"But what is 'beauty'?
After researching the old world, I finally learned the truth.
Beauty is pretty skin.
Beauty is stylish accessories.
Beauty is looking one's best."
A lot happens in the 30 hours I spent exploring the rest of Nier after the first ending, in which the game carefully uses your first experience with the story to methodically pull back the layers of misinterpretation. There are countless holy shit moments, for sure, but what's stayed with me for days, the reason I'm writing this article, is the decision laid in front of you at the very end.
"I gaze into the mirror. In its reflection, I see only my own meaningless. And so I scream."
If you choose yes, the game cuts to a bullet hell sequence where you must defeat the game's credit sequence. It starts out simple enough, but a few minutes in, it's clear you'll be unable to make it any further. Death comes fast, furious, and repeatedly. "Do you feel hopeless?" the game asks, as you are given a choice on whether or not to continue. "Do you accept defeat?"While you make these decisions, curious statements float in the background, many of which sound like they're cheering players on. "I did my best. One thing is certain: I'm rooting for you." "I've walked the same road as you. Then you've got us with you." Each has a name attached.
Pod 042: "You hoped they would survive as well, didn't you?"
Pod 153: "We lack the authority for such an action. The rules are protected by low-level systems. Salvaging data poses an unacceptable level of risk. Knowing that, do you still wish for them to survive?"
"None of us in this world are loved. This world has no need for us. There is only one solution."