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The Spiritual Successor To Nier: Automata Is 1000x Better Than A Sequel

1000xResist clearly studied the legendary game Nier: Automata, and then took a life of its own.

1000xResist cover art.
Fellow Traveller

Television and film have for decades paid clear and transparent homage to the shows and movies that came before them. What is Star Wars without Buck Rogers? The Matrix without Ghost in the Shell? Inception without Paprika? The directors and writers rarely hide their influence — and in the modern era of TV and film, such inspiration and even mimicry is in fact celebrated.

The same sort of dialogue belongs in video games, of course, but the explicit homage is a bit rarer. That is, perhaps, because the follow-ups to the revolutionary games haven’t been as, well, ambitious. Buck Rogers can’t follow Star Wars — it has to be the other way around.

We’re starting to see that change. Take Square Enix’s Nier: Automata, a classic that has inspired many equally ambitious video games in its wake. While games like Shift Up’s sci-fi action adventure Stellar Blade successfully emulated its progenitor's penchant for combat and bodacious aesthetics, other games like the recently released 1000xResist are taking big swings at the deeper ideas behind Nier: Automata put forth years ago.

As far as game studio debuts go, 1000xResist is not only one of the best games of the year so far, but one whose influence is on the rise. What’s more, 1000xResist wades its thought-provoking meditations in a dense pastiche of its artistic inspirations without letting them drown out the essence of its own storytelling.

Fellow Traveller

1000xResist, developed by sunset visitor 斜陽過客, begins where most speculative sci-fi games end: having its protagonist stab her god in the back while rebuking them for their past transgressions. What follows is an in medias res thriller where you play as a Watcher, one of five clones with equally matter-of-fact names, charged with the “function” of witnessing and interpreting disparate memories of the ALLMOTHER through a ritual called “communion.”

Before the ALLMOTHER was the unflinching matriarch lying indisposed at Watcher’s feet, she was a high schooler named Iris who, for whatever reason, was immune to a mysterious disease brought by aliens known as The Occupants who brought about humanity’s extinction. Through Watcher’s eyes, you discover that her god, ALLMOTHER, was a cruel and selfish teenager who shouldn’t have been left with the almighty responsibility to recreate society in her image.

Gameplay-wise, 1000xResist is probably best described as Nier: Automata mingled with Life is Strange and its lesser-discussed predecessor, Remember Me, but without all the action. You spend the majority of the cinematic visual novel chitchatting with your fellow clones, traversing different time periods, and occasionally darting across platforming memory puzzles. Despite being a linear game where you essentially point and click your way through an array of interactive setpieces, 1000xResist doubles as a rich meditation on language and identity.

Fellow Traveller

Nier-isms, yet so much more

What made Nier: Automata stand the test of time as a unique RPG is how it confidently deconstructed the rules for narrative game design to connect with players on an intimate level from the other side of their screen. Through a series of fourth-wall-breaking junctures, Nier: Automata asked the player to question why they do the video-gamey things they do without scrutiny. Look no further than 2B’s opening line where the android ponders whether the cycle of destruction she finds herself ensnared in is a cryptic puzzle bestowed to her by God as a punishment and whether she’d ever have the opportunity to terminate him.

Fellow Traveller

This narrative through-line not only lambasted the countless hours players spent mindlessly hacking and slashing enemies — many of whom are never the aggressors — but also played a major role in players banding together against the notion that their beloved characters were doomed by the narrative, even when their rallying came at the expense of their save data being wiped clean.

While 1000xResist doesn’t venture to replicate the exact same hat trick auteur Yoko Taro often does in his games toward its final act, it instead invites players to decide the kind of future they’d like to live in — regardless of whether it’d align with the wishes of characters you’ve encountered along your 10+ hour journey — and what relics of the past they’d wish to leave behind.

Fellow Traveller

Typically when games make public knowledge of the cultural touchstones it was inspired, they set themselves up for reductive comparisons that inevitably end in discussions about how they couldn’t surpass what came before it.1000xResist makes no secret that it pulled inspiration from games like Nier: Automata, Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love, and Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress.

While 1000xResist undoubtedly harbors characteristics of Nier: Automata’s existential inquiries; In the Mood for Love’s devastating tale of romantic longing (via a queer lens); and Millennium Actresses’ time-spanning exploration of loss, it is not dogmatically beholden to being known as a cover act of its inspirations. They instead serve as 1000xResist’s bones, but not the muscle, skin, and voice that bring it to life.

1000xResist is available on Nintendo Switch and PC.

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