NieR Replicant Lore refers to the World Building, Story, and Setting of the game. NieR Replicant is set in a faraway dystopian future full of Shades after the initial collapse of humankind. The tale of NieR Replicant has a convoluted storyline, that reveals multiple perspectives and endings with every playthrough.
In a distant, distant future, humanity is on the brink of extinction.
A black scrawl disease and strange beasts threaten the world.
A young kindhearted boy makes a promise to his little sister.
A thousand-year lie that would live on for eternity...
Summer 2053 - Prologue
46 years after chaos fell upon the human world. The human world is facing extinction and the prologue takes place in a run-down building in the middle of a snowstorm in Shinjuku, Tokyo during a lockdown. Two survivors, a brother and his ill sister, are trapped and the building is surrounded by Shades. They have nothing but the temptation of the magic book with them. It offers the boy the power to save his sister in exchange of his soul. He has no choice but to turn to the power of the black book. With the power of the book, he clears the Shades with ease and returns to the back of the building to tend to his sister only to witness her be overcome with the black magic of the book herself.
1,312 Years Later
Many years, later and the story seems to pick up with the same brother-sister duo in a less dire setting. His sister is still ill and his main objective is to find a cure and give her a better life. NieR's regular day consists of doing chores around their Village in order to earn gold and support his sister Yonah and himself. They will soon find out that the illness that has afflicted her is the fatal Black Scrawl disease.
NieR Replicant Lore
Our world is dying. Once thriving populations now lie decimated by plague and disease.
...The end has never felt so close.
And if that wasn't enough, monsters called Shades now roam the land, threatening our very lives.
But that's of no consequence to me.
My sister is sick, and my only concern is to give her a better life.
I try my best, but I'm only one man and a hard one at that.
So the kindness of the villagers has meant much.
Nothing will stop me. I will fight for Yonah until the end.
...Until the very end.
The world of NieR Replicant is a tumultuous era where the earth is getting more and more overrun by Shades, and the fatal Black Scrawl disease is sweeping the land. The protagonist and his family are no exception. When NieR's sister Yonah becomes afflicted with the Black Scrawl disease his main objective was to find her a cure.
NieR puts all his faith in the words of an ancient song. "Song of the Ancients." Once NieR discovered Grimoire Weiss, it gave him no reason to believe that Sealed Verses did not exist, and was determined to find them. Legend has it that the white book, Grimoire Weiss and the Sealed Verses have the ability to reverse the chaos of the black book, Grimoire Noir. Determined that the black book is also the root of the Black Scrawl and with Grimoire Weiss now already by his side, his main quest is now to obtain all the Sealed Verses in order to reverse the Black Scrawl and cure Yonah.
When the great black book, Grimoire Noir, plunges the world into chaos...
The white book, Grimoire Weiss, will appear with his Sealed Verses.
He will then vanquish Grimoire Noir and restore harmony to the world.
...Or so the legend goes.
-Popola, Song of the Ancients
Project Gestalt was the separation of human souls from their human bodies with the intention to restore them back into a new Replicant body. The project was launched when humans faced extinction and the earth was plagued with a lethal disease. The only way humans could survive was to temporarily live through it as Gestalts.
Shades, also known as Gestalts, are the true humans in NieR Replicant. Each Shade is a twisted remnant of what was once a human being. They are the separated souls without vessels that underwent a process from Project Gestalt. The process was a necessary solution in order to preserve the human souls as they were going extinct and dying off. The shell-less transition was intended to be temporary. Replicant bodies were created so that eventually the vessel-less souls could re-enter into a human body and live normally once again once there was no longer a threat. However, the process was complicated when the Replicants gained a consciousness of their own, and Shades were soon left without their vessels.
The lost souls without a Replicant's shell would eventually relapse and evolve into the hostile monsters, they now call Shades.
"Relapse" refers to the catastrophic loss of sentience as seen in certain Gestalts.
Relapsed Shades then began to attack Replicants. They determined that the rise of relapses was due to an unexpected spike in the sentience of Replicants, as well as genetic instability within the original Gestalt. Fully relapsed Shades would no longer retain extractable data, and the Replicant process cannot be recreated once they have reached this stage.
Replicants are the created shells that were created under Project Gestalt to save the human race. Each replicant was created with the same likeness as its human counterpart with the data extracted from a person's Gestalt, or Shade.
Project Gestalt was launched when humans were facing extinction and the world was unlivable for humans. The project allowed them to live on as Shades instead. The objective was to return the shades back to their human state when the threats of the earth have diminished, and replicant bodies were created to make that possible.
Unfortunately, the data that was used to create each Replicant had mostly managed to create a copy of the Gestalt in human form, developing their own consciousness and living on as the human. They believed themselves to be the real original humans. As more Replicants grew sentient, more shades were left without vessels, causing more of them to relapse. Most Replicants came to believe that all Shades were just monsters and evil beings that only cause chaos and destruction. Most probably were not even aware of their human past.
Not much was known about the Black Scrawl, except that it caused a person to feel very ill and usually eventually resulted in death. It is identified by the creeping black marks and rune symbols that appeared all over the victim's body. Despite the belief that the Black Scrawl was a fatal disease, it was actually a malfunction in a Replicant body when their corresponding Gestalt was beginning to relapse. These were the effects that the Protagonist, NieR's sister, Yonah, underwent.
Prequel - Events in Drakengard
2049 - Prologue
- 2049 - NieR Replicant Prologue - Humans are dying, many have undergone the Project Gestalt process but they are experiencing a spike in relapses. NieR, had accepted the power of the book in order to protect his sister
- NieR had undergone the Project Gestalt process himself and he was deemed the Shadowlord, all sentient Shades were now bound to him in order to reduce the cases of relapsing Gestalts
3365 - 1,312 Years later
- Replicants live on with the existing Shades, but the Black Scrawl is beginning to take over and Shades are still relapsing and becoming hostile
- NieR meets Grimoire Weiss and learns of the Sealed Verses. He makes it a goal to retrieve them to reverse the effects of the black book
- NieR meets Kainé, and then Emil and completes all eight of the Sealed Verses
- Yonah is kidnapped by the Shadowlord
3370 - 5 years later
- The Village is wearing down, resources are getting low and the Shades are more abundant and stronger, but NieR learns of the Shadowlord's whereabouts- the Shadowlord's Castle and the Key Fragments to access it.
- NieR tracks down the Keys and opens the portal to the Castle. Devola & Popola reveal themselves to be Andoirds that work for the humans. They stand in his way but manages to pass them
- Shadowlords Chamber - NieR meets Yonah again, but she is possessed and no longer herself. The Shade possessing her willingly returns her body to her.
- NieR defeats the Shadowlord and now sentient Shades will undergo a relapse
Sequel - NieR Automata
The Shadowlord appears as the shadow copy of NieR. And just like NieR, his objective is to save his sister and give her a better life. As it turns out, the Shadowlord is the NieR featured in the Prologue in the game and is the original human NieR, with the NieR we come to know being but a Replicant. Since the time skip, he also underwent the Project Gestalt process and became a Shade. The Shadowlord is the first Shade to undergo Project Gestalt and retain his full sentience.
The organization behind Project Gestalt wanted to use this data to replicate the success of his case and stabilize other Gestalts in the same way. Their solution was to directly link all the Gestalts to the Shadowlord's soul, so all sentient Shades were somehow bound to him. This would mean that in the event of his death, all sentient Shades bound to him would relapse.
Because of his service to their project, they helped him put Yonah's Gestalt into hibernation until her Replicant vessel was ready for her fusion. Unfortunately, the hibernation process was not fully successful and her relapse was soon coming. In the Shadowlord's desperation, he kidnaps the Replicant Yonah so her body can be used and given to his own sister.
NieR Replicant's new goal was to locate and return his sister safely. Thus begins the premise of Act II in the game.
Yonah is NieR's sister afflicted with the Black Scrawl disease, which we now know is the effect of her counterpart Gestalt entering a relapse phase. The Shadowlord kidnaps the Replicant Yonah in order to cease the relapse and speed up the fusion process with her body.
The next time we see Yonah in Act II, she is no longer the same NieR was expecting, but the result of a successful fusion. She interrupts the battle between NieR and the Shadowlord to give up her body to the second replicant soul because she feels she loves her brother as much as herself.
The Replicant consciousness soon returns and she is reunited with her brother.
A tome that has slumbered for ages and can miraculously speak the human language. He seems to know everything there is to know about this world, but he has a silly side, which makes his gruff, often condescending persona more tolerable. It seems he has lost part of his memory, so his true identity is unknown.
Grimoire Weiss, though he appears as just a book, seems to have a consciousness of his own. His introduction to the game shows off his witty, sarcastic and clever personality as he boasts his wisdom and power with his incessant remarks early on. He claims that his very name brings kingdoms to their knees. It does ring true since his Sealed Verses each hold great powerful magic.
However, despite his inanimate appearance, he was once a young man part of the Hamelin Organization, and he took part in extensive military training. All the Grimoires had started out as children according to the novella from Grimoire NieR called "And Then There Were None." He and many children around the world were used for experiments to give them special abilities. Each child had a book they could not seem to open until one book had opened up on its own. A bright light and giant hand came up and took the boy in its pages.
They were informed through some mysterious voices that they were given these books as tools to battle each other to the death, and only two were to survive. When the last three remaining were left, their books opened up and started to glow as well. They realized they were to survive, but not be set free. The writer had witnessed another child get sucked in by his book, this time embedded with a resemblance of his face on the book cover. The last two surviving children were believed to become Grimoire Rubrum, Grimoire Noir, and Grimoire Weiss.
The Grimoires were actually created to oversee the Project Gestalt process and make sure it is fulfilled, but Grimoire Weiss has no recollection of this purpose and maintains his loyalty to his newly made friends.
Devola & Popola
Twin sisters who live in the protagonist's village. They are close confidants of the protagonist and his sister. Popola is the head librarian of the village library and is reserved and calm. She speaks politely and is kind, but she has a strong sense of self. Her sister, Devola, is very animated and loves to sing; she can often be found near the fountain in the village, singing." --Square Enix official description
Devola a Popola are the acting leaders of NieR's village leading seemingly normal lives but are revealed to both be androids that exist to overlook the ongoing progress of Project Gestalt and ensure its success. They were created over a thousand years before, since the human race had been on the brink of extinction and the project began. They live to serve the original humans and are tasked with the responsibility to ensure the replicant shells are returned to their rightful human, or Shade owners.
They stood in the way of NieR, and despite their history and friendship, attack him so that they may retrieve his Replicant body and return it to the Shadowlord, the real human NieR.
A fierce warrior whose left half of her body is possessed by a Shade. As she was harassed for being intersex, and in order to prevent further possession by the Shade who is weak against sunlight, Kainé chose clothing that exposes her skin. Despite her looks, her vocabulary and attitude are brash and violent; she's crude and eats a lot. She wields dual swords, and eviscerates any Shades that get in her way.
Kainé was born in The Aerie, she was not born half Shade half-human. She came home one way to find Hook, the giant reptilian Shade, attacking her grandmother at home. Kainé was mutilated while intervening, and her grandmother died in the process- Causing her desire to hunt him and all Shades down. Shade Tyrann saves her life by fusing with her, replacing her missing limbs with his Shade parts, making her half-Shade.
Upon hearing some of the things the villagers of the Aerie have to say, NieR finds out she is an outcast because of her half-Shade characteristic, which is why she chooses to stay in the deserted tent at the outskirts of the Aerie by herself devoting her life to seeking vengeance for her grandmother. Her full backstory can be found unlocked in the second playthrough of the game in Kainé's Dreams.
A boy who lives with his butler in a manor. He is gentle and calm, but has a mysterious power that turns everyone he sees into stone. Emil is guilt-ridden by this power, and wishes to be able to one day see the world with his own eyes without turning those around him into stone. He senses a special friendship with the protagonist, who accepts Emil and his special powers. However, he is a bit dense at times when it comes to other people's feelings.
Emil was once a normal young boy without powers until he was used as part of an experiment in the Snow White Plans. The experiment uses magic to turn people into weapons. He recalls the creation of the perfect weapon, "Number 6" until it was deemed a failure because they had lost control of it. Another weapon, Number 7, was created to petrify Number 6 and seal it away. Emil was Number 7, and Number 6 was his sister, Halua.
After their encounter with Halua, Emil fuses with her, undergoing the same bestial transformation she went through, which changes his physical appearance for the rest of the game. Despite his new look, he gains the ability to control his powers and reverse the petrification of people.