Nier: Automata, the mind-bending roleplaying game from legendary Japanese director Yoko Taro, has one last magnificent secret, discovered nearly four years after the game’s release. The secret, a cheat code you can input in the game’s intro sequence to skip to the very end of the game, was unearthed by modder Lance McDonald, who said he spent hundreds of hours reverse-engineering Nier: Automata to come across this ultra-rare find.
For those interested, the cheat is a relatively simple button sequence you must input while positioning main character 2B between a set of barrels during the game’s very first boss fight, something no player would think to do unless they dug deep into the game’s code. Without spoiling much about the game’s rather unorthodox storytelling structure, this cheat will send you all the way to the post-credits sequence and unlock chapter select, a feat that normally takes tens of hours of gameplay.
According to McDonald, he only sought to find the cheat code after he was teased by Taro two years ago:
Ok Here it is! After being teased by the game's director @yokotaro two years ago, I discovered the "Final secret" in NieR Automata. Please take a moment to watch and retweet, as it was a monumental task. Also please enjoy the familiar cameo in the intro: https://t.co/XwhqDN5RmU pic.twitter.com/TfIMcHmriQ— Lance McDonald (@manfightdragon) January 4, 2021
Taro confirmed the cheat code was intentional and, as McDonald suggested, “hard-coded into the engine,” with a sly tweet referencing the amount of time it took the mod and secret-hunting communities to uncover it. He also included a characteristically inexplicable “（◎血◎）” symbol, perhaps to express his surprise that someone actually went through the effort to find it.
Beyond its deserved reputation as one of the most narratively complex and challenging stories ever told in video game format, Nier: Automata is also filled with scores of Easter eggs, meta commentary, and coy tricks played on the player. So it’s characteristic of Taro and his colleagues at developer Platinum to have thought to put something like this in the game, fully intending no one to ever find it.
But of course, a game as off-the-wall as Nier has, in turn, inspired a fan base obsessed with everything it has to offer. So perhaps it was only a matter of time before someone like McDonald put the time and effort in to find this game-winning cheat code.