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Neil: Artificial Life, Upgraded Review: A Smoother Gaming Experience

Neal: Artificial Life Ver.1.22 basically continues the original model from that year. Although the original setting, characters, and overall plot structure have not changed, some new expansion content has been added, such as interspersed plots related to Neal: Age of Machines, and the short story “Mermaid Princess” recorded only in the setting set.

Other changes are the evolution of the game graphics and the improvement of the combat system. Overall, various improvements make the experience of listening and operation of this game closer to “NieR: Age of Machines”.

I used a PS5 console for this test. The frame number of the game is quite stable, and the texture and model of the characters have been greatly improved compared to the original version. The hair and face shape appear more natural and round. However, the scene still exudes a backward atmosphere, and the environment and objects lack detailed processing, resulting in a rough performance.

Who doesn’t like Kaini?

The combat performance of the original version of “Neil: Artificial Life” was not satisfactory. Therefore, this upgraded version has made significant improvements and optimizations to the combat system.

The addition of basic locking function makes it easier for players to use shooting spells such as “black bullets” and “black guns”. The addition of action elements such as anti-counter and back-around further enhances the operability of combat. The redesign of energy storage and light and heavy attack actions makes the connection between moves and spells smoother.

These elements are already very common in current action games, but for this game from eleven years ago, the improvement in combat experience is still very significant.

There are three types of weapons in the game: one-handed sword, two-handed sword, and long spear. These three weapons have different characteristics and advantages in combos, range, attack speed, etc. As the game progresses, players can obtain a relatively rich variety of magic skills.

During the battle, players can switch between weapons and equipment magic skills at any time, and can freely combine and connect them. Coupled with the cool move and action design, the combat experience of this game has the smoothness and pleasure of a Japanese action game. However, compared to the personally developed “Nier: Age of Machines” by Platinum Studio, the sense of impact and the gorgeousness of the combat are still somewhat lacking.

In addition, the combat system of this game lacks some technical mechanism design, and the types of enemies and action modes are relatively simple. This makes the combat of the game more inclined to unparalleled works, refreshing but also somewhat monotonous.

The combat operation of the game is very easy, and there is basically no threshold for ordinary players.

As for the exploration and mission modes of the game, they have not been greatly improved, which seems quite outdated from the current perspective. Due to the development cost, the map scale of this work is not large, and the areas between them are basically connected by a simple wilderness map. The feeling of shuttling through several areas is like visiting a neighboring village. There are no other environmental and interactive elements in the wilderness except for a few material points and monsters.

Although some tasks contain some interesting plot designs, most of them are still purely in the form of running maps, delivering goods, eliminating several monsters, or collecting several materials, which is boring and tedious.

Weapon upgrades and enchanting entries in the game are also very formal, with no other highlights except for weapon stories like “Mechanical Age” and “Cavalry on the Dragon’s Back”.

The setting and plot still maintain personal style.

The story of this work roughly tells the journey of the protagonist Neil to save his sister Youna, who suffers from Haven’s disease, and to search for healing leads with the mysterious book White Book and his companions Kaini and Emil. Although “Cavalry on the Back of the Dragon” and “Neil” are connected in the timeline, having not played the other works will not greatly affect the plot experience of individual works.

Similar to several other works by Yoko, this work also has a multi-ending design that requires multiple rounds of gameplay to unlock. As players master more and more content, they will have a new understanding of the plot, emotions, and thoughts of the previous experience. Of course, repeating the same levels and battles is not a good experience for players. Fortunately, the game’s multiple rounds can start from the middle and later stages of the process, saving some time.

In the game, Kaini’s sharp tongue, bad mouth and her growth process; Emil’s optimism and kindness, and the experience of sacrificing his own appearance in the process of rescuing Kaini are all impressive. In this broken and desolate world, the stories experienced with the characters become the carriers of emotional transmission.

However, in the regular process, the White Book that can speak actually has more interaction and communication with players. The White Book is similar to the auxiliary robot in the mechanical era. In various situations, it will have many interesting conversations with the protagonist.

For example, there is no fast teleportation function in the level of this work. Personally, I have complained to my colleagues several times during the game. Once during the exploration of Mechanical Mountain, the protagonist Neil also mentioned this point. Bai Zhishu will talk confidently and explain why there is no teleportation function from the perspective of worldview setting. Although he knows it is only a fixed dialogue design, Bai Zhishu often complains or puts forward his own opinions at some appropriate nodes, as if he is really communicating with players, which feels great.

Finally, it should be mentioned that the plot development of this work still has some “depression control” tendencies. Please be prepared to eat knives before playing.

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