This is a spoiler free review of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim and will feature no story arcs spoilers in any way.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim plays a rather impressive juggling act, bouncing you between the 13 playable characters, but not once has it dropped the ball. As you delve more into these incredibly well designed characters, you uncover more of the proverbial web that links them all together. Along with the incredible, and well thought out story, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim separated itself from just being a graphic novel with its rather stella grid based mech combat. I mean who doesn’t enjoy smearing some Kaijuu’s face down the side of a Tokyo skyscraper while being naked in a kick ass mech?
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim does a great job of introducing new characters to the player and setting the foundation of what makes them tick from the get go. Even in the early stages of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim though, you know there is something fishy going on, and that’s not just the local sushi bar. More on that later.
As you take control of one of the 13 playable characters, you guide them around a beautifully drawn 2D environment. As you talk to your peers new information is given to the player that they can lament on for even more information. This is handled so well throughout the story. The game starts off nicely though with some inner dialogue about your school fiends, but as more threads get added you can link these to delve deeper or ask questions to try and understand the world around you a little better. The game doesn’t hold your hand though and instead relies on the player to work out what to do in each scenario. This could be as simple as linking two thoughts together to ask the correct question to progress, or interacting with a certain object etc. All of it though is easy enough and with very little play time, you’ll get the hang of what the game wants you to do.
As mentioned above though you know there’s something fishy going on from the beginning. With characters saying or discovering more and more about what’s happening and what links them to giant mechs decades in the future. Story lines and characters range from the end of WW2 up to a school in the 80’s. 13 Sentinels: Aigis Rim does a great job of bringing all these characters together though.
The other side to 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is the Mech based combat. This is more of a side activity personally, because I loved the characters and story so much, but it’s a fantastic side activity. I could easily take a full game with this style of real time grid based strategy from Vanillaware. In combat you move your Mechs around in a grid style battle field to defend against oncoming Kaijuu. Sometimes you’ll have certain objectives to defend or attack, but the variety of weapons available to the mechs make it more strategic than just chagrin head on. You have to make great use of all your options. For example long range missiles with a huge blast radius to clear out a swarm far away, or getting in there and punching some Kaijuu’s head off, it’s up to you.
The only downside to these battles is the way it’s displayed. Where the story has these incredibly well drawn backgrounds and incredible looking characters, the battles leave a lot to be desired and mainly just come down to some Atari lookin blocks on the screen. For this reason the battles are more of a side mission there to propel the story along. Don’t get me wrong, they are incredibly fun and some are a challenge, but they are not the main driving point here.
Characters And Voice
Thanks to the incredible people over at Atlus & Indigo Pearl, I’ve been playing 13 Sentian’s: Aegis Rim for the past week or so. Because of that, the day one patch for the English voices isn’t available just yet. That doesn’t bother me though as I study Japanese and found it great practice. I thought it best to mention that I haven’t sampled the English voice acting, therefore can’t pass judgment on it. If you want to play 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim with its original Japanese voice cast though, then I definitely recommend it. It’s incredibly well voiced and every character sounds great. There is no stereotypical annoying voice here, they are all well recorded and greatly acted.
As for the characters themselves, they are some of the best in any JRPG around, right up there with the Persona cast. Each individual has a great design and background that really draws the player towards them. You may find yourself falling in love with the tough hardy rogue Hjitama and his love for some Yakisoba Pan. Or maybe you’ll draw similarities to Juro and his love of Kajuu films. Each of the 13 characters has their unique charms and the way the story brings them all together makes for some great moments.
If you love Japanese characters and great storytelling than 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is for you.
For me this is right up there with Persona or FInal Fantasy in the way its cast of characters draw you in. Their incredible and well fleshed out stories will keep you hooked for the 30 hours or so 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim takes to beat. It’s not just a stella graphic novel though, the addition or a really fun strategy game element fleshes out the game even more.
13 Sentinel’s: Aegis Rim is up there with the best game from Japan this decade.