Cute robots, sexualized androids, a weird story, and philosophical themes are easy ways to summarize the beloved NieR: Automata. First released on March 7 in the US, Yoko Taro’s latest creation had fans around the world, both old and new, hooked throughout its catastrophic plot, stylish combat sequences, and female features. Many of the game’s aspects can be pointed as the cause of its success, but one that stands out is its soundtrack.
Composed mostly by Keiichi Okabe (Tekken 2, Nier, Drakengard 3) and Keigo Hoashi (Tekken 6, Nier, Drakengard 3), NieR: Automata‘s soundtrack is comprised of a collection of classical tracks that span from soothing tunes to aggressive and even playful ones. Different samples of such tracks are used throughout the game to generate specific atmospheres within the limited world.
There’s no denying that NieR: Automata‘s soundtrack is filled with beautiful songs, but a few stand out more than others thanks to how brilliantly they are used for specific moments. It was a hard selection, but here’s our list of the ten most memorable NieR: Automata songs. Be warned, however, that there might be spoilers ahead.
1. Alien Manifestation
Although NieR: Automata mixes genres with its hack-n-slash nature, there was no better way to start it than with the YoRHa units descending to Earth. The opening sequence is a bullet hell feast that keeps on changing perspective. It’s unexpected, dynamic, and is led by a song that applies an urgent atmosphere. Samples of Alien Manifestation can be heard throughout the game, but no other moment is as impactful as the prologue.
2. Amusement Park
Beauvoir, the opera lady, was the first boss fans got to witness. She is the final boss of the Park Ruins area and although in the first playthrough the fight makes little sense, taking control over 9S provides a different insight. Her theme, A Beautiful Song, was also one of the first times the public was introduced to one of the game’s most impactful tracks, but it didn’t make it to the top of this list simply because the track Amusement Park comes off stronger when we first arrive at the decaying Disney-like structure. With the thematic surrounding previous songs, the atmosphere provided by this one and how it reflects the area is a shocking contrast.
Following in Amusement Park‘s footsteps, Pascal welcomes 2B and 9S to the peaceful machine village led by the lifeform of the same name. Those who managed to avoid spoilers might’ve been surprised by the sequence with all sorts of machine lifeforms waving white flags, a universal symbol of peace. The track that punctuates the exploration and dialogue around the village is unexpected. Featuring children’s vocals, Pascal is playful and its melody perfectly describes the intentions of those inhabiting that side of the woods.
4. City Ruins – Rays of Light
Our first introduction to the world of NieR: Automata isn’t much of a surprise, but the way it’s presented certainly leaves an impression. The desolate ruins and how nature took back what was originally hers is not something we see every day in post-apocalyptic video games. The musical theme City Ruins grows progressively as we play and by the time the song is fully unlocked, the vocals are immediately noticeable. The soothing yet hopeless melody feels like the buildings and abandoned vehicles: a long lost memory of humanity.
5. Fortress of Lies
Usually when a prologue is filled with action as in NieR: Automata, getting to the actual game breaks the pace in an unrepairable way. Developers tend to throw players into a big open world right after a short introduction, which completely breaks the story flow. Yoko Taro didn’t rush in, however, and before we ever set foot on Earth we get to know the small yet comforting Bunker, YoRHa’s headquarters. The black and white filter gives it a timeless feeling while the theme Fortress of Lies rubs our heads and reminds us that this is an extremely safe space where we’re not meant to dwell for long.
6. Birth of a Wish
It doesn’t take long until Automata‘s weirdness kicks in. One of the first boss battles, Adam is odd and raises a lot of questions regarding what exactly is going on. It’s a striking moment that happens not too far from the beginning and it features a fitting theme. However, Birth of a Wish isn’t as memorable during the fight against Adam as it is when 2B and Pascal revisit the abandoned factory. During this sequence, Birth of a Wish includes the chanting “this cannot continue,” which plays throughout the journey back to the surface. It could’ve been mediocre and repetitive, but added to the urgency of the escape plan and the story behind the cult, it helps to engrave this chapter on the player’s memory.
7. A Beautiful Song
Beauvoir is a striking boss that makes use of many mechanics found throughout the game. It’s a fast, fun, and intriguing fight presented with A Beautiful Song. The track is one of the strongest in the soundtrack with its tragic melody and loud, clear vocals. The added flavor of 9S’s perspective gives another meaning to the fight with its philosophical approach, turning the theme into this boss’s anthem.
8. Emil’s Shop
One of Nier‘s most iconic characters makes a comeback in Automata. Emil turns out to be just a little less important in the sequel’s overall story. After meeting him in the ruins of a shopping mall, 2B, 9S, and even A2 may find him riding around the city ruins selling goods. Finding him is easy as there’s a familiar map icon running amok while a… peculiar song plays. Blasting from Emil’s megaphone is this unusual song. It’s impossible to miss his wandering shop when this cacophony can be heard a whole block away.
9. Wretched Weaponry: Medium/Dynamic
It can be hard to pin down exactly when Wretched Weaponry plays. Its motif is familiar, seemingly present in many other tracks, but the vocals are somewhat unique. They stick to the player’s head, haunting their thoughts. It’s a sweet track that reminds us of loss and decay. The Medium/Dynamic arrangement gives it an intriguing sense of urgency that doesn’t seem to match the tranquility of the vocals, but the two come together to from an inspiring song that sticks to the listener.
10. Copied City
Among all the surprises NieR: Automata has in store, the copied city is one of the best. The revelations from ending C onwards are jaw-dropping, yet none is as visually shocking as this underground complex. The sequence taking place within this small city replica is short, but it raises questions regarding Adam that only get answered after another ten hours. The untextured buildings and their cleanliness are unexpected given the ruined aspect of the overworld, and the music theme only adds to the mystery of why all those YoRHa units were placed there, or why 9S is somewhere within.
The soundtrack has a little more than 40 songs, so picking just ten was a daunting task. This is our opinion on the game’s most memorable tunes, but we would like to know your experience as 2B, 9S, and A2. Which NieR: Automata songs left a lasting impression on you? Let us know in the comments below.