Parasite Eve has always interested me, and after taking a vote on a horror game from my backlog to include in this year’s reviews, I finally played it.
Going into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it was both a horror game and a JRPG, but how would those two elements come together?
Parasite Eve has the aesthetics of a survival horror game, particularly something like Resident Evil, with abandoned facilities to explore, mutated creatures to fight, and doors to unlock (although not nearly as many as in survival horror).
Yet it plays like a JRPG. Battles reward you with items and experience, and you level up to increase your stats. You even have a form of magic you can use, with new abilities learned as you level up.
As for the combat system itself, it’s a hybrid of action and turn-based systems. Enemies appear in set locations and you avoid attacks in real time, but when your ATB meter fills up, you choose your action like in a turn-based RPG. It’s a pretty cool system, and one of the best action/turn-based hybrids I’ve seen.
Upgrading your guns and armor is also a big part of the game. Equipment comes with special traits, and by using Tools, you can transfer traits and stat boosts from one piece of equipment to another.
Parasite Eve has a more story-driven focus like a JRPG, lots of dialogue, and even a hub area where you can talk to a few characters (although not to the same degree as in a typical RPG). The plot itself, however, is definitely horror. You play as Aya Brea, a cop who is attending an opera when the singer on stage suddenly makes everyone else spontaneously combust.
The culprit turns out to be Eve, a being that is essentially evolved mitochondria taking over the body of her host, and she plans to bring about a new race of superior beings.
In case that didn’t give it away, the science in Parasite Eve is absolutely insane. Its use of actual science is intriguing and helps with its survival horror vibe, but there’s definite JRPG-level insanity to this plot and its explanations.
I love it.
Now, so far I’ve only played through the main story. I understand that second playthrough includes a large bonus dungeon that unlocks the “true ending,” but that will be something for another time.
Parasite Eve combines two of my favorite genres, even though it had less survival horror elements than I expected, and I’m happy I played it. The sequel is definitely on my list of games to try.---
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