Nier Automata’s secret church mystery continues to spiral out of control, with new videos raising more questions than they answer, and the game’s community expanding as furiously as it implodes.
What started as a possible easter egg has turned into a wild goose chase involving countless modders, masterminds and intrigued newcomers. A single inexplicable room has given the Nier community a sense of excitement normally reserved for new games. Let’s bring you up to speed on this weird, wild saga.
The History of the Secret Church
this_is_the_church_area_that_I_talked_about from r/NieRAutomataGame
This tumultuous saga is the work of Reddit user sadfutago, who first wrote about the mysterious Nier Automata Church on June 10, the same day their Reddit account was created.
“Hi, I’m new to Reddit and want to know how to open the church in Nier Automata,” they said in a brief mail (opens in a new tab) on the Nier fanart subreddit, which has now been flooded with disbelieving comments. The same day, they asked (opens in a new tab) The Nier Automata game subreddit the same question and the community was understandably confused because no one knew of such a church.
Four days later, sadfutago shared (opens in a new tab) two screenshots taken inside the church they described – or rather, taken off the screen, apparently with a phone. They said they entered the church via a door in the duplicate city after the boss fight with Adam, but noted that their friend was unable to recreate this in their game. This post was originally deleted by the Nier Automata subreddit’s automod (it has now been restored), but on June 15th it was also posted (opens in a new tab) to the larger mainline Nier subreddit, which is when the mystery really took off.
Nier fans were immediately confused, in no small part because back in January 2021, Nier Automata director Yoko Taro personally confirmed that the game’s final secret, a true-blue cheat code, had been found.
On June 18, sadfutago followed up with a short video of A2, one of Nier Automata’s many playable protagonists, heading to the hidden door they had described. The video was apparently filmed with a phone, and the footage ended just as the door opened, raising some red flags among curious onlookers.
hi_here_is_the_video_of_the_path_to_the_church from r/nier
As fans debated whether there was anything to this discovery, sadfutago disappeared for about a month. Out of nowhere on July 25 – one day after creating a profile mail (opens in a new tab) claimed they had forgotten their Reddit password and wanted to reset it – sadfutago shared a new, longer video of the alleged secret.
hi_here_is_the_video_for_the_clip_in_recorded from r/nier
This time they showed A2 going through the hidden door and down a massive shifting corridor – but again, no church. Lance McDonald, a well-known PlayStation geek and the player who discovered the aforementioned Nier Automata cheat, shared this video on Twitter (opens in a new tab)and has since received over three million views from that tweet alone.
McDonald’s involvement gave it all a thicker air of mystery. He was quick to note that “it’s not yet possible to mod Nier Automata like this, in case anyone is curious if this is fake,” and with that, the fuse was lit. Sadfutago was just dancing around the hornet’s nest before, but with this video they’ve officially kicked it.
And on July 26, sadfutago posted another, longer video that finally took us inside the church.
hi_I_get_lots_of_messages_and_I_can_not_read_them from r/nier
Opening the door connected to the church appears to be a scripted event, as it triggers a short, black-bar cutscene showing off the interior. At the heart of the church, a warped cursed figure prays to an alabaster corpse with a white lily sprouting from its chest – a motif familiar to Nier fans that could easily pass for a Nier Replicant Easter Egg. The video continues, but apparently there is nothing else important inside the church apart from an oddly placed treasure chest, and this becomes much more important in sadfutago’s last post.
i_think_my_game_has_a_gliitch_siden_jeg_beholder_going from r/nier
On July 28, sadfutago posted two new videos within hours of each other. The first video (opens in a new tab) introduces a blocky boss fight triggered by 9S – not A2 this time – hacking the curious treasure chest, and the second, longer video shows sadfutago defeating this boss and interacting with a statue at the back of the church hall. This birdbath-like fixture asks three questions straight from the last chapter of Nier Replicant – in Japanese, for some reason, even though sadfutago’s game is in English.
This boss and the sealed text log it apparently guards can be found elsewhere in Automata, but this video seems to draw yet another connection to the events of Replicant. Players are now hoping to see footage of sadfutago answering all three of the statue’s questions correctly, based on the assumption that the answers are the same as they were in Replicant.
A limited developer response
Nier fans have been divided over the legitimacy of this secret church since June, and because no one has been able to find or access this area on their own, many modders are convinced it’s some kind of elaborate hoax.
The hopefuls believe that this is a proper ARG campaign leading to a new announcement for Nier or Drakengard, the series that served as an incubator of sorts for Nier’s dramatic stories. Some believe that this is all a marketing stunt meant to drum up interest before the Nintendo Switch version of Nier Automata launches on October 6th.
Others believe it’s a prank orchestrated by Nier series director Yoko Taro. Nier Automata producer Yosuke Saito joked about this possibility in a chirping (opens in a new tab) turns to the mysterious church after the story spread to Japanese outlet Automatic (opens in a new tab)but not surprisingly, Taro himself only has broke his usual silence (opens in a new tab) to confirm that he cannot comment on the situation – and to add that he loves beer and sausages (opens in a new tab).
I reached out to publisher Square Enix to see if they had any thoughts on the situation. A representative told me that “unfortunately, we will not be able to comment,” and they did not elaborate beyond that. I have also contacted sadfutago directly but have not heard back.
Nier Automata experts weigh in
With sadfutago MIA and no official details to go on, Nier fans began digging through the game’s assets and re-examining what they know about the mod scene. Some were quick to share a noclip tool on NexusMods (opens in a new tab) specifically designed to break through the replica city’s walls in search of the secret church, but the uploader says they found nothing. Reddit scouts pointed out that Nier Automata often only loads specific assets when the player triggers something in the world, which would support the theory that this church is the result of an incredibly rare interaction hidden somewhere in the game, but that has been largely debunked .
More recently, a full refutation (opens in a new tab) until sadfutago’s claims were shared on Reddit, led by a modder named Meowsandstuff. In addition to comparisons to Nier Replicant assets, they claim that differences in ambient lighting and occlusion between sadfutago’s videos show that the secret area is not only fan-made and running on PC (not PS4 as claimed), but that it also was updated. and reproduced between sadfutago’s posts.
“Whether it’s a mod made with official dev tools/SDK or custom tool is not yet 100% confirmed,” the document says, “although the latter is likely, given specific details like the church cutscene’s lack of interpolation for the camera movement. and camera cuts ( note that there is a slight shake for several shots when a camera cut occurs in the new cutscene). The voice lines are also recycled from an earlier point in the game. Either way, this is clearly the work of a very talented, experienced person.”
An early theory suggested that sadfutago had somehow obtained a pre-release build of the game that included content that may have been cut or banned in a launch update. However, after scanning the earliest archived builds of Nier Automata, modders have largely moved away from this theory. The “sadfutago debunked” followers are therefore operating under the assumption that this is all a mod that was seemingly removed from the game’s mainstream mod scene. It’s not an airtight explanation, but it does have some compelling evidence behind the claims.
Others like Redditor _emoose_ have pointed to (opens in a new tab) unused assets discovered in a datamined beta version of the Copied City map, which may explain some of sadfutago’s shots. This does not match the church interior shown in the videos, but the surrounding buildings visible through the windows of this mysterious church are consistent with archived assets (opens in a new tab)including a building model believed to have originated in Bayonetta 2, which developer Platinum Games released three years before Nier Automata.
This could leave the door open for a mod grafted to an unused level, but it could also bring the mindset back to the realm of an easter egg. However, the working theory at this point is that nothing less than modded content can explain this secret because many of the church’s assets cannot be found in any known version of Nier Automata.
To help get to the bottom of things, we spoke to three top Nier modders who are working to recreate this mysterious church for themselves.
Who is sadfutago?
A non-trivial part of this entire investigative process has focused on sadfutago instead of the photos and videos they’ve shared. Their internet presence is limited and may fit the profile of a running troll, but if they’re just trolling, the stakes go far beyond the usual red herrings and jokes. Some even believe they are a robot designed to wreak havoc.
Even their username, which translates to “sad twins,” perhaps in reference to Nier’s iconic red-haired Devola and Popola, has come into question. However, they say it’s a simple reference to a “clan”, presumably either a game clan they made with their friends or a clan in another game or series.
Sadfutago was verified on the Nier modding Discord in the midst of all this chaos, and while they have yet to share a new video of this alleged secret area, they have been quite forthcoming with small details. When asked how they opened the secret door the first time, they said, “I don’t know I was killing robots with my friend to level up and then it said I could open the door. I thought it was an item. ”
Many users have mentioned sadfutago’s terse and sometimes derogatory use of words, but based on a gallery (opens in a new tab) of photos they shared on Discord when asked about their Nier Automata cover and disc, their native language is French, which would explain the perceived language barrier.
Sadfutago’s Discord comments also match their Reddit comment history, which is important to note because there have already been confirmed duplicates. Redditor Alexray35 spotted (opens in a new tab) a recent NexusMod project shared by someone with the same username, but it was quickly deleted after fans decided it was an ARG smokescreen looking to hijack the community’s hype.
What do we know for sure?
This is one of the strangest moments in the long, strange history of the Nier community, and we’re still desperate for more information at this point. Everyone is constantly waiting for sadfutago’s next video with bated breath. All we know is that someone apparently created a secret area in Nier Automata, no one has been able to replicate or completely disprove it, and even the game’s developer and publisher won’t talk openly about it. If this turns out to just be Yoko Taro in a trench coat hyping up an announcement, give the man the budget for whatever game he wants to make.