Gaming With God: A NieR Truth

Today we continue a final series of Throwback Thursday posts to run through the end of 2020 and celebrating our 10th anniversary! Samuru returns to his Gaming and God column temporarily to discuss one of the most popular games of recent years, NieR: Automata. Enjoy, and continue to stay tuned as other current and former writers revisit their own past columns in the coming weeks.

Welcome back to the Gaming With God column! I’m happy to add another post about the games that I have been playing through and how I feel God has shown me truths from His word (the Bible) while I game. Yes, that sounds a little out there, but when you see life through God’s perspective, He can be found everywhere—even in videogames! Let me tell you about a recent game that has me intrigued, confused, and having a blast—NieR: Automata.

I purchased this interesting and mysterious title by PlatinumGames and created by Takahisa Taura and Isao Negishi quite a while back, but have only beaten it once. I’m on my second playthrough as of this writing, and it has me hooked!

You play as 9S and 2B, androids that were sent by the last remaining humans who have left Earth. They are fighting against robots who have taken over the planet and wiped out humanity. The robots were created by aliens who landed on Earth, but little else is known about them. You are given orders to fight these dangerous androids and take back what was rightfully ours, but the question lingers: Is there more to this?

9S and 2B

The gameplay, music, graphics, and voiceovers are excellent. I can’t find much wrong with this game, except that it doesn’t guide you very much when you are on a mission. It often takes me a little longer than I would like to find where I am going next, but that’s OK; it thus provides me more time to explore and enjoy the experience that NieR gives the player. The music in the game is so ethereal that I really feel like I’m in another world as I play.

There aren’t that many characters, so you get to know 9S and 2B well. 2B, the main heroine, is cold, strictly follows orders, and does not hold emotional attachment to anyone or anything. Her role is to destroy robots, and she does it well. 9S is a more thoughtful and relaxed partner, always looking for the bright side in a situation or just trying to understand why the robots act how they do. As you continue on in the game, the world is revealed as more than it initially seems and there are other forces behind the scenes that you aren’t aware of at first. I am not going to give away spoilers, and honestly, I’m still figuring everything out myself as I have not completed the game enough; supposedly, I need to beat it three times to understand the whole plot! I know this game is fun, but doing the same thing three times is a little frustrating.

Beyond its aesthetics, the scripting of NieR draws you in to discover what happened to our precious Earth. As you face the enemy of mankind—robots of all shapes and sizes—they begin to act strangely. Some talk to you, others try to act like people, and some want to understand what emotions are. It seems like they want to be human.

Once I got to the final boss and completed my first playthrough, I wasn’t really sure what to make of it. The ending wasn’t complete—thus why I have to beat it more than once to get the rest of the details. All along I felt like 9S, who would question the situations they kept finding themselves in while piecing together rabbit trails to form conclusions about what happened so many years ago to Earth.

The pacifist robot village

All the unanswered questions in this game, along with 9S and 2B trying to make sense of it all, reminded me of how life is for all of us. Our conception of how the world is can be one way in our mind, but once you get out there in reality, it’s another story altogether. If you live in a bubble, where you are always around those that think just like you, new experiences are rare and it’s easy to become a person who doesn’t even listen to those that are different than you. If you’re in that place right now, you might not even understand what I’m talking about. The real world can be a shocking place, especially when you start to learn how the world works and how systems function.

Proverbs 18:15 

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
for the ears of the wise seek it out.

Life is all about discovery, and even though we live like we have all the answers, we don’t. NieR teaches that lesson to the player who must discover the truth slowly. Isn’t our day to day living like that? I imagine my life would go one way, or I assume a certain situation will turn out this way or that, but it doesn’t. Instead, I often find myself dealing with challenges I hadn’t anticipated, prepared for, or completely understood. Recently, my wife deliver our first child and our son, who is now about to be a month old, is such a beautiful blessing but at the same time presents real challenges. It’s been very difficult to learn all the details that no one tells you about. My wife and I sadly don’t have a lot of help, and it’s just the three of us figuring out everything day by day. No, we don’t have a “village” to help raise our son, so between asking lots of questions of Google, YouTube, books, and making mistakes. we’re getting through.

I believed that it would be simpler to raise a child. Sure, they are cute and adorable, but when you’re woken up at 3 a.m. daily by a screaming child, your patience is definitely pushed to its limits. You know what? That’s okay because difficulties like these make me into a wiser, more adaptable person. I prefer to learn and grow from difficult situations than to complain about them. There’s so much learn, which lead into the most important and practical tip I can give, which is to ask God for wisdom. Without His guidance, life will hit you hard and you won’t know what to do. He is the one who knows where you should go, what to say, and how to act.

17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

2B and 9S are just following orders, but in the end, they have to discover the truth for themselves. It’s good to listen to others, but as we all grow and mature, there comes a point where you have to make your own decisions for your life.

You cannot always follow someone else’s path. Asking God for wisdom and guidance is key to discovering which path to take (Proverbs 16). What career do you want to work in? Who will you have a relationship with? How do you spend your time or money? There are no simple answers, and it also varies from what country you are in, family upbringing or lack thereof, and countless other circumstances. Either way, God knows more than me and you, so let’s listen to His voice and read His word so we are better prepared for what is out there.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Featured illustration by 藤どら (reprinted w/permission).

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