It isn’t too much of an exaggeration to say that Nier Automata – just like Gestalt/Replicant before it – has a good soundtrack. 2017 was an excellent period for videogame music in general, whether you were getting into Persona 5’s tunes, turning up the dial whilst in the middle of Sonic Mania, or enjoying that atmospheric FFXII score all over again when playing the Zodiac Age remaster. It’s no secret that videogame soundtracks play a vital part in forging strong, lasting memories of our favourite titles, and Nier Automata excelled in this regard. From the powerful “Birth of a Wish (This Cannot Continue)” piece that plays when the androids first encounter Adam, through to the gentle track “Vague Hope” – playing as you reach one of the game’s conclusions – Nier Automata had plenty of memorable musical moments. (And that’s before we even get to the brilliant covers of songs from Gestalt and Replicant…) It helps that the game itself was captivating in its own right, with an intriguing storyline and engaging gameplay that made hours seem like minutes; however, even after I had seen the main endings, I would still listen to key pieces of music from the game. Although I’ve yet to pick up the main game soundtrack, I was interested in the announcement of the Nier Automata Piano Collections CD – a selection of tracks from the game covered by a number of musicians, all under the supervision of original composer Keiichi Okabe. I’ll admit that I was simultaneously nervous and excited to find out how well the diverse music of Nier Automata lent itself to piano compositions… however, since listening to it, I can safely say that there’s a lot to enjoy here.
Highlights from Nier Automata Piano Collections
The Nier Automata Piano Collections CD has a selection of twelve tracks, and whist this might not seem like a big number when you consider how much music is in the main game soundtrack, I get the feeling that most of the best tunes are captured in this collection. Fittingly, the collection of tunes is bookended by Weight of the World (one of the main themes of the game) and Vague Hope (a tune you hear in one of the game’s endings); both of which are recreated as soothing, gentle melodies… although Weight of the World builds up nicely in the middle of the track, and Vague Hope toys with a slightly slower tempo at times which fits the tune’s “feel” extremely well. Elsewhere, the lonely, gentle atmosphere of the City Ruins piece is captured well (although the tune gets a little excited before it winds back down at the end), and my personal favourite piece is probably the Copied City rendition. I remember this theme being a complex and busy melody in the game (not to mention having a key piano part in there already), and hearing the piano rendition brought back memories of that moment in the game immediately.
Nier Automata Piano Collections – worth a preview
If there are any downsides to the Nier Automata Piano Collections CD… well, you might not get as much out of it if you haven’t already played Nier Automata, although that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Also, the piano music is impressive but may feel slightly “stark” compared to the more fleshed-out pieces of music you hear in the game. As well as this, it might not be easy for everyone to get hold of – my own copy is a Japanese import, and although there are third-party sellers on Amazon UK at the time of writing, these could still be pricey. However, I believe a lot of the music is streamable on YouTube (again, at the time of writing), so track it down and – if you like what you hear – consider picking up the CD for all the high-quality tuneage you desire (and to support the people behind the collection, of course!)
Nier Automata Piano Collections is out now.