With all the major titles covered, we will close the retrospective by taking a look at the initial concept behind Nier. After that we’ll focus on the developer interviews for the newest installment in the series, Drakengard 3.
Nier began as the direct sequel to Drakengard 2. It was not until a bit later that cavia decided to rename the title as it felt more like a spin-off than a genuine continuation to the storyline. The game was originally supposed to be an Xbox 360 exclusive, but like Squre-Enix’s other game, Final Fantasy XIII, it became a multi-platform title. This was a good decision considering that PlayStation 3 version of Nier sold over 60,000 copies just in Japan during the first week, while the Xbox 360 version sold shy of 13,000 copies.
The initial design had various differences when compared to the released title, we will take a look at those which are noted in Grimoire Nier.
Originally Nier was supposed to be a young boy. While this later changed, the original name remained. He had a different older look and wore a more noble attire than in the released game. The father Nier character also looked quite different in design.
During the development period Nier had several changes, one of them had a classic RPG style design. Above are two designs for Nier, both when he is younger and older.
Likewise Yonah looked a lot younger despite having the same age as in the released version. She wore a much more detailed fabric. Additionally, Yonah was supposed to have a mature version for later in the game, which didn’t appear in the final product.
Emil was one of the most reworked characters in the game. He wasn’t even planed to exist in the title, instead Halua was supposed to be a character. She had the same story as Emil, changing into a flying pig, instead of a grotesque skeleton that Emil becomes.
Emil’s was first called Snow, as in the name of the project Snow White from Nier, but this was changed because Square-Enix already had a Final Fantasy XIII character with the same name. His design was more feminine which explains his crush towards Nier.
Kaine had various concepts. Initial designs had a black and white look. The dual color motive came from the fact that she was possessed by a shade and was supposed to have Grimoire Schwarz. In one faze of the development Kaine was more elegant and hid her violent tendencies. The final image shows that a younger version of Kaine was planed to be in the game.
The setup for the story is similar to the released title. A young brother wants to find the cure in order to save his sister. The difference is that he makes a pact with the book Grimoire Endia. This book controlled fire and it slowly drained his life away. The game had thirteen Grimoires in total, which Nier was supposed to collect in order to save his sister. Each Grimoire gave you a different magic power once you collected it. The final version only features three Grimoires, with the ten still hidden away somewhere in the world.
This picture above shows the concept art for a gameplay screenshot.
Only a few locations survived form the initial concept. The Forest of Myth was supposed to be much larger with a river passing through, but it ended up having a total of three villagers in the final version.
There are also a few unused bosses. The first is Humpty Dumpty who had the eighth book, the Grimoire Axe. The next is Henzel who had the third book, the Grimoire Phantasm. He remained in the released game with a overhauled design, fighting alongside Gretel. The final one is Dorothy a creepy doll, who devours childrens souls. She had the twelfth book, the Grimoire Vigra.
Nier Developer Interview
In this interview the producer Yosuke Saito talks about why the game has region specific main characters. The game also could have had spin-offs if it sold well enough.
Drakengard 3 Interviews
Closing this retrospective are the interviews from the team behind Drag-on Dragoon 3, better known as Drakengard 3. The interviews feature Yoko Taro, the man responsible for the unique plot in the previous titles. He doesn’t usually like interviews and considers them a waste of time, but when he has one he hides his face either using a mask or sock puppet. The other interviews are with: Takamasa Shiba the producer and person who came up with the concept for the entire series, Kimihiko Fujisaka the artist behind the first two titles and finally Keiichi Okabe the composer behind Nier’s phenomenal soundrack.
Drakengard 3 – Launch Trailer
Drakengard 3 – Interview with Taro Yoko, Creative Director
Drakengard 3 – Shiba-san Interview
Drakengard 3 – Kimihiko Fujisaka Interview
Drakengard 3 – Interview With NIER Composer Keiichi Okabe
With this ends our journey through the history of Drakengard and cavia. Next time we will dig into the newest instalment and see if another team can breathe the life back into this series.