Nier: Automata, legendary Japanese director Yoko Taro’s mind-bending roleplaying game, has one last marvelous trick, discovered almost four years after the game’s publication.
The key, a cheat code that you can enter to skip to the very end of the game in the game’s intro sequence, was discovered by modder Lance McDonald, who said he spent hundreds of hours reverse-engineering Nier: Automata to discover this ultra-rare find.
For those curious, during the very first boss battle of the game, the hack is a relatively simple button sequence that you must input while placing the main character 2B between a set of barrels, something no player would think to do unless they dug deep into the code of the game.
Without spoiling much of the very unorthodox storytelling structure of the title, this hack can bring you all the way to the sequence of post-credits and unlock chapter collection, a task that typically takes tens of gameplay hours.
According to McDonald, after being mocked by Taro two years ago, he just tried to find the cheat code:
Ok Here it is! After being teased by the game's director @yokotaro two years ago, I discovered the "Final secret" in NieR Automata. Please take a moment to watch and retweet, as it was a monumental task. Also please enjoy the familiar cameo in the intro: https://t.co/XwhqDN5RmU pic.twitter.com/TfIMcHmriQ
— Lance McDonald (@manfightdragon) January 4, 2021
Taro stated the cheat code was deliberate and “hard-coded into the engine,” as McDonald suggested, with a sarcastic tweet mentioning the amount of time it took the mod and secret-hunting groups to discover it.
A characteristically inexplicable “(almost)” symbol was also included, perhaps to express his surprise that someone actually went through the effort to locate it.
I found a cheat code in NieR Automata that allows you to skip to the last ending immediately after killing the first boss and unlock the bonus modes. I'll do a full video soon. It's not a glitch, it's an actual cheat code hard-coded into the engine. @yokotaro pic.twitter.com/FtuNPovq6F
— Lance McDonald (@manfightdragon) January 3, 2021
Nier: Automata is also packed with dozens of Easter eggs, meta-analysis, and coy tricks played on the player, beyond its deserved popularity as one of the most narratively complex and demanding stories ever told in video game format.
So it’s a trait of Taro and his developer Platinum colleagues to have thought about including anything like this in the game, expecting nobody to ever find it.
But, of course, in turn, a game as off-the-wall as Nier has spawned a fan base obsessed with what it has to offer. So maybe it was just a matter of time before someone like McDonald put in the time and effort to find this cheat code that won the game.