21st Game Finished of 2019: Parasite Eve – PSX (1998)

I finished up my replay of Parasite Eve last night. Some thoughts:

*I hadn’t played the game in close to 20 years. It still rocks.

*The development team is a star studded afair, with Sakaguchi coming up with the idea for the adaptation and being the game producer, Tokita (Chrono Trigger) writing and directing, Shinomura (Kingdom Hearts) composing music, and Nomura doing character designs.

*Like most games from the PSX era, the character models are rather blurry but the pre-rendered backgrounds still hold up pretty well. It looks old, because it is, but there is a nice classic adventure game feel to the visuals.

*The cutscenes on the other hand actually still look pretty great. There is some anime face going on with Aya and Melissa/Eve but everything else looks awesome. PE had some really heavy gore, with people melting and creatures being grotesque and mutated.

*The story is sci-fi schlock but good, solid, fun sci-fi schlock. It also doesn’t overstay its welcome. I finished it in 11 hours, which seems about on par with most playthroughs according to HowLongToBeat.

*There are random battles but they generally only take place in certain areas and once you encounter a battle, the room you are in is usually safe to explore.

* Mechanically the game is great.

-The battle system still plays well and was obviously an inspiration for many RPGs that had more active combat in the years to come. It’s ATB based, where you wait to fill up a meter to perform an action, but while you are waiting you have direct control of Aya in the battle arena and can move around to avoid attacks or position yourself for a better attack. I found I didn’t really need to utilize most of Aya’s PE powers (spells) outside of Haste and the healing powers.

-The equipment system was fun and interesting once I figured it out again. New equipment comes with special bonuses and using their modification feature, you can take bonuses from one piece of equipment to another. Generally you can only move one bonus per item (the item you take from gets destroyed afterwards) so there is a lot of risk/reward involved. I made a bad call by moving to what seemed like a better weapon at one point but the new weapon had a randomize bonus that didn’t allow me to pick my targets, so I had this cool gun but no way to utilize it effectively, which made combat harder for a bit.

*I love that the game isn’t bloated. There is no, “Hey the world is ending so instead of fixing that as the heroes, let’s raise chocobos and race them.” The game starts out with urgency and generally keeps up the intensity throughout.

*The final boss is a pain. There are four forms and they took all my healing items and most of my ammo (yes, ammunition is a consumable and you can run out leaving you to hit things with a police baton) on the three runs I beat it on. Yes, I said three runs. After “killing” the ultimate being, it starts crawling after Aya and you have to run through this ship to get to the engine room and then escape before it explodes. In the first room after the final fight there is a phone (which is a save point in the game) and I tried to save there. The save system is disabled though and this gave the crawling ultimate being time to catch up to me and kill me. The second time my analog stick wasn’t working properly and Aya stopped running in the final corridor. I’m not sure if the ultimate being got me or a timer ran out but I got a game over three steps from the exit. And then finally I was able to escape.

*Anyway I think the game is a 5/5. After running it through my ranking matrix, it ends up at #16 on my all-time rankings ahead of Burnout Paradise (#17) and below Gears of War 3 (#15).

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