Review: 13 Sentinels Game

Vanillaware's 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a brand new sci-fi adventure on the Playstation 4 that is very one of a kind. It merges a solid story with some of the best real-time strategy combat like I've never experienced it myself.

2020 may be a shitty year in general, but the year will also go down in the books as one of the best years in the field of video games. With already very strong titles that we have had this year, we also see the arrival of the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X. It is so busy this year in terms of gaming that you may have to let a lot of titles pass you by. Or simply many games just fly by under your radar. I'm afraid 13 Sentinels is also such a game in the latter category. And that's a shame, because damn! This is one for me.

Who is watching Natsuno from the laundry basket?

13 Sentinels

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is split into two pieces. On the one hand you play the story of the game and on the other hand you conduct unique battles in real-time strategic battles. At first I thought I wouldn't appreciate the combat. After all, I'm not really into strategic combat, but the story and the drawing style of the game really appealed to me. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try and I can proudly say that I am not disappointed. In fact, I actually really liked the combat. It is audiovisually enhanced in such a way that normally boring strategic battles can also be packed with action. But first, let's take a step back. What exactly is 13: Sentinels?

The compatible ones

In 13 Sentinels you take on the role of 13 protagonists. You play them all in turn and each character has his/her own storyline. Each storyline somehow connects with all the other storylines, so that you always follow a common thread through the story, but from different perspectives over time.

Iori Fuyusaka is one of many characters!

It's very difficult to explain the story in itself because I'm afraid I'll reveal something too quickly. I can only tell things from the first few hours of the game, while it is after those few hours that it gets really interesting. This is also logical because with a story like this it is very difficult not to reveal too much. So I'm going to keep it very superficial and give you the following: For God's sake, play it yourself.

The world is under attack by Kaiju, presumably some kind of alien species that attacks the world with machines that destroy the city. The Kaiju seem to take a strong example from Tripods from the well-known "The War of the Worlds" franchise, of which I still have a very cool LP, but that aside.

Did someone say "LP" there?

Sentinels are used to protect the world from the Kaiju. Sentinels are huge robots controlled by pilots, the pilots you play in the story. The whole story takes about 300 years and time rising plays a major role in this. You constantly play with familiar characters at certain times to find out what is actually going on.

Do I get it?

Do not expect the first 10 hours of the story that you have any idea of what is going on. There is so much happening and it is very difficult to keep track of it all. Slowly but surely you get more and more puzzle pieces thrown so that you can start puzzling the total picture together, but it is still not straight forward. And this is so incredibly cool in this game. Once you think you know what's going on and predict how things will turn out, the game throws a curveball that ruins your theory all over again. Okay, wow! What just happened there?

Am I doing what is right?

It even gets so bad that in the end you don't even know who the enemy really is. Is it really all so black and white? Is there actually an enemy? Am I perhaps the enemy as a player of one of the 13 characters? So many questions whose answers are nowhere near thrown into your lap. Questions that arise with character A may only be answered late in character F, or not even answered, but your conclusion will be questioned again. It is the Inception of video games, but turned up to eleven.

In the Sentinel

The strategic battles in the game take place in parts of the city where you have to defend a certain location against the Kaiju. You can take 6 Sentinels into battle and there are four different generations of Sentinels. Every generation is strong in a certain category. Ground, sky, far, near or a bit of both. Before a battle, the description briefly shows what you can expect. On this you can put together your team to fight as effectively as possible. After all, a good start is half the battle.

During the story and during battles, you also get a certain energy that you can use to buy new weapons for Sentinels or make them stronger. Each battle ends when the invading Kaiju are defeated or you complete a certain quest. Each battle also earns you bonus points if you complete special quests such as trying to win a battle with only 4 Sentinels, or using a certain Sentinel. In general, the battles were also very doable with these conditions.

Yes, all pilots are naked in their Sentinel..

out of line

Something I personally didn't like about the fights is that they don't fit together nicely with the story. It's a bit detached from it while for some storylines you first have to complete a certain series of battles. During the intro of the game you get a nice fight at a certain moment, after which the story continues. After the intro you are in a sense free to decide when to follow the story and when to fight.

replay sections with different twists!

At certain points in the story you will be blocked from continuing to play with a certain character because you have to do something else first. Each character has its own percentage progress in the story and with character A, for example, you will be stopped at 54% because you first have to complete a certain event with character B. Story-wise, this works well, so that you get your new puzzle pieces at the right moments. You still keep your freedom with this, because there are 13 characters that you can play. Yet the game manages to combine this freedom well, so that you are always fed with new information or confused events in the mystery.

The fights are a bit separate from this, where I would have preferred that they came by at certain moments, such as during the intro.

Worked out to perfection

The game really has a perfect finish and this also accentuates the level of detail that has been put into this game. It is almost a masterpiece. From a beautiful 2D drawing style to very fine voice-overs in both Japanese and English, where the characters really take on a character. The battles are intense, full of action and suspense and the story is so incredibly complex, but so interesting that it keeps you in full suspense until the last minutes. All this is accompanied by a soundtrack that gives the perfect atmosphere during both the story segments and the battles.

Verdict

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim probably flew past you on the radar. Luckily, I'm here for you to tell you that you really should give it a shot. It's not a game for everyone. It's not God of War or Call of Duty where you are constantly the action. Do you like a good story that will leave you wondering for hours what is actually going on? Do you like mystery in a beautifully developed world? Then this is your game. Even if you're not a fan of real-time strategy!

While playing the story, a thought kept coming to my mind: They should make an anime out of this! And that while I haven't watched anime for at least 7 years. I didn't find any anime that could match Death Note, but during this game I thought that an anime of this game could become my next Death Note. It's that good!

 
 

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