13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim Preview - Beautiful, Massive Sci-Fi Nerdiness in Game Form

Ignoring 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim for not being an Action RPG like most Vanillaware games would be one of the biggest mistakes of your life.

August 20, 2020

DualShockers recently had the opportunity to preview the Western release of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim. Through the efforts of Atlus West and Sega, the latest entry in Vanillaware’s catalog will be available in a month on PS4. Lauded and praised by numerous developers since its Japanese release, some over the ocean might still be skeptical towards 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim. After going through the early hours of the game (again) with this preview, I can assure you rushing in and grabbing the game as soon as possible can only do you good.

The first hours of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a prologue doubling as a tutorial. Guiding you through the first parts of some of the protagonists’ story, it will teach you the game’s flow:  how to navigate through its intricate sci-fi plot, and how to master the Sentinels battles, the titular mecha.

Players who pick up 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim will immediately recognize multiple differences and similarities with past Vanillaware games. Vanillaware has always accustomed us to its fantasy settings, inspired from the east and the west alike. However, 13 Sentinels is set in a modern world similar to our own, and goes for sci-fi rather than fantasy.

Next up, we have the biggest difference and elephant in the room: 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim unlike its predecessors isn’t an Action RPG but more akin to an ADV. The type of games commonly named visual novels outside Japan. If you’ve tried out Sakura Wars, it’s basically the same type of game, but with 2D side-scrolling instead of 3D environments. Controlling the various protagonists, you’ll have to explore the 2D environments, discuss with NPCs, and connect the protagonists’ ideas, items and feelings through the Thought Cloud. Imagine an interactive, narrated inventory, which contains not only the items possessed by the character, but also the information they currently hold. This is the Thought Cloud. And it feels great.

Battles in 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim are an ingenious mix of real-time and turn-based. With an overview of the map, you control the Sentinels, defending the city against the D-Forces, the Kaiju. The main objective here isn’t to annihilate all the Kaiju, but to gain time and protect the Terminals until a special defense system, the Aegis, activates. Terminals are constantly aimed at by the Kaiju, and need to be protected. This gives the battles a tower defense-like feel, though it’s nothing flimsy like flash games in late 2000s you might have experienced. Each Sentinel also has its distinct weapons and equipment, and mastering them and using the right offense at the right moment will be the key to victory.

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The adventure parts of 13 Sentinels are also handled wonderfully. The characters’ animations and expression fit every situation, and easily display the charms of the cast. The first two protagonists you’ll get to control, Kurabe Juro and Iori Fuyusaka, easily displays how each one of them and their stories will definitely feel unique and remarkable. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim beautifully displays the savoir-faire Vanillaware cultivated over decades. You’ll be in daze at the crêpes, yakisoba pan, and other delicacies the characters will be enjoying too. It can easily be titled the most beautiful 2D game on PS4, and in years.

Lastly, from what I’ve seen of it so far, the English localization of was handled pretty well too. It’s the kind which keeps the Japanese honorifics, and might not be to the taste of everyone, but it doesn’t makes it bad in my book.

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim will be out on September 22, exclusively on PS4. As someone who owns the Japanese version of the game, though I sadly didn’t have the time to play it for months, I’ve already shared many impressions. Check out our past coverage and our YouTube channel if you’re interested.

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Iyane Agossah

Living near Paris, Iyane (He/Him) is the head of Japanese content at DualShockers. He speaks Japanese, has been watching anime for over 25 years, and plays Genshin Impact mainly for its story. You can reach him on Twitter at @A_iyane07.

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