Nier Diary no. 2: Desert Doldrums

Nier Diary no. 2 Desert Doldrums

Were you starting to get worried that I’d never continue my Nier Diary journey? Never fear, I’ve been busy playing the game, and I’m happy to report that I have indeed made it past the “point of no return”! In Diary no. 1 I played about 7 hours, and since then I’ve managed to double that time, clocking in at just around 14 hours. Read all my updated impressions after the jump, but be warned – while I’ll be very careful not to reveal any of Nier‘s major twists or story points, if you plan on playing the game and wish to know absolutely nothing past the first few hours, please proceed with caution!

Nier Yonah fanart

This comic is actually very relevant, as I completed the side quest where you need to find ingredients for Yonah to make dinner. A friend told me that once you get to the “point of no return” in the game, you won’t be able to complete quests from the first half (the reasoning makes sense when you play), so I was conscious to try to complete at least the relatively easy-sounding quests sooner rather than later so that I didn’t miss out on too much side content. That said, I’m not really a fan of side quests in general, so there are certainly a few I didn’t even bother trying.

The biggest hurdle for me during this second week of playing Nier was the desert area, particularly the dungeon. There are a lot of design choices in this section that made it quite slow going and more than a little infuriating. First, when you arrive at the desert city, a girl shows you around on a sand boat that is infernally slow. After that you do Nier‘s equivalent of an escort mission where you follow the girl through the desert to the next dungeon while protecting her from wolves. Once you arrive at your destination, you quickly find out that the dungeon’s gimmick is that each room is a puzzle that has certain rules, i.e you aren’t allowed to jump in some rooms, while other rooms take away your ability to use magic or even weapons. On top of all of this, the save point for the dungeon is at the end, rather than the beginning, so you have to do the whole escort mission plus the annoying dungeon in one go. There is no saving on the world map.

Needless to say, I did the escort session and decided to check out the beginning of the dungeon relatively late one weekday night, and eventually had to call it a night without saving. I was so frustrated! Honestly, it took a few days for me to want to go back to the game after that.

Nier Emil and No. 7 cosplay

Luckily, after that segment, the game really starts to pick up. It’s not an exaggeration to say that all of the most interesting things I’ve seen in the game so far all happened after the 10 hour mark. Literally each new area has had some surprising new twist, such as the text adventure forest or the Resident Evil-esque mansion section. I finally met Emil, as well, and he’s undoubtedly my favorite character at this point.

Then, shit completely hits the fan when you reach the “the point of no return.” This game certainly doesn’t pull any punches! Without revealing too much, I have to say I’m surprised that all of the promotional material depicts certain characters the way it does, as I found myself wondering when they would actually resemble the images I’d seen previously (such as on the, ahem, box art). I imagine it’s because you spend most of your time with the characters after the “point of no return,” rather than before it? Either way, I’m really excited to see how the rest of the game develops. Expect me to have finished at least my first run for next time! JRPGJuly may very well have finished, but I’m determined to get to the end.

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About Anne Lee

Also known as apricotsushi. Anne can be written with the kanji for apricot (杏), and sushi was the most quintessentially Japanese thing I could think of when I was 13, resulting in my goofy, albeit memorable, nickname.