We take a look at Vanillaware’s new game, a title that combines narrative-focused adventure parts along with minimalist yet effective combat.
Over the years, Vanillaware has been one of the studios that has been gaining presence and some popularity thanks to its games, which have explored different styles of gameplay as well as settings, always offering striking quality in all its aspects, especially when it comes to character design. From Grim Grimoire to Dragon’s Crown, through other titles such as Odin Sphere or Muramasa: The Demon Blade have been the most outstanding works of the studio today.
Today, after a long wait, their latest game finally arrives, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, a title that closely follows the story of thirteen young people at different times and how they unite in their fight to protect humanity from the kaiju. piloting the sentries, large robots with the ability to fight them, becoming the last hope to save humanity.
The first steps in the game will lead to the prologue of the stories of some of the main characters along with battle phases that will serve as a tutorial to learn about the capabilities of the different sentries in the game, as well as their capabilities to fight the kaiju in combat. Once this part is completed, the game will offer the option to continue playing, alternating between adventure mode, to know the previous history of each character and the background of it, or play battle mode, in which the characters, in the present, They fight desperately against hordes of kaiju to stop them from destroying the city.
In the adventure mode, the action will focus on the prolegomena of the events of the battle mode, offering the events prior to the confrontation against the kaijus from the perspective of each of the thirteen protagonists of the game and through several plot phases that will show different backgrounds of their experiences throughout the development of the game’s history. Through each of the scenarios, including phases in the institute, in the city or in other times, you will interact with other characters and also with the environment in search of objects that will help you progress in the adventure. Through this, concepts will be added to the thoughts of the character, accessible by pressing the triangle button, which will allow knowing the character’s point of view of the same while, in certain cases, using them when interacting when speaking, while they will serve as key elements to unlock new sections within the character’s story.
Each story is developed through a scheme, visible by pressing the square button during adventure mode, which will include some phases that take place from the same control point but with different splits, which in some cases will be marked by moving the cursor over the box and seeing the keywords or actions to take to unlock them. It should be noted that these phases lack moments of action, except for certain specific points, focusing mainly on the development of the plot and without many options to alter the course of the plot, justifiable by how the game is raised, while there are also no options for die, except for certain moments in which you simply return to the starting point of that section and try again.
It should be noted that one of the striking aspects in this mode is the artistic design it shows, since both the characters, each of them well differentiated, and the settings offer a set that despite being somewhat simple, stands out for its details and its finish, both for the animations and gestures of each character and for the animated elements of the scenarios and the effects they have, such as the students chatting at the end of the school day in the classrooms, the courtyard showing at the away to the members of the sports clubs training or the lonely and at the same time old atmosphere of the old building of the institute.
Battle mode in detail
The battle mode, meanwhile, focuses on the confrontations in different areas of the thirteen characters aboard their sentries to face the hordes of kaiju that will progressively appear to destroy the terminal in each area, which the group must defend at all costs. Each battle will have the thirteen characters participating in it but only six will be controllable by the player to face the enemies, leaving the rest of the group as the terminal’s defense line. Each phase will be overcome if the time limit with the active terminal expires or by defeating all the enemies that appear in combat, having in certain phases some different ones, such as ending with a special type of kaiju of great power.
The sentinels of the group are divided into four generational types, being the first generation strong in face-to-face confrontations with physical attacks especially, the second generation are more balanced and suitable for both close and long distance attacks while using skills and Support weaponry, the third generation focuses on long-range attacks and the fourth, for its part, focuses on support skills. Each of the units will initially have basic attacks and weapons that, after advancing in the game, will be able to customize and optimize their performance.
During the combats the group of characters will be able to make use of the Meta system that includes the terminals of each area and that allow the use of special abilities to temporarily give a certain advantage in adverse situations or to support the group. To activate this system, it will be necessary to accumulate metachips, which are obtained by defeating the kaiju in battle, filling the bar at the bottom of the screen until it reaches the maximum, at which time it can be used. Initially it can be used only once in combat and with only one skill available, use an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) that will affect the entire combat area, but the system can be improved to increase its level, unlock new skills, increase the ratio of points and metachips earned and also to unlock new weaponry for the robots. Likewise, metachips will be earned by completing the different sections of each character’s story.
All kinds of customization
The customization of the weapons includes different types depending on the type of sentry, offering options such as releasing the limits of force, at the cost of the robot’s resistance, using anti-aircraft flares to protect from missiles, summoning turrets or guardians to attack the enemies or that these focus fire on them respectively, use EMP bursts, fire a battery of missiles, etc. All these skills will require their unlocking in the first instance and later improvement so that their level increases and therefore improve their benefits when using them, reaching the maximum level when reaching eight. Each sentry can equip a maximum of six skills to use in combat.
On the other hand, with the progression in the battles, the sentry improvement system will be opened in which the metachips can be inverted to improve the robot’s performance in five sections: armor (increases life points and defense), generator (increases the level of XP along with the recovery of them and also increases the attack power), anti-fire (increases the attack power and the critical level along with the precision), propulsion (improves speed and defense at the same time that increases the speed of movements and the distance that the sentry can travel) and neuroconnection (increases speed, precision and also the experience points obtained and reduces the levels of cerebrum Reviews).
By using each pilot very assiduously, their cerebrum Reviews levels will increase, denoted in the upper part of each character’s portrait on the selection screen, being rendered useless if it reaches maximum levels. This can be solved by pressing the square button to recover those affected from the symptoms and become available again, but in contrast, the streak of points will be lost, which will increase after each completed phase and which allows to gain more points, metachips and experience, returning this to their initial levels.
In combat, four commands can be used when acting, and each of the characters can be selected from the start and then each of them can be activated by filling in their turn bar, visible in the portrait of each character in combat. The action command allows you to enter the sentry’s weapons selection to use the different options available depending on the development of the battle. The move option will allow the chosen sentry to be relocated through the map, taking into account in most cases the trajectory through the different streets of the city until reaching the objective, except for the fourth generation that can move faster thanks to its ability to fly. The next command is to repair and allows the pilot to eject from the sentry to initiate repairs throughout a turn to later reactivate it and return to combat. This has, however, a drawback and that is that the pilot is exposed to enemy attacks and therefore the chances of being killed by a missile explosion are greater, for example, which will result in the game ending with the mission failed. Denote that in the event that the sentry suffers critical damage, the pilot will forcefully eject. Finally the last option to defend and with it the energy points (EP) necessary to use the sentry’s weapons will be recovered.
Through each confrontation, different varieties of enemies will make an appearance that over time will become more difficult to beat, including kaijus capable of generating shields to nullify the damage of the missiles, gladiator-type that have the same abilities as sentinels or the EX type, versions with great attack power and difficult to shoot down, being necessary to use the properties of each sentry effectively in order to defeat them.At the end of each combat, the pilots will gain experience and level up progressively, which will In the long run it will allow them to unlock personal skills that will help improve their performance in combat.
Each combat phase includes certain additional conditions, such as having the terminal’s life percentage above 60%, using certain characters in combat or only four units in battle, which will allow unlocking files related to the lore of the game, both term, objects and even the weapons that the sentinels have among other aspects, which can be consulted in the files option of the main menu. On the other hand, mystery points will also be obtained that will be used to obtain secret files within the same option.
The Files menu includes both the information found in the secret files and those unlocked through combat and also serves as a progress log of the game’s story, showing the events seen so far for each of the story lines and stories. An orderly way, showing the progression of the story from its beginning to the beginning of the battle mode, which is the present for the protagonists of the game. The files will be updated with new information as the story progresses in each of the character plots.
In the playable section, it should be said that the main basis in this aspect resides in the battle mode, offering combats that despite its visual simplicity, contrasts with the possibilities offered by the different types of sentries and their weapons, even encouraging the use of different courses of action and strategies to be able to solve each one of the phases of which this mode consists. Likewise, the challenge that this mode includes both for the secondary objectives and for the types of enemies that will evolve and strengthen as the game progresses, is striking enough to keep the player glued to control until the conclusion of this mode, although additionally a series of extra phases are included, without history, in which to face new hordes of enemies. For its part, the adventure mode offers simple interaction phases, focusing this mode more on the narrative than on the gameplay.
A house brand audiovisual section: Vanillaware in its purest form
In the graphic section we have some designs of characters and settings that stand out for maintaining the essence of which the studio boasts in its productions, offering a graphic section that draws attention to the different details offered by each of the characters and settings in such a way that the result is remarkable. For its part, the battle mode offers a minimalist aspect, almost recalling a retro game style that, although it may seem low level for a title from a studio like Vanillaware, it really goes according to the action of the game itself and is effective at the same time. the time to play, since the importance in this case lies in the playable section.
Regarding the musical section, there are several pieces offered by the game, including eighties-style vocal themes as well as other instrumentals that marry perfectly both with the action of the adventure parts and in the battles, offering a wide variety of styles that will delight ears during the game. As for the dubbing, although from the outset the game only includes voices in Japanese, with a remarkable quality it should be noted, through an update that will appear on the day the game goes on sale, the option of dubbing in English will be included.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is, in short, a game that stands out for offering a balanced set, both for the artistic design and the narrative shown in the adventure mode and for the gameplay with a minimalist but effective style of the battle mode. The plot is interesting both for its development, which in the long run is much more than what meets the eye, and for the different main characters contrasting with the intense gameplay of the fighting, which stand out for the possibilities of the different sentries and its weapons what gives game to try different courses of action and strategy when playing.
- The plot becomes interesting as you progress through each character’s point of view.
- The group of characters, offering a wide variety of stereotypes and well-differentiated characters and with whom it is possible to empathize in the long run.
- The graphic design of the game, with a striking style and with a wide variety of details for both the characters and the settings.
- The battles, which despite their graphic simplicity, end up being very addictive in their development and offering various courses of action and strategies with the use of the different characters and their respective sentinels.
- Texts entirely in Spanish.
- Perhaps the development of the adventure parts can be tedious in certain sections.
- Some difficulty peaks in certain battles.
A game with a remarkable finish that we will enjoy and remember. A good buy, highly recommended for lovers of the genre. It is well cared for at all levels.