Nier Replicant’s New Soundtrack is More Mellow Than the Original

With the recent release of NieR Replicant, fans finally have an opportunity to experience the game on modern hardware with upgraded content. Among the changes that NieR Replicant brings, one of the biggest is the new re-recorded soundtrack. When the original NieR launched 11 years ago, one of the most memorable aspects of the RPG was its haunting soundtrack composed by Keiichi Okabe. The reinterpreted soundtrack for NieR Replicant has changed up some of the game’s most iconic compositions and has garnered some controversy from fans disappointed that the original soundtrack isn’t available in the game. Taking a more cinematic approach to soundscapes as NieR Automata did, the soundtrack for NieR Replicant is more subdued than the original with its instrumentation and arrangements.

The original NieR soundtrack was one of the most memorable aspects of the game as the ethereal sounds set a backdrop for the decaying world. In previous interviews, composer Keiichi Okabe talked about the importance of designing a soundtrack to match a game’s thematic elements. Highlighting the importance of combining different emotions together, Okabe stated that he wants players to experience a multitude of conflicting emotions such as hope within sorrow. Furthermore, as director Yoko Taro favors vocal tracks, Okabe ensures that vocalists or choirs are always light, breathy, and atmospheric to avoid distracting players. One of the most notable aspects of NieR’s original soundtrack was that the percussion was often emphasized in conjunction with the vocals. With the unique tribal percussion and chanting vocals, the original NieR soundtrack felt powerful as it drove the action sequences forward. As elements of the game were often modified to match the music, this gave Okabe the freedom to express the acoustic sounds with melancholy without ever feeling heavy-handed.

One of the biggest changes that players will immediately notice in the new NieR Replicant soundtrack is how similar it sounds to NieR Automata. Composer Keiichi Okabe takes the same approach in redesigning the songs so they have a fuller, cinematic feel to them. Favoring the orchestral instrumentation and arrangements, the new NieR Replicant soundtrack focuses heavily on vocals and melodic passages. Unfortunately, this means that the unique percussion and acoustic passages are often toned down when compared to the original soundtrack. For example, tracks like “Gods Bound By Rules” tone down the percussion considerably and this removes the air of tension present in the original NieR soundtrack.

While the core ideas of the songs remain intact, some move towards a more subdued sound to highlight the new orchestral elements. While the new soundtrack will feel more familiar to NieR Automata players, it comes at the expense of losing some of the identity from the original NieR. Where some tracks benefit from the subdued sound and heavier emphasis on melodies, others lose out on intensity or intimacy. Ultimately, the new NieR Replicant soundtrack offers a new experience for players with its emphasis on orchestral melodies and a cinematic sound. Although it’s disappointing that fans don’t have the option to choose the original soundtrack in NieR Replicant, it nonetheless mirrors the game’s themes and sequences masterfully.

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I turned my incoherent ramblings on music, anime, and video games into an entire blog.

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