REVIEW: ‘NieR: Automata Ver. 1.1a,’ Episode 3 – “break ti[M]e”

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NieR Automata Episode 3 — But Why Tho

Having saved a resistance squad from being overwhelmed at the end of the last episode, 2B and 9S head back to their base with them to gather intel on the situation and figure out their next move. Accompanied by the resistance member Jackass, the duo soon departs for a nearby desert where strange activity has been on the rise recently in NieR: Automata Episode 3.

While NieR: Automata‘s first episode was extremely faithful to the events of the game’s opening, the second episode went almost completely off-book as it followed machine lifeforms and the new character Lilly for its story. This week we see a healthy blending of both old and new the show continues to show a willingness to play with its narrative in a way that feels true to the original’s intent. Though this episode also comes with an easter egg for fans of the series.

NieR: Automata Episode 3 opens with the squad’s return to the resistance base. Fans of the game will instantly recognize the interior as the visual designs have taken great care to reconstruct elements faithfully. Lilly, who was identified as “leader” by several resistance members in the last episode, comes to physically take the place of the game’s resistance leader Anemone, confirming she isn’t just a squad leader, but the new leader for the resistance cell entire. Since Anemone was a small character in the original game, this choice doesn’t particularly bother me, but I do wonder why.

Not long after arriving, however, the pair of YoRHa androids are off again, this time with a new companion, resistance member Jackass. Jackass is your classic overly excitable comical personality. Her first interaction with 2B and 9S sees her asking for permission to dismantle the duo. For the science of course. Her preoccupation with learning through any avenue and her enthusiasm for her pursuits makes her a welcome spice of personality for the show’s otherwise low-key personalities.

Upon arriving in the desert, the trio is soon beset by machine lifeforms. These machines are visually different from previous opponents the group has faced. A hack from 9S on one of their larger opponents reveals a hint for the reasoning behind the cosmetic change, as well as a lovely nod to another entry in the series that fans will enjoy, but shouldn’t leave new viewers feeling out of the loop.

Once the momentary obstacles are removed from their path, NieR: Automata Episode 3 follows our trio deeper into the desert and an old housing complex that has long fallen into ruins. Here, 2B and 9S are separated from Jackass as they are brought face to face with a new and perplexing opponent.

One of the weirder sequences in what many would call an overly weird story, this version of the story delivers some small subtle changes to this pivotal moment that I think works for the best. Some unnecessary combat is trimmed out, allowing the story to take center stage, rather than attempting to recreate the gameplay experience of what was a major boss fight in the game. Rather than dwell overly long on the confrontation, we get enough action to show the power level of these new threats, some sleek moves from 2B, and the plot important elements the moment brings. An excellently adapted moment all around.

NieR: Automata Episode 3 continues to build its version of this gorgeous world and intricate plot wonderfully. I love the attention to detail the visuals give to the settings when appropriate, the stylish combat, and the reverence with which the series handles the parts of the story that it must get right.

NieR: Automata Episode 3 is streaming on Crunchyroll.


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