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E3 2017

Square Enix’s E3 NieR Stream Was Extremely NieR

With musical numbers, fan-favorite characters, and nihilism, it was some perfect, NieR-ass nonsense.

Janine Hawkins

All images courtesy of Square Enix

Near the end of their Thursday afternoon E3 stream, Square Enix ran a block devoted to the NieR franchise—and let me tell you, it was the most NieR-ass nonsense it could have possibly been.

They kicked off by playing a selection of songs from "A Deprival in White, A Revival in Black," the NieR and NieR Automata concert soon to be released on Blu-Ray. Interspersed with instrumental tracks, they aired Emi Evans singing a few songs in the haunting language that came to define NieR and its sequel alongside a few more sung in Japanese by Marina Kawano.

J'Nique Nicole's stirring performance of the English version of "Weight of the World" was shown as well, and definitely, definitely didn't make me cry. I'm also definitely, definitely not getting dewy-eyed again thinking about it now. For all the praise that can and has been heaped on NieR: Automata since its release, everything that game does right still absolutely pales in comparison to its spectacular soundtrack.

But here's where things get NieR-as-heck. From this lump-in-my-throat inducing concert segments, Square Enix transitioned to a segment focussing on the beloved, moon-headed nightmare boy himself, Emil. They played his delightfully absurd shop music, advertised the lyric video contest they're having for said shop music, and then embarked on a 3-man challenge to defeat the game's secret incredibly difficult Emil boss (with Operator 6O's voice actress performing lines on request all the while.)

Oh, and whenever one of them died to the cluster of floating, existentially adrift Emil heads that comprise that boss fight, all three had to play a round of that notoriously painful electric shock game Lightning Reaction.

So just to recap: Square Enix plucked at viewers' hearts with some of the series' most deeply moving songs, cheered them up with a little salute to dearest and best boy Emil, then invited them to spend the rest of that time slot watching people try to kill Emil and also electrocute themselves.

Love and hatred, beauty and suffering, purpose and futility, all intertwined.

Like I said, it was some perfect, NieR-ass nonsense. An archive of this segment (and all of Square Enix's E3 streams) is currently available on Twitch for anyone in search of one final dose of intense and muddled E3 feelings.