Monday, February 11, 2013

Case Study No. 0778: Popola

Let's Play NieR , Part 5 - SHEEEEEEP
The adventure continues as we begin to unravel a vague sense of storyline!
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[scene opens with Nier comforting his daughter Yonah, who is sick in bed]
NIER: All right, I'm off.
YONAH: Dad? Hey, Dad ... you wanna hear about the crazy dream I had last night?
[she coughs]
NIER: Mmm?
YONAH: See, I was in it, and you were in it too, and we were riding around on this huge pink cloud, and then--
NIER: Yonah? I'm sorry. I have to go. You can tell me when I get back.
YONAH: Oh, wait! Can you get me a book while you're out?
NIER: Sure, now stay here and rest. We can't have your cough coming back.
YONAH: [pause] I love you, Dad.
[he exits the house]
NIER: [to himself] I should go to the library and see what Popola's up to.
[the player makes his way to the library, and enters the office of Popola (a young woman with brownish-red hair)]
POPOLA: Good morning. How's Yonah doing today?
NIER: Her cough isn't any better.
POPOLA: Mmm ... That's worrisome. I hope she gets well soon.
NIER: Me too. I feel so helpless. Other than making sure she eats properly, there just isn't much I can do for her ... Most days I feel like a total failure.
POPOLA: Oh, stop that! You're the finest father a girl could hope to have. Well, anyway, I was hoping you could take care of this for me. I got a request from someone in the shopping district. They need you to get some mutton from the northern plains.
NIER: Got it. I'm on my way.
POPOLA: Since you're going to the plains, let me give you a map. It'll come in handy, trust me.
["Obtained Northern Plains Map" appears on screen]
POPOLA: Oh, and one more thing ... Would you mind purchasing three medicinal herbs from the client while you're at it? I used my last one earlier. Here's some money.
["Obtained 1000 gold" appears on screen]
NIER: I don't think herbs cost this much.
POPOLA: Well then, buy some for Yonah while you're at it.
NIER: You don't have to--
POPOLA: It's okay. Really.
NIER: Thanks, Popola ... for everything.
NIER: You know. All the work you give me. You've been telling the villagers that I'm for hire, haven't you?
POPOLA: Oh, that? It's nothing. They need help, and you need money to take care of Yonah. This way everyone wins.
NIER: I suppose so.
[he exits her office, then finds Yonah standing in the library]
NIER: Yonah?
YONAH: Oh! Hey, Dad!
NIER: Dammit, Yonah. You know you're too sick to be outside! Look at you. Now your ribbon is coming undone and everything ...
YONAH: S-sorry, Dad. I just thought ... I thought maybe I'd go to the library and see if they had any books about my sickness.
NIER: Yonah ... Just let me worry about that, all right? You need to eat and sleep and focus on getting better. If you do that, your illness will take care of itself.
YONAH: [pause] You really think so?
NIER: Yeah, I do. Listen, I've got a lot of work to do, so I'll be back in a while. Okay?
YONAH: Okay!
[the player exits the library, then explores the village and speaks with its inhabitants]
VILLAGER: The library in our village is a relic from the old world. I'm amazed so many of its books survived. I can't make heads or tails of most books, but Popola can. I hope she can help us learn more about the past! Popola is like the village's mother. She really takes care of us. Like how she's always finding you odd jobs!



Nier is an action role-playing video game developed by Cavia and published by Square Enix. It was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in Australia, Europe, Japan and North America in April 2010. In Japan, the game was an Xbox 360 exclusive titled Nier Gestalt, while an alternate version titled Nier Replicant was released for PlayStation 3 with a younger main character. The game follows the titular Nier as he attempts to find a cure for an illness, known as the Black Scrawl, that his daughter Yonah has succumbed to. Partnering with a talking book known as Grimoire Weiss, he journeys with two other characters, Kaine and Emil, as he attempts to find a remedy and understand the nature of the creatures, Shades, that stalk the world. The gameplay borrows elements from various video game genres, switching to them from the primary action role-playing style.

The game opens with a prologue during the summer of 2049 in a snowstorm. In a modern but broken-down grocery store, Nier fends off attacks from ethereal monsters to protect a sick young girl, Yonah. After defeating the monsters, he checks on Yonah, who has begun to cough badly. The game then cuts to 1,312 years later, where the player sees what appears to be the same two characters, now living in a village built upon the ruins of an old town. The low-technology village is one of several, and is surrounded by more modern ruins such as the remnants of train tracks and industrial machinery. The areas between towns are filled with monsters known as Shades that attack travelers.

As his daughter's illness, the Black Scrawl, is terminal, Nier sets out to look for a cure. Nier finds a talking book, Grimoire Weiss, which suggests that the two team up to use Weiss' magic and to find a cure for Yonah's disease. In their search they encounter the hot-tempered, foul-mouthed Kaine, and a blindfolded young boy, Emil, whose eyes petrify anyone that they see. After journeying for a time, the village is attacked by a giant shade; the battle culminates in Yonah being carried away by a master Shade that suddenly appears—the Shadowlord—who carries his own book, Grimoire Noir.

The game then jumps five years forward. Nier and the others are trying to find the parts to a key that they believe will help them locate the Shadowlord and Grimoire Noir. After defeating five shades and assembling the key, the team go to defeat the Shadowlord. There, Devola and Popola, characters who have been guiding Nier on his quest, appear to try to stop them. They explain that 1300 years prior, humanity faced extinction due to an incurable disease. In an attempt to survive, they separated their souls from their bodies using Grimoire Noir and Weiss. They created clones resistant to the disease, Replicants, and intended to recombine the souls, or Gestalts, with the Replicant bodies once it had died out; Devola and Popola were androids set to oversee the project. Over time the Replicants had begun to form their own identities, while the Gestalts, or Shades, had grown aggressive to them.

Nier defeats the pair, with Emil sacrificing himself as part of the battle. The team then defeats the Shadowlord, and discovers that he is the Gestalt form of the Nier from the prologue. Driven to protect his daughter, he was the first Gestalt and has combined his daughter with the Replicant Yonah. The original Yonah, however, tells her father that she can hear the new Yonah inside her, and that she loves her father and deserves the body just as much. She vacates the body, and Nier and Yonah are reunited.

If the player plays the game again, they start just after the five-year skip. They learn about Kaine's past, including that she is intersex, which along with the death of her parents resulted in her ostracism as a child, and that she is partially possessed by a shade. The player gains the ability to understand what the shades are saying, including the one possessing Kaine, though in-game Nier, Weiss, and Emil are still unable to. Additional cutscenes are also shown, giving the motivations and backstory behind the shade bosses that are fought and showing them as sentient people trying to defend their friends against Nier. The ending to the second playthrough shows that Emil survives his sacrifice, and that Gestalt Nier and Yonah are reunited after death. A third playthrough presents the player with a choice in the ending to save Kaine, who is seen to be dying in agony; Nier can either kill her to end her suffering or sacrifice his life for her. The latter choice erases all memory of him from the other characters' minds, shown in a final cutscene, and deletes all of the player's saved progress as if the game had never been played. Moreover, if the player wants to start a new game, they will be unable to enter the same name chosen for the previous playthrough for the Nier character.



Popola is a character in NIER, usually found with her twin Devola.

While her twin sister is a bard (who is a regular performer at the tavern in Nier's village), Popola is the librarian in charge of the village library. Both sisters are considered the leaders of the village and are always looking out for Nier's daughter Yonah during his frequent absences.

It is revealed when the player is in the Shadowlord's Castle that both Devola and Popola are scientists/observers for Project Gestalt. The twins are revealed to have lived for thousands of years as a result of the initial experiments of the project, and have thus been charged with keeping eye on other experiments as a result: Namely over the members of the entire party, including Yonah.

Both Devola and Popola have died in the battle agaisnt Nier. Before dying however, the twins revealed that the Sealed Verses originated from the experimentation on them both, stating that they only loaned Grimoire Weiss a fraction of their power. Thus, meaning that their magic and capabilities are far more superior to that of Grimoire Weiss.



As has been said before: don't look back. That is the last time we see the King of Facade and his men; at least during the course of this playthrough. Good luck to their lot. But, we need to continue pressing onward.

Several corridors stretch past where we battled Goose. Along the way, the game throws a ton of Health Salves (60% heal) and even a Health Potion (100% heal) at Nier in crates scattered about. It's like they're giving us a hint about what is to come...

Well, buckle up... It's time for a big ol' helping of PLOT!

Popola and Devola seem to be waiting patiently for the Nier to arrive in a derelict old world conference room. Appropriate enough a place for finding out what the hell is going on with these two...

NIER: Devola! Popola!
DEVOLA: Oh, look. You made it.
POPOLA: We've been waiting for so long.
NIER: What the hell is going on!?
DEVOLA: It began thirteen hundred years ago.
POPOLA: Humanity, finding itself on the brink of extinction, undertook a last ditch-rescue plan called Project Gestalt.
GRIMOIRE WEISS: Ges...talt...?
POPOLA: Do you still not remember, Grimoire Weiss?
DEVOLA: Then let's give you a refresher.


NIER: Weiss!
GRIMOIRE WEISS: I...I remember... Devola... Popola... You are not human. In fact... Oh, no...
DEVOLA: [chuckles] Yeah, sometimes the truth can be a real bitch. You wanna finish that thought for him, sister?
POPOLA: All of us, every person standing in this room, are mere shells created by the true humans.
NIER: You lie.
DEVOLA: Nope-not this time. You're not human. ...None of us are.
EMIL: So then humans...I mean, the true humans....they're extinct?
GRIMOIRE WEISS: No. They still live on. You know them as Shades. Each Shade is a twisted remnant of what was once a human being.
DEVOLA: Crazy, huh? Now let's skip the part where you stand there with your mouths agape and just get down to business.
NIER: Wait ... wait ...
DEVOLA: Sorry, but we're gonna be needing that shell of yours. The rightful owner has been waiting for a veeeery long time.
POPOLA: Please don't be angry with us. We are only doing our duty.
DEVOLA: Under the command of the true humans, we live eternally for the sole purpose of controlling others. That's the only reason we exist...

The twins step forward...

POPOLA: You have your own motives, your own desires...
DEVOLA: And we have ours. I fear it really is just that simple.
GRIMOIRE WEISS: Don't speak such foolish-n-n-n-ness!
DEVOLA: ...Sorry.

And next it is time for the final battle with the twins. BUUUUUUT! There is one thing that is really easy to miss when going from a big drama-bomb revelation like that straight into a big boss battle. However...

In the middle of that cutscene, just after Weiss regains his memory, Devola and Popola toss over a bunch of important documents regarding what just went down. Before we get into the huge clusterfuck of what is to come, let's take a few minutes to read and collect our thoughts... I'll leave you folks to it...


Project Gestalt Report 0923
As noted in the previous report, implementation of Gestalt mode can prevent the white chlorination syndrome we recently experienced. Transfer of bodily information to civilization-repressed Replicant is proceeding as planned, with the genes of the Originals safely stored inside.

Our role as surveillance androids to prepare for when the incurable bacterial disease eventually dies out is also underway. So far, this is proceeding without issue.

Observer: 021
Codename: Popola

Project Gestalt Report 9182
This document discusses potential strategies for the relapse case we have observed in recent years. The term "relapse," of course, refer to the catastrophic loss of sentience seen in certain Gestalt. This syndrome has defied even our most pessimistic initial estimates, and continues to trend upward with disturbing speed.

With some relapsed Gestalts beginning to attack Replicants, there is an urgent need to take comprehensive action. We remain convinced that an unknown technological defect in the Gestalt transformation process is responsible for the condition, but so far have been unable to confirm this theory.

Research of this condition is now our top priority, and looks likely to continue for some time.

Observer: 022
Codename: Devola

Project Gestalt Report 10432
Shorthand Minutes of Case 23 (Emergency Response Conference) Committee Special Meeting

Issue: Observed upward trend in relapses (noted and discussed).
Issue: Acceleration of restoration schedule (approved).
Report: Debate over using codename "Noir" for human restoration schedule.
Report: Preparations to launch "Weiss" decoding system for above.
Report: Order collection of guidance and release code for Nier alongside Weiss launch.

Observer: 021
Codename: Popola
Observer: 022
Codename: Devola

Project Gestalt Report 11242
We have determined that the rise of relapses was due to an unexpected spike in the sentience of Replicants, as well as a genetic instability within the original Gestalt (It seems the Original's effect on bodies that have undergone the Gestalt process was not anticipated in advance).

Immediate action must be undertaken to identify the links between this trend and the original Gestalt - along with its daughter, the relapsed case known as Yonah.

The Observer Contact Group is growing uneasy, so finding a solution to the relapse issue should be considered a top priority (see other reports for more details).

Observer: 021
Codename: Popola


Now that Devola and Popola have dumped just enough plot in our laps to vaguely know what's going on here, they're done fucking around. Time to throw down with the twins again. I somehow do not think they're going to drop a map, go into bubbles, and fly away into the sky again... I mean, they've got the battle version of Song of the Ancients playing and everything...

Devola takes a more a more hands on approach to battle and goes man-to-man straight down on the chamber floors for the duration of the fight. Meanwhile, Popola provides a back-up support role to her sister up on the stage.

DEVOLA: --Master!
NIER: I'm nothing like you! None of us are!

So, for the first half of this battle we're taking on the bard Devola. Huh... The protagonist's long time friend, the red-haired turncoat bard... I guess that means Devola and Popola are this game's Inuart analog, huh?

Popola has put up a defensive barrier on the boardroom stage and is invulnerable for the duration of the boss fight. The twins no longer share a life bar. We just need to take out Devola this round to progress. Works for me. Popola lends support by energizing Devola with a swirling energy ball shield and occasionally firing off some Dark Blasts if Nier lingers about for too long. But, she mostly just backs-up her sister.

Devola herself prefers Dark Hand and Dark Lances when going on the offensive. I thought she was supposed to be the friendly drunk... Personally, I fell pretty bad about taking on the twins at this point. I'm not even sure how many hours I left the game running while Devola sang and I worked on something else for a bit... I guess this is the end of those days.

Heavy attacks, like anything the with the two-handed swords or else the spear's charging attack, both work quite well as they'll knock Devola into the air. This cancels her attack and will almost always cause her to teleport to another part of the room.

Really, just running over to where she teleports, laying on the juice with the heavy offensive, and running to her next teleportation spot for another volley of ass kicking is a pretty simple way to take her down. Just so long as Nier keeps a slight bit of distance to avoid Popola's Dark Whirlwind re-ups.

A defeated singer later...

Well, that's one down... Hu...rray...? Hmph... This doesn't feel like much of a victory...

POPOLA: Devola? Devola!

Popola rushes over to her sister's side...

DEVOLA: Ughhhh... Aaahhh...
DEVOLA: H-hey, Popola... You crying?
POPOLA: No! Don't die!
DEVOLA: You know, I understand now why we're twins. It's because....because we were born without souls.
POPOLA: Devola. I can't stop the bleeding. Oh god. I can't stop it!
DEVOLA: This world is too lonely for one without a soul. There's too much...emptiness.
DEVOLA: Our souls are missing, but our tears still work. That's kinda weird. Sorry, Sis. ...I love you.

Devola goes limp and passes away...

POPOLA: Devola? Devola! Don't you go! No! No, I can't be alone!

Well...this is pretty shitty... Nier decided to try to reason with Popola to stop any more bloodshed.

POPOLA: [sobbing]
NIER: Popola, let's stop this now.
POPOLA: Stop? Stop? You want me to stop? You think I have the luxury to stop? You cut down my sister like an animal and you tell me to STOP!?

Popola grabs her weapon and climbs to her feet...

EMIL: Popola, wait! It doesn't have to--

Welp, we just landed #1 on Popola's grief crazed shitlist. Now she's hell bent on doing everything possible to murder the shit out of Nier for offing her sister and only companion for the last millennium. Terrific.

NIER: Popola ... We've been friends for so long ... Does that mean nothing to you?
GRIMOIRE WEISS: Those two have watched the world wither for time immemorial. The cruelness of such a fate is difficult to imagine.
NIER: I don't want to do this. I don't want to fight Popola!
KAINE: Stop whining and start fighting! It's the only way!

There isn't really much of a "fight" against Popola to speak of, to be honest... She just flips the fuck out and blasts a chaotic endless stream of energy balls all across the room. And she barely has any health to begin with. Apparently that shared life bar in the first fight was three-quarters Devola and a quarter Popola. As such, she goes down extremely quickly to Nier's blade.

POPOLA: De-Devola! Noo!
POPOLA: No stopping! No stopping ever!

Popola explodes in a burst of energy. Not in the "Mega Man robot master" explodes sense. No...more in the "you remember how Emil nuked The Aerie a few weeks ago..." kind of way...

The explosion of power takes out the nearby bridge leading further into the Shadowlord's "Castle". That is...probably not good... Not good at all... Most definitively bad.

NIER: The bridge!
GRIMOIRE WEISS: Blast! We're t-t-t-t-trapped!
EMIL: I've got an idea!

Emil recalls that silly bubble escape Popola and Devola made during their first battle and decides he's a badass mage and can totally pull that shit off too. Emil is the best.

However, as his magic bubble lifts the group up into the sky, a blast of dark energy shoots up and ensnares it.

POPOLA: Heh... Ahahahahahaha!!! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
GRIMOIRE WEISS: I fear we're done for!
EMIL: .....
EMIL: It'll be all right!
EMIL: You know...when I was young. I...I hated my eyes. And now that I'm older, I hate what my body has become. But there's something else there now. Something like...pride. You know? I mean, without all this... I couldn't have become your friend.
EMIL: Good-bye, my friends! Thank you for everything!
NIER: Emil?
EMIL: For so long, all I could do was destroy. But now, I have a chance to save something...

Emil dives out of the bubble shield...

EMIL: Keep going! Move!
EMIL: Don't worry! I'm gonna be fine!

Emil shoots off one last magic glyph to push the bubble with his friends off to safety as he's drawn into the mass of dark energy Popola seems to have created.

KAINE: Emil, you jackass, get back here! ... EMIL!

Emil floats into the dark energy.

EMIL: ...Oh, dear.
EMIL: Kaine's so unstable, and Weiss can't stop arguing with people. I hope they can hold it together once I'm gone.
EMIL: Well, I guess they'll just have to learn.
EMIL: Kaine ... I ...
EMIL: I want to see you again. I want to see all of you again. ...Just one more...time.
EMIL: I'm ... scared. I don't want to ... die ...

After the explosion, a little tiny bit of Emil's shield floats down to the crater below...And disappears forever when it touches the ground.

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