13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim - Doomsday Trailer | PlayStation 4
Who it Caters to
The easiest way to answer it would be to say that 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is catered towards a very specific audience: those who love sci-fi stories, giant mechas, and mystery visual novels. If you don't like any of these, then it will be difficult for you to actually enjoy the narrative, since it heavily relies on all three topics. Of course, we're talking about a Japanese visual novel here, so that's another clue about whether you'll like this game or not.
What to Expect
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is an action visual novel, so expect a narrative-driven adventure where you make decisions and control how things unfold—to a certain degree, at least. However, it's not only about experiencing the story as a passive spectator, since you also have to battle huge kaiju with powerful building-sized robots. That being said, 13 Sentinels is not really a TBS game; the battles are there to support the story and not to test your skills.
One of the things we love the most about this game is how it looks, especially because it could be just another visual novel with still images and boring backgrounds. However, all these scenarios are absolutely beautiful and detailed, and all characters are interesting and full of personality. When it comes to the battles, everything looks as futuristic as you would expect in a game about enormous machines destroying everything in their path. That being said, the achievement is not to imitate that but to get each part of this game—including the menus—to blend seamlessly into a unique style.
The reason why it all feels so natural is, perhaps, the OST. Every track perfectly complements what's happening in the story and helps set the mood, and that's important to mention since a lot of visual novels use filler songs just to avoid silence while you read. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is fully voiced—no English dub, sadly—and that gives the characters different attitudes and personalities. The best part of it is that SFX are really good, but even when you're piloting these Sentinels in Destruction mode, all characters are interacting with each other and painting a bigger picture. As you can see, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a game that really pays attention to details, both graphically and aurally.
What if huge alien monsters came to destroy our planet, and only a group of teenagers and their Sentinels could save us? And what if some of these guys came from the future? Oh, and what if these weren't actually alien kaiju and reality turned out to be much more sinister?
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, as we stated before, is two games in one... but you have to play both if you don't want to get stuck. Once you finish the prologue, you can decide to start with the Remembrance mode and focus on the story or jump straight to the war on kaiju in the Destruction mode. Once you reach a certain point, you'll be asked to unlock a specific event with a specific character in order to advance to the next battle (or vice versa), so in the end, you have to play both regardless of your preference. Also, this is a game with 13 main characters, so there's really no protagonist here; all stories intertwine at some point, and all characters are equally important, so you can play your favorite characters first and take the rest as a mean to uncover more secrets about your pilots of choice. In fact, there's no such thing as your pilot of choice, to be honest, as brain overload (BOL) prevents you from always using the same team.
In Remembrance mode, you can only control one character at a time, but you can decide the order. For obvious reasons, this is a non-linear game, and so it can get frustrating at times. At first, you'll definitely feel overwhelmed with all these names (not just 13 kids, but some of them have secret identities too!), places, and different timelines, but trust us when we say it's worth it!
Remember that scene you didn't really understand? And what about this guy who you thought was really nice but now tried to kill your other character in a different timeline? Don't worry, it will all make sense once you get to experience both sides of the story. Sometimes you'll be playing the same segments again and again, but having some extra info in your thought cloud will lead your character to new discoveries and interactions. If you see green icons in the top-right corner of the screen, that means you have something to consider in your thought cloud; if the icon is red, then you can question another character on a specific topic or interact with a specific object.
Destruction mode is where you can forget about all the drama and just slaughter every monster on sight. If you only care about the story, you can change the difficulty to Casual and call it a day, although you can try Normal or even Intense for a more challenging run. All areas consist of 10 waves, with several objectives and bosses to try.
Your team can have up to 6 Sentinels, and all robots have different skills and weapons. However, a pilot can only fight twice in a row before suffering from brain overload (BOL), which makes them ineligible for a fight. If you recover them by pressing the Square button, they'll be available again, but you'll lose your streak bonus. Another thing you can do is spending Meta-Chips to unlock new weapons or upgrading the Sentinels for better stats (available once you beat Area 2, Wave 1). Also, all pilots earn a new trait every 5 levels, so maybe it's not that bad to train them all and see who you like the most.
There's a third mode called Analysis, where you can replay all unlocked events. This is important because here you can see the year in which this event takes place, making it all easier to understand. Using your Mystery Points you can as well unseal Mystery Files, learning more about all characters, places, and items in the game.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim's mix of genres feels like an experiment that went too well but could be very difficult to replicate again. We must admit we had a hard time getting used to 13 protagonists. A couple of hours later, however, we were already picking our favorite heroes and feeling more and more drawn to the intricate plot. If we were to criticize something, it would definitely be the way the battles lose prominence to such an amazing story, ultimately overshadowing the strategy aspects of the game.
Although the cast is huge, all characters are equally important to the story.
Great non-linear narrative.
Beautiful graphics and character design.
The turn-based battle system is good, yet it feels like a gimmick.
It could be hard for you to follow the story with all these characters, time travels, and secret identities.
Honey's Final Verdict:
To be honest, we were expecting a fun game about mechas, so we were a little surprised to find a fabulous visual novel with plenty of plot twists and alternate paths. If you enjoy this kind of visual novel, where you not only read some dialogue but actually get to do something, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim should definitely be your next buy!
Author: Rod Locksley
Hey! I'm Rod, and when I'm not watching anime or playing video games I'm probably writing about them, but I'm also a graphic and web designer, and I even published a comic book and worked like 4 years for a well-known MMORPG. Curiously, my favorite series are quite different from each other, so I'm still trying to understand what I really like in an anime...