Parasite Eve - Review

The Worst Foe...

By: Red Raven

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 4
   Music/Sound 5
   Originality 8
   Plot 7
   Localization 5
   Replay Value 5
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

10-12 hours


Parasite Eve

   The one thing that separates Square from other companies, like Enix, is that they are always experimenting. Outside of the flagship series, RPG titles are frequently diverse and original. Such is the case with Parasite Eve, which was released September 10th, 1998. Set in present-day New York it chronicles the events that transpired over six short days that could have ended the human race's dominance of the world. Featuring an innovative battling system and mature plot, this is definitely one game that deserves a closer look.

   Despite the fact that there is only one playable character, combat is surprisingly strategic. This is because while supporting an ATB gauge, PE lets the player move around battlefield to dodge attacks. Aya Brea, the protagonist of this game, has access to a number of different weapons, the majority of them being guns. While attacking a grid sphere shows the weapon's accuracy with different weapons having different ranges. Even though this RPG takes place in a contemporary setting, Square still managed to squeeze in a magic system, which is run by "Parasite Energy." Having a very limited array of spells demotes this mysterious ability to mere healing duties the majority of the time.

   After leveling up, you gain a number of points that may be used in conjunction with tool wrenches to customize the various guns and armor you find. The whole system is pretty easy to figure out, if not a little unrealistic. PE puts on an air of plausibility, but still allows you to make a pistol that shoots rockets. This discrepancy pails in comparison to the illogical running speed of Aya during the course of the game. In the opening scene Aya is wearing a dress which makes running slow reasonable. However later that night, she changes into a pair of jeans and yet still runs horribly slow. This seemingly small annoyance is compounded ten-fold as you traverse large open expanses of ground along the New York scenery.

Aya pondering humanity's future.
Aya pondering humanity's future.  

   I suppose if you ran faster you could beat the game in about 5 hours. As it stands however, most first-time players can expect Parasite Eve to be a breezy 10-12 hour game, making this one of Square's shortest RPGs in history. But don't let this fact detour you from the game, the plot more than picks up for the slack. The action and story is fast paced and fun as you run around New York trying to stop the mitochondria revolution. The presentation of the game is almost cinematic in quality, which is always good. The characters talk liberally about the science and nature of the plot, a great motivator to pay more attention in biology class, and one might start to worry about such an event happening in real life. A PhD is not necessary to understand and enjoy the game, so breathe easy all the class clowns out there.

   If the music of Parasite Eve were viewed separately from the context of the game itself, it would be considered fantastic. The piano is a reoccurring instrument in most songs and it carries the melody nicely. But when the music actually plays during the game makes it only average. Certain scenes feature the repetitive overworld theme where no music is necessary, while other instances during emotional scenes contain nothing by silence. Sound effects are always a hard area to score correctly, but I never really paid attention to the gunshots and screams of dying mutants anyway. They are certainly present but I don't recall any area where they particularly stand out.

How COULD you fight something like this?
How COULD you fight something like this?  

   As stated earlier, this is one of Square's highly innovated experiments. The graphics certainly blew FF7 out of the water and so did the FMVs. The battle system had never been done before and neither had the one-character party system either. Obviously the weapon customization had never been done as well. Certainly the plot cannot be left out, so it becomes quite apparent that this is one fresh gaming experience.

Viewed from two years later it becomes evident that Parasite Eve was a stepping-stone to bigger and badder Square games. But just because it was a stepping-stone doesn't mean that it has no merit as a unique game itself. Certainly it is just the opposite and anyone in the market of a cheap game that is nothing like anything else should consider adding it to their personal collection. Whether it is for seeing the new (at the time) battle system, mature plot, or contemporary setting, Parasite Eve definitely deserves a second look. We can all only hope that Square continues the fine tradition of making exceptional and diverse games for all RPGamers, everywhere.

Pay attention, you might learn something.
Pay attention, you might learn something.  

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