Hello, it’s your resident Drakenier enthusiast, mits! Having just finished NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…, I’ve been more than happy that it’s served as a great reminder of one of my favorite experiences of all time! Now I don’t know about you but after having finished the original all those years ago, I craved to know more about its world so I thought it’d be fun to take a look at some of the supplementary material that followed after its release!
Square Enix has a long history of releasing a multitude of tie-ins that range from light novels, guidebooks, to even more obscure mediums like audio dramas that never saw their way outside Japan. Despite a handful of external materials being present for the original NieR Replicant/Gestalt I decided I’d focus on two of the most popular pieces – the contents of which most are largely unfamiliar with. Due to the spoilery nature of these materials I’ll attempt to refrain from mentioning specific plot points, but those who have had experience with the original should be able to pick up on what I’m alluding to. Without further ado, let’s begin our deep dive into the world of NieR Replicant!
The first of these companion pieces we’ll be tackling is Grimoire NieR, a Japan-exclusive book featuring various illustrations, character profiles, concept designs, story digests accompanied with screenshots and an overall package that’s well encompassing of a guidebook with a weapons list and a walkthrough included. The real meat here, however, is the ten short stories found within! Without saying too much, much like the Drakengard 10th Anniversary -World Inside- book that came with the 10th Anniversary Drakengard Box, there’s quite a bit of depth to these side stories. Whereas World Inside was more focused on side materials such as unused concepts and developer interviews, Grimoire NieR is very much intent on adding more lore to the world of NieR and does so through each side story adding more and more onto the intricate mythos of NieR’s world.
Fair warning here! These side stories are reminiscent of several ideas that were cut during the production of NieR and without saying too much I’d highly recommend checking these out after finishing NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… – especially if this is your first experience with the game since there are a few details that you might have a newfound appreciation for afterwards. That’s not to mention a lot of these side stories expect you to have a full understanding of the story to begin with! Now despite there not being any full translation of Grimoire NieR’s contents, I’m very pleased to say that all of the short stories are translated online. I think both older fans and new ones alike will be pleased as they add onto the lore in meaningful ways and are reflective of some very interesting ideas that didn’t make it into the final product. Overall, Grimoire NieR is definitely something I’d recommend if you loved the original and if you loved the remaster as well!
The next supplementary material I wanted to talk about is the NieR Replicant Drama CD. For those who aren’t familiar with drama CDs, they are essentially recordings of a story (several in this case) featuring performances from the VA’s themselves. Officially known as NieR Replicant Drama CD The Lost Words and the Red Sky, the audio drama goes in-depth into the world of NieR Replicant and includes character backstories taking place three years prior to the prologue of the game, a Kainé focused story taking place after the ending of the original game, and an Emil-centric story as well among many other smaller side stories.
As a result, this audio drama is also not recommended unless you’ve already finished playing the original or the remaster due to it requiring full knowledge of the story. My personal favorite side story from this drama CD are the tracks in Disc 2 which are based on a high school scenario at the Private Replicant High School in which many of the main cast interact with each other in some really interesting and heartwarming ways. There’s a sort of emotional catharsis in hearing these characters act similarly despite the drastic change in scenario and it’s entertaining nonetheless on top of ultimately being unapologetic fanservice. There’s a really nice surprise on the last track of the drama CD set as well but I’m going to keep quiet about it since I feel it’s better experienced on your own. Much like Grimoire NieR, this audio drama has translation available online in an unofficial capacity.
At the end of the day, the world of NieR Replicant (and Gestalt!) is a well layered and intricate one. While I may have touched upon two of the works that make the most out of the groundwork the game provided, there’s a multitude of other works out there that span the entirety of the Drakengard and NieR universe. Most of which also include the Drag-On Dragoon light novels (which I haven’t gotten around to writing about… perhaps another time?) and various stage plays for NieR Automata. That being said, for anyone who’s craving more NieR content after finishing the game, I hope this article has given you a good idea on where to start. The lore of the series runs deep and this is just the tip of the iceberg. With the release of the remaster it’s been exciting for me personally seeing new groups of people experiencing the story for the first time and I’m sure it is for many long time fans as well. Until we meet again, remember, “”Blood is sound, sound is words, and words are power!”
All illustrations used in this article are by the lovely Toshiyuki Itahana of Final Fantasy IX fame! These illustrations were from the Black Box exclusive edition of NieR Automata as part of the NieR Replicant Recollection book which came along with the set.