A good first impression could have made all the difference with Nier. Instead, you're dropped into what you'll initially think is the blandest and ugliest fantasy world in recent memory. It's a wide-open world that sports a weird, medieval steampunk feel. If there's anything wrong with the world, it's that it feels a bit empty. There's a reason for all of this, but I'd be doing a disservice to any interested gamers if I explained the setting any further. Nier isn't a technically attractive game, but there are occasionally flashes of brilliance. Shades look really cool, and magic attacks stand in stark contrast to the sterile environments.
Perhaps the developers thought that a phenomenal soundtrack and solid voice acting could fill that void. I wouldn't believe that for a second even if the lead designer told me, but the game's sound design is absolutely fantastic. The soundtrack is rich with haunted vocalizations; you'll eventually notice that a number of themes sound somewhat recycled. It's interesting, because the music is always reworked to fit each setting and mood. Whatever you're doing, the music fits the world of Nier perfectly. The voice acting is solid overall, but the supporting cast is outstanding. I adore Laura Bailey for her role in the FUNimation dub of Shin Chan, but in Nier, she delivers a fiery performance as the unbelievably potty-mouthed Kainé, but Liam O'Brien steals the show as Grimoire Weiss, the sharp-witted talking tome that accompanies the main character throughout his adventure. Starscream and I compared our experiences with Nier, and we came to a consensus on several points. One of those points is that Weiss is essentially Alan Rickman... if he were a magical book. His snide remarks put several cracks in the fourth wall, and his presence actually makes the game seem oddly aware of its shortcomings. He complains nearly every time the main character picks up a fetch quest and openly mocks Kainé for being as hardcore as she is.