previewed on PSP
The future of Manhattan is not bright
Think horror, guns, tentacles, body swapping, a futuristic setting and monsters exploding to bits and you will get an idea of what Square Enix has in store for us. Their upcoming sequel to the Parasite Eve series called The 3rd Birthday is, in their words, a ‘cinematic action RPG.’ Square Enix is a name well-known amongst RPG fans, as they are the proud authors of numerous popular franchises including the Final Fantasy series, the Dragon Quest series and the Kingdom Hearts series. The Parasite Eve games were based on a horror novel by Hidaeki Sena, which followed the heroine called Aya Brea fighting various monsters.
Parasite Eve series usually refers to the book which was the basis for other creations, like the 1997 movie adaptation of Parasite Eve released in Japan, as well as the three video games. After catching a glimpse of the game through the trailer and a short playable demo, we can witness ourselves what a visually appealing experience this game might prove to be with its smooth gameplay and numerous special effects. The original two games were regarded as a genre merge between a RPG and a survival horror; the last sequel also has elements of RPG, as well as a first person shooter in it.
Aya Brea and ‘Overdive’, humanity’s only hope
The plot follows the protagonist Aya Brea fighting mutated monsters as they threaten to wipe out the human race. Aya looks like a 25-year-old due to advanced mitochondria, but is actually in her late thirties, which represents an innovation in the gaming world usually featuring younger heroines. The action starts on December 24th, 2012, when the attack of mutated monsters known as the ‘Twisted’ begins. These creatures are, according to the trailer, ‘rapidly propagating life-forms of unknown origin’ that not only kill people but also ‘send time spiraling in reverse.’
An investigative team called CTI is formed to deal with the monsters. Aya Brea is a special agent who proves to be the only one suitable for the ‘Overdive System’, making her a vital element in humanity’s battle for survival. The ‘Overdive’ enables her to travel through time and swap bodies with her team members, a crucial strategic move which helps her battle her enemies. It is also interesting to note that Aya can also swap bodies with her enemies when they are about to die and make them implode.
The demo allows us to play Episode One: The Past, where Aya is in a dance club before the attack. Once the club is cleared, we can fight a huge creature also seen in the trailer, which looks like a huge piranha with tentacles and explosives. You can shield from this creature using barricades, and thus also buy time needed to heal in case you are injured. No aiming is required since you can lock onto your enemies, making it quite hard to miss. This is why this game cannot be deemed as a shooter only, since you do not need any special aiming skills to press the ‘R’ button and lock on. The demo also enables us to transport Aya to a team mate’s body, giving you a clue about the ‘Overdive’ technique and how it functions within the game.
Not just a spin-off: vital changes and innovations
Although The 3rd Birthday has been described as a spin-off, it certainly seems to offer changes and innovations not found in the previous Parasite Eve series. First of all, Aya Brea is different: she lost her memory due to unknown causes, making her more vulnerable as well as making her motives more mysterious. The ‘Overdive’ is another interesting aspect helping the players battle hideous monsters through strategizing, finding vantage points or just having fun making your enemies explode from the inside. Certain characters from previous Parasite Eve sequels also appear in this one, like Eve Brea, who goes missing in Parasite Eve 2, and who might be involved in the Twisted attack as shown in the trailer. Kyle Madigan, Aya’s supposed love interest, also goes missing and might be involved in the attack somehow. Kunihiko Maeda, Aya’s friend and specialist in mitochondria research, re-appears as Aya’s person of trust in this sequel. We can also find people from the CTI team like Hyde Bohr, Thelonius Cray, Dr Blank and Karud ‘Boss’ Owen. Another empowered female character in the game is Gabrielle Monsigny who trains Aya in sniping and lends her body to Aya as well.
The 3rd Birthday seems like a promising game merging the genres of RPG and 3rd person shooter with smooth action and impressive visual effects, detailed graphics and interesting, evolving characters. This mix should definitely not disappoint RPG and Parasite Eve fans.