Review – NieR:Automata The End of YoRHa Edition (Switch)

I know I’m preaching to the choir when stating the following, but when reviewing a game, we are basically telling consumers two things. The first one is telling everyone if a game is good or not. The second one is telling people if said game is worth buying. Let’s just say that 99% of the time, a good game is worth buying and a bad game isn’t worth buying. The exceptions to the rule are games that are so bad they’re absolutely worth grabbing (we have an entire section dedicated to those games in this site) and the occasional good port of a good game to a platform that does it no favors. The Nintendo Switch version of NieR: Automata, yet another of the “impossible ports” available on the system, is a clear example of the latter.

NieR: Automata Visuals

Several setbacks had to be taken in order to make NieR: Automata run on a Switch.

Originally released in 2017, NieR: Automata is one of the best games released during that generation of consoles. It was a perfect mash of outstanding visuals, great performance, addicting combat, one of the best soundtracks in recent memory, and most importantly, brain-melting storytelling. It was a really demanding game for the PS4’s hardware, to the point of being locked at a 900p resolution in order to guarantee a smooth 60fps for its trademark Platinum-styled gameplay. Hack ‘n’ slash and bullet hell shooting, the two genres NieR: Automata tackles so magnificently, demand the smoothest and fastest of framerates, after all. How would the Switch, a console with such dated hardware, handle Automata‘s requirements?

NieR: Automata 2B

Nah, I don’t think we are worth praising right now…

The quick answer is that it doesn’t. The Switch port of NieR: Automata does not run at 60 frames per second, as to be expected. Shockingly enough, however, it manages to achieve a shockingly stable 30fps, at a high resolution, at the obvious cost of decreased geometry and vastly reduced textural and particle quality. On portable mode, however, I did notice a few hiccups. Nothing major, but still noticeable. In any other instance, I’d call that a slam dunk. Here’s the thing, though: NieR: Automata is not any kind of game. It’s a title that requires the largest of screens and the smoothest of framerates. The Switch version goes against what I believe are the core principles of the game as a whole.

NieR: Automata Boss

The first of many mindf***s happens not long after this section. If you know, you know.

Here’s the thing: both genres tackled by NieR: Automata pretty much require 60fps in order to feel smooth and responsive. Ever since the dawn of times, bullet hell shooters ran at fast framerates. These sections feel less smooth in this version, as to be expected. I will say that, despite being tied to a terrible controller and underwhelming performance, NieR: Automata‘s gameplay somewhat holds up, but there are other elements that bring this version down. For one, the gameplay itself isn’t suited for a portable, with smaller details just disappearing in the middle of the smaller screen, and the lack of “save anywhere” functionality going against the “pick up and play” nature of a portable.

There’s also the fact that the game’s overall grandiose factor is hindered by deciding to play it on a portable. For instance, the utterly epic soundtrack takes a toll by being compressed, in order to reduce the game’s file size to something that fits inside a small SD card, and being blasted through the Switch’s really bad speakers. Another factor is the game’s cinematic appeal. Let’s just face it: portability is fun and all, but impactful cutscenes are better enjoyed on a large screen.

NieR: Automata Existentialism

When you die you’re dead, and people die when they’re dead.

You can argue against my points by stating that the Switch is hybrid console, and you can mitigate some of these issues by playing NieR: Automata on docked mode, but then I’d reply with a simple “why bother”. Why would I want to replay a less smooth and less visually appealing version of NieR: Automata on a big screen when countless other ports of the game have already been ported elsewhere, and can be found for really cheap nowadays? This is the theoretical nail on the coffin for me: this version just arrived way too late to the party. It almost feels like it was ported to the Switch out of a dare, as if someone had dared Yoko Taro to port a seemingly impossible game to such inferior hardware. Sure, you’ve succeeded, but at what cost?

Bullet Hell

Bullet hell sections should always run at a locked 60fps. It feels weird and wrong otherwise.

Here’s the weird conclusion to this weird port of a really weird game: I don’t think the Switch version of NieR: Automata is worth your time, despite it being, for all intents and purposes, excellent. Considering the limitations of the hardware it was ported into, it’s a godlike effort, but one that makes it the worst version ever released for this game, by far. You’re not getting the best version of its soundtrack, you’re not getting the best visuals, you’re not getting the best framerate. Even though you could, in theory, play it all on docked mode, why bother? You can get better performing and cheaper versions of it elsewhere. As such, the Switch port of NieR: Automata is only recommended to those who are demented die-hard fans of this fantastic game, as well as people who want to play impossible Switch ports just for the sake of it.


Graphics: 8.0

Considering the hardware it was ported into, it’s not the worst of visual compromises, but it’s tied to 30 frames per second, and that’s a really bitter pill to swallow after playing Automata at double the framerate for the past half decade.

Gameplay: 8.5

The control responsiveness has taken a toll due to the framerate cut, but it’s still pretty good, all things considered.

Sound: 9.0

It’s the same godlike soundtrack you know and love… but slightly compressed… and coming from the Switch’s poor quality speakers.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Here’s the weird part: at its core, this is still NieR: Automata, and it’s excellent. It’s also a high quality port, considering the hardware limitations. At the same time, there is nothing about it that feels superior to other ports, nor does it feel better to play or fit the nature of a portable.

Final Verdict: 8.0

NieR: Automata – The End of YoRHa Edition is available now on PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.