13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is the latest title from Vanillaware. Initially planned for a 2018 release on PS4 and PSVita, the game was delayed to 2019 in Japan with the PSVita version canceled. It released in Japan in November 2019 while the western release date is 22nd September 2020.
The story is the main selling point of the game. It is mostly told through the Remembrance mode of the game which consists of 13 different stories each centered on a character. All of these stories are intriguing from even just the prologue. These stories all cleverly interweave with each other creating an overarching story that unfolds in a non-linear way which feels satisfying when a big reveal takes place and pieces of the story start to fit together. Without spoiling anything, the bulk of the story takes place in 1980s Japan but the characters are quickly pulled into a much more futuristic war between mechs called Sentinels and Kaiju. It is definitely a complex story and filled with mysteries but the story never feels overwhelmingly confusing, and will definitely interest fans of the Sci-Fi genre.
Like most Vanillaware titles, the game’s visuals are stunning, Each environment is hand-painted and fits into the world perfectly. The art direction does an excellent job of creating the games world and general atmosphere. Each scene feels like a painting and the style perfectly complements the character designs which are memorable and feel distinct from one another. However, the game also features an RTS mode which feels like a visual downgrade from the rest of the game. Rather than it continuing the style of the rest of the game, it opts for a more simplistic approach with enemies and player sentinels being represented by dots on the screen and panels showing what character or enemy type it is. I feel this hurts the mode as it makes the mode look less visually interesting and makes it feel like an afterthought compared to the story portion
The game features both an English and Japanese dub for the characters. In both cases the voice acting is great. The voice acting feels expressive and natural. The music for the game sets the atmosphere for the game well and fits with the world. The themes in the story portions of the game match the tone well and the battle themes are particularly good and are very memorable. Overall the music is a perfect fit for the game.
The Game is split into 3 modes, Remembrance, Destruction, and Analysis. Remembrance is where the majority of the story takes place. You choose between 13 different protagonists. This mode is where you’ll spend the bulk of the game with. The gameplay of this mode consists of side-scrolling exploration that is very focused on dialogue. There is also a “Thought Bubble” mechanic that gives you keywords throughout the game and you use them to interact with characters or learn more in-depth knowledge about events, characters, or items in the story. Destruction, on the other hand, is a massive change in genres from Remembrance. It is an RTS mode that gives the player control in battles between the Sentinels and Kaiju. These battles usually revolve around either defeating all enemies or defending a point on the map for an amount of time. Being able to control the sentinels is fun for the most part, each sentinel has different capabilities. For example, some sentinels excel in long-ranged combat while others are better at close range. However, these battles don’t really pose much of a challenge and can get boring after a while, the Remembrance mode is the highlight of the game. The third and final mode is Analysis, which acts as a Glossary for the game and compiles the lore of the game along with the option to replay events and view character files. It can be useful when you need a recap on the events so far.
Overall, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is an incredibly unique game that crosses between genres and tells a fantastic nonlinear story through its many protagonists. However, The RTS segments of the game can feel too easy and take away from the high stakes battles they present. Despite this, the game is a great experience that I recommend all fans of the sci-fi genre give a chance.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a fantastic game that I thoroughly enjoyed my time with despite its RTS segments feeling too simple and an afterthought to the game’s brilliant story
Amazing story with RTS sections segments tacked on holding the product down a little.