to Automata‘s sci-fi, however the former’s Junk Heap is crammed to the brim with robots and equipment. Naturally, then, the music you hear while you step contained in the deserted army base there is a bit more technological, per se, than the remainder of the soundtrack. Certainly, “The Wretched Automatons” planted the seeds that may ultimately develop into the likes of Automata‘s “Wretched Weaponry,” but it stays a tremendous piece in its personal proper.
Metallic whirrs, clangs, and booms resonate alongside the instrumentation, as if somebody all of a sudden determined to play music over a manufacturing facility’s loudspeakers. Although the accompanying vocals are sung in NieR‘s authentic language, they handle to elicit emotions of artificial and natural life coming to blows—which is precisely what occurs when the characters go inside.
8. “A Lovely Track” (Automata)
“A Lovely Track” is extra than simply stunning: it is operatic, it is haunting, and it is devastatingly unhappy. It performs when 2B and 9S struggle Beauvoir, a big machine so obsessive about magnificence that she killed different, smaller machines and adorned them like jewellery.
The tune is intimately tied to the struggle in not solely a thematic sense, however a gameplay one. Beauvoir’s actions and assaults sync up with it in such a means that shedding to her time and again is definitely useful, because it helps you be taught her assault patterns—for some time, a minimum of. As soon as she’s on the ropes, Beauvoir abandons all preconceived notions of magnificence and goes off the rails.
Evans and Nicole’s vocals are what actually pull the tune collectively. Beauvoir is dressed like, acts like, and even sings like an opera singer; the vocals reinforce all that completely. Have been the 2 to carry out “A Lovely Track” for an opera-going viewers with no information of video video games, they’d little doubt be applauded with a standing ovation for the ages.
7. “Voice of No Return / Guitar” (Automata)
“Voice of No Return / Guitar” diverges from the unique model in three fundamental methods: it is a couple of minute longer, there are vocals rather than strings, and the titular instrument is given extra room to breathe. Whereas strings can produce among the most stunning sounds within the orchestra, vocals and acoustic guitar are arguably much better suited to when each variations of the tune first play. The common model: after 2B and 9S spare a machine taking good care of wounded animals. The guitar model: Pascal speaks with a few of his village’s youngsters. These are pastoral scenes, and acoustic guitars deliver that kind of small village life to thoughts way more than orchestral strings do.
Comparisons apart, “Voice of No Return / Guitar” is simply so… stress-free. It has an nearly lullaby-like high quality to it, imbued with a quiet power unmatched by most different songs within the franchise.
6. “Kainé / Salvation” (Replicant)
Debating whether or not Replicant‘s authentic soundtrack or the redone music for Ver. 1.22… is healthier is a can of worms we cannot open right here, however within the case of “Kainé / Salvation,” it is fairly secure to say Ver. 1.22… has a leg up. Each renditions are great, but Ver 1.22… sprinkles in simply sufficient additional instrumentation—strings close to the start, a refrain and woodwinds when the chorus hits—to lead to a redo that is concurrently trustworthy and refreshing.
Both means, “Kainé / Salvation” works terribly effectively as a personality theme. There are loads extra all through the franchise, like Yonah’s and Pascal’s, however this one encapsulates who Kainé is after we meet her, who she turns into over the course of the sport, and who she is likely to be after Replicant‘s ending (which, to not probably crack one other can of worms, Ver. 1.22…‘s further content material vastly improves upon). That is the ability music alone can have.
5. “Ashes of Desires” (Replicant)
“Ashes of Desires” options some gorgeous instrumentals, however as one of many few songs sung in precise languages (English, Japanese, French, and Gaelic), its lyrics are additionally worthy of observe. As Evans said in an interview, “Considered one of my strongest reminiscences from [working on Replicant] was the extremely robust time which I had writing the English lyrics to ‘Ashes of Desires!'” With out the veil of NieR‘s nonsensical language, the strain was on for her to not solely lend her attractive voice to the tune, however craft a narrative as effectively—one devoid of all hope.
To say the least, Evans did a spectacular job. The lyrics are as miserable as they arrive, however due to her vocals and the sonorous instrumentation, “Ashes of Desires” would not in any respect come off as edgy—which it completely may have within the fallacious fingers. Let’s simply hope the awful future she sings of by no means comes.
4. “Metropolis Ruins / Rays of Gentle” (Automata)
Put up-apocalyptic although it might be, the world of Automata is ethereally stunning. Regardless of the continued wars between the machines and the androids, Earth has had millennia to get better from the ills of man. Overgrown vegetation coils round dilapidated buildings; even the biggest wildlife roams free, cordoned off by nothing and nobody; our bodies of water sparkle within the daylight, the taint of air pollution a distant reminiscence. It is no much less gorgeous the hundredth time than it was the primary, thanks in no small half to “Metropolis Ruins / Rays of Gentle.”
Each component of the tune, from the mild pluck of the guitar to the rhythmic patter of the percussion, invitations exploration of the damaged but bountiful world. The vocals accompany you alongside the way in which, as if making dialog whilst you uncover the secrets and techniques below each nook and cranny. It is the sort of tune you need to play whereas on a highway journey, or crawling the streets of an unfamiliar metropolis, or experiencing something new. And identical to town ruins themselves, it by no means will get outdated.
3. “The Tower” (Automata)
Shut your eyes whereas listening to “The Tower.” No peeking.
Now, think about your self ascending a seemingly countless set of stairs. Your first steps are gradual, tentative—understandably so, as you haven’t any information of what awaits you up above. Somewhat than worry the unknown, nonetheless, you regularly come to an understanding of types: It doesn’t matter what it takes, and it doesn’t matter what awaits you, you will attain the highest.
Emboldened by this self-imposed mission, you unconsciously take every step not sooner, however extra confidently. Gone is the trepidation you felt trying up, and the temptation to look down is all however nonexistent. There may be solely you, the steps, and the tower. What you are doing is not straightforward, however it’s doable. You may deal with it. You need to deal with it.
Although you’ll be able to’t fairly see it, you sense the highest is close to. As if on cue, you hit flat floor. You have arrived. The spiral stairs that after surrounded you, then comforted you, are gone, changed by… area. Air. Risk—not seemingly countless, however actually so.
Alright. Open your eyes. How do you’re feeling?
2. “The Final Weapon” (Replicant)
NieR is a franchise that is not afraid to bend style—not simply story-wise, however with gameplay. Emil’s manor is among the most outstanding examples: Step by means of the lobby, and the digital camera all of a sudden goes full Resident Evil, fastened angles and all. The music sheds its pores and skin in step with the traditional horror recreation really feel, but retains its Nier-ness, leading to a haunting melody: “The Final Weapon.” It is not till the characters uncover the key lab beneath the courtyard, nonetheless, that the tune completes itself.
It might be the unfaltering march of the percussion, or the eerie pull of the strings, or the otherworldly canter of the vocals, however “The Final Weapon” feels suspended… elsewhere, like sounds are trickling in from one other airplane of existence. That sensation is directly alluring and chilling, promising contact with issues past our understanding whether or not we prefer it or not. On the similar time, the tune teases out emotions and feelings we’re all too conversant in: longing, disappointment, the inevitability of change. Skirting that line between the tantalizing unknown and actuality’s woes is what makes “The Final Weapon” so phenomenal.
1. “Track of the Ancients / Devola” (Replicant)
A redheaded girl perches on the sting of a fountain, strumming her guitar as youngsters and canine chase one another. Her voice shimmers like an angel’s wings, blessing throughout her with a contact of divinity. Although she sings in a forgotten language, it nearly feels as if… you know this tune. Prefer it’s been round for a protracted, very long time—and it has. In-universe, a minimum of.
As the girl, Devola, explains, “Track of the Ancients” is as outdated as its identify, weaving the story of a black e-book that hire the world asunder, and a white e-book whose process was to sew the items again collectively. Her saying that’s one factor; the tune truly managing to really feel prefer it has a historical past behind it’s one other factor completely.
Each model of “Track of the Ancients” is magical, however what provides “Devola” the sting is how private it’s, as if she’s sharing a secret a part of herself with the world. You will hear it because the protagonist walks round his house village, however the vocals solely circulate in—diegetically, thoughts you—every time he is close to Devola. She’s hooked up to the tune not solely due to its inherent magnificence, however as a result of it reminds her of her twin sister, Popola, who’s now so busy that they cannot sing collectively anymore. (Full the facet quest “The Ballad of the Twins,” nonetheless, and Popola will be part of her sister for “Track of the Ancients / Hole Desires,” mechanically and inarguably making it the most effective facet quest in Replicant.) You will inevitably develop into hooked up, too—to each the twins and the tune, which solely makes the ultimate time you hear it in-game harm that rather more.
It is simply… only a transcendent piece of music. Like completely nothing else.
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