Usually, games like Light Novels can be confusing or even tedious to play by some standard, essentially being playable books with some pretty pictures here and there. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim goes far beyond the calling of what would normally be considered an auto text scrolling light novel, and presents itself as a compelling, mysterious story that entices you to look back through the clues and find out everything you can. When I say it was genuinely hard for me to pull myself away from this game, I really mean it. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is not only beautiful to look at and experience, but compelling to a point where the desire for conclusion drives you to keep playing.
Now saying 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a Light Novel is a bit of an undersell. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is not only a side scrolling branch choice adventure spanning multiple characters, it is also a tactical strategy game in which giant robots fight kaiju. This is where the game gets much more interesting, as playing through combat levels is integral in discovering parts of the story as well, due to some of the rewards being unlockable bits of information pertaining to some of the characters. The gameplay really boils down into two parts: the first being the character based adventure, as you go on to play each character’s story at a time, putting together the pieces of the story as you go. No one character’s story is a “complete” one, as different protagonists show up in the other stories and fill in blanks they might have in their own. This is why it’s immensely important to go through and play as all the characters, as you’ll only get the full story after playing as all of them. The second aspect is the proper combat, which is done on what appears to be a 3D city map with ally and enemy nodes. You take charge of the combat characters and have them move along the city streets (or fly over the buildings) to eliminate the enemy kaiju. The unfortunate part about the combat for some is how minimalistic it looks. You don’t necessarily see the robots shooting the guns or punching the enemies, everything is centered around the map and there aren’t any cutaways to combat. It wasn’t an issue I had personally, but I can see people getting excited for high octane combat but be disappointed when it’s completely centered around strategy.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is absolutely gorgeous. Upon loading up the game for the first time and seeing the splash art along with the music, I was thrown back to a time where I’d play JRPGs for entire days and not get exhausted. Seeing Vanillaware and Atlus listed for this game immediately had me excited, because that quick fix of amazing production value and music was not going to go untouched. I was absolutely correct, and the atmosphere this game sets is nothing short of completely immersing. Even when only speaking about the music and sound design for combat, it feels really impactful. Every missile and every punch really hits your core, and makes the combat more exciting than it lets on. This even goes for the cutaway combat scenes when you’re playing the adventure mode. Even though the screen fades to black, you know someone’s getting absolutely clobbered when it happens. The sound design, combined with the insanely beautiful environment and characters is just amazing. I’m a sucker for painted styles, and 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim does not disappoint. The character designs and introductory visuals were enough to get a reaction out of me, but the environments are something else. With the sheer variety presented and all of them being either plain beautiful or the type of mysterious, haunting beauty that some games like Bloodborne present; I never was bored in the adventure mode. I can keep gushing about how beautiful this game is for hours, but nothing compares to experiencing it.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a gem that hopefully gets the time in the light it deserves. While it can definitely seem like a niche pickup compared to games like Persona 5, if you love Sci-Fi and a compelling mystery I implore you to pick this game up. This is the type of thought provoking game that is incredibly hard to predict, but when the puzzle comes together it is immensely satisfying. Even if the combat isn’t your cup of tea, the adventure and mystery alone can be enough to justify a purchase. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is nothing short of a great Sci-Fi/Strategy game, and vets of the genres should absolutely pick this up.
Score: 9 out of 10
Reviewed on Playstation 4