Nier is first and foremost an action RPG. It looks like one, controls like one, and plays like one. Fighting enemies is in real time, but still based on statistics you can level up. But at times Nier makes slight changes to feel like a different style of game, while retaining all of its usual action-rpg systems.
Most often this is done through a perspective shift. By locking the camera in an overhead view, it can feel like a top down hack and slash game like Gauntlet. With that same overhead view it can also become a box slide puzzle. Another time it will lock your character in place and bombard you with bullets. Because you can’t run up and hit enemies with your sword, you must rely on your ranged attacks. In these moments Nier becomes an on-rails scrolling shooter.
The game also often locks to a side view, usually when you enter a building. But occasionally this side scrolling view holds and makes you jump over pits and obstacles, becoming a platformer for a moment.
One of the more interesting areas is the old mansion. In here the camera angles are locked to a particular room, with cinematic angles. This is intentional callback toto Resident Evil, giving Nier a survival horror vibe for this area. Later in the game you find the basement laboratory which locks the camera to a rotating isometric view. This view makes Nier feel more like a computer RPG like Diablo or Neverwinter nights.
Each of these twists on gameplay all retain the same basic slash/shoot gameplay, but are given a new context by altered camera views and slightly altered controls. What I love about these twists is how simple they are, there are no prompts to tell you about new controls or what details as to what has changed, you pick it up intuitively.