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Nier: Automata demo has one of the year’s most shocking endings

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And it’s only a demo!

PlatinumGames/Square Enix

A demo for Nier: Automata went live on the PlayStation Store just before Christmas, and many players have found it to be a good time. That is, except for the final moments, which end on a stunning and surprising note.

(Here’s a spoiler warning for you, in case you’ve yet to try the demo for yourself.)

Nier: Automata’s demo takes place at the beginning of the game, comprising a full level from early in the story. Set in a war-torn, post-apocalyptic world, the game follows a female-presenting combat android named 2B. She’s joined by the masculine 9S, who fights alongside her against the gigantic machines that are ravaging the abandoned Earth.

Since the full trial runs about 30 minutes long on average, the majority of that story remains obscure. Instead, players spend most of their time testing out combat and checking out 2B’s swift, stylish movements:

But there’s a boss battle at the very end, in which 2B takes on a gigantic killing machine, and it looks like an unfair fight until a cutscene interrupts the action. 9S appears, knocking out the enemy robot as to spare his friend. Except, well ... turns out there was more where that opponent came from.

Watch the cutscene below for the emotionally charged moment that follows.

Some players, shocked by this turn of events, have begun to hypothesize about what this must mean for 2B and 9S in the full game.

“It's nothing more than a training simulation on the Bunker,” one Redditor suggested. “We know that all YoRHa androids [the type that 2B and 9S are] before they are deployed on a mission must undergo extensive training in a sort of holodeck area on the Bunker. ... This is a huge thing for them to ‘learn’ as their individual lives mean nothing... but the data that is gathered after their deaths is what's important. The fact that they are willing to accept this is like a passing grade on a test: They are ready for actual combat.”

This is just a theory, but it’s doubtful that the androids both perish in a blaze of glory. We know that 2B is at least one of the playable characters in Nier: Automata, and she figures heavily into the game’s marketing and pre-release material. If she kicks the bucket before the end of the first hour, we’d be surprised.

The dramatic conclusion to what’s just a teaser for the full game is in keeping with writer-director Yoko Taro’s style, however. The eccentric industry veteran is known for his downer endings, twist-filled plots and love for confusing the player. The original Nier had several endings, many of which were even more shocking than the one in its sequel’s demo.

Anyone who’s already fallen in love with 2B should know that Taro considers the ending of Nier: Automata to be a “happy” one. Whether that’s relative to the majorly depressing Nier is anyone’s guess; we’ll know more in early 2017, when the game hits PlayStation 4 and Windows PC.