Parasite Eve - Reader Re-Retroview  

Fahrenheit 12/24
by Jeremy Michael Gallen

Less than 20 Hours
+ Decent battle system.
+ Great story.
+ Superb visuals.
- You can die after the last boss.
- Limited inventory is a bit annoying.
- Many areas without music.
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   Christmas Eve, 1997. Aya Brea, a rookie in the New York Police Department, attends an opera with her boyfriend, during which everyone in the building spontaneously combusts, except Aya, her date, and the lead actress in the opera, Melissa Pearce, who mutates and now calls herself Eve. For a six-day period, Aya and a few companions investigate this incident so they can save New York City from Eve and prevent her from giving birth to the Ultimate Being. Square's Parasite Eve is a survivor-horror-RPG follow-up to the Japanese novel of the same name by Hideaki Sena, which provides a short yet sweet experience in spite of its flaws.

   Eve, however, is not the only one who has mutated, as a number of strange mutant creatures have appeared across New York City, many of which Aya must battle during her investigation. Battles are triggered whenever she walks across certain "hot spots" in the game's many environs, after which said creatures appear and combat commences. Aya can freely wander battlefields as her active time gauge charges up; when it has, she can use her current firearm to shoot a number of bullets at the enemy, use an item, use Parasite-Energy-consuming Parasite Powers, or attempt to escape, which will cost her some experience and can often fail in the first place.

   Aya's Parasite Energy gradually recharges during combat, allowing the player to make liberal use of her Powers during combat, even if there are many useless abilities (although a spell she gains late in the game can literally spell the difference between victory and defeat in the final battles). She also gains a number of new firearms and armor during her quest, with the player able to use Tools to move special weapon and armor capabilities, such as increased bullet firing during attack, automatic item use when low on HP, and so forth, from one piece of equipment to another, which will cause the equipment from which the player derives said ability to disappear.

   Leveling up increases Aya's stats, occasionally gives her a new Parasite Power, and gives the player Bonus Points they can use to increase item capacity, active time speed, or equipment stats. It is also possible to obtain modification permits to give weapons and armor additional special ability slots. The main benefit of the combat system is its speed; since Aya fights alone, battles naturally don't take a long time, but she is completely vulnerable to enemies when attacking, which can make weapons that can fire a lot of bullets a double-edged sword. Despite this, the game isn't too difficult, with the last few battles being a breeze once Aya gains a certain Parasite Power. All in all, combat is one of the main draws to Parasite Eve.

Liberate This skill will save you late in the game.

   Interaction, though, is the game's low point. While the menus are easy to navigate, the limit on inventory space is annoying, even though the player can occasionally increase this limit with Bonus Points. Though it does add to the effectiveness of the battle system by limiting the amount of items Aya can carry into combat, it creates the problem of having to discard items constantly (key items, weapons, and armor also eat up inventory space), and it might have been nice to instantly send items to the NYPD's storage facility with maximum inventory space. There are also some points of no return near the end of the game that will certainly irk some players, and what's more, it is possible to die and get a "Game Over" after killing the last boss. All in all, the interface could have been far better.

   While it does derive the active time element of combat from the Final Fantasy franchise and a little bit of its story from the novel of the same name, Parasite Eve definitely deserves points for creativity, with elements such as free movement during said active time combat, alongside Aya's method of attack and weapon modification, being inventive, and influences upon the combat system that would show up in Vagrant Story. The main plot itself was definitely different from those of other RPGs in the game's time, and overall, the game even today stands as one of Square's unique titles.

   Parasite Eve is heavily story-driven, so fortunately, the story serves the game well, with Aya, being the sole playable character, naturally receiving decent development (as well as a few of her companions), with her relationship to Eve explored in detail during the game, with the plot, overall, providing a nice break from the typical fantasy-themed narratives of RPGs. The ending is a little weird, but the story is one of the game's high points.

   The music, composed by Yoko Shimomura, definitely has its moments, with a central theme occasionally showing up during the game, although keeping in sync with the game's survival horror nature, a lot of areas are silent, with only the sound of Aya's footsteps filling the void. The other sound effects, such as the gunshots from Aya's various weapons, are decent, as well, although the soundtrack could have certainly been more diverse, and present, at that.

   Parasite Eve, though, looks better than it sounds, with plenty of pre-rendered scenery, decent character and enemy models, and FMVs appearing throughout the game. The models do appear a little grainy, but are hardly blemishes on otherwise superb graphics.

   Finally, the game is fairly short, taking a little under ten hours to complete, with an EX game mode, including an extra dungeon and alternate ending, able to pad out this time. Overall, Parasite Eve is a short but enjoyable game, with decent combat, a great story, and nice visuals. Some of its flaws, such as the ability to die after the last boss and limited item space, will definitely annoy some, although the title is still a solid experience, even more so than its sequel.

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