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  1. #1

    [PS4] 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim Prologue

    I was pretty psyched up for this one, I mean, Vanillaware and giant robots? Sign me up! Only for Vanillaware and Atlus to hide the demo behind a pay wall, and the cheapest is a roughly 2000yen digital pack with the demo, digital artwork, and PS4 theme.

    But I did cough up those yen and after downloading around 2GB, I'm here playing the Prologue to 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim.

    And...well, it has completely defied my expectations. Not for the art direction, we're talking about a Vanillaware game here, but for its structure: 13 Sentinels is a point-and-click adventure game, at least in the Prologue, with you controlling directly a character and moving him or her to the next active spot to interact with it and progress to the story.
    Well, in fact, this is even less than a point-and-click adventure, at least in those you had to solve puzzles to progress, here you just need to walk to a location and press circle to start a new sequence. It's the bare minimum of a game, and it's only a step above visual novels in interaction because you need to move your character around and not simply witness a wall of text.
    I don't want to say this but this the idea that David Cage has of a game, only that he puts QTEs in his...things (I can't really call Cage's productions games, sorry)...while in 13 Sentinels you're just a passive spectator of events that unfold in front of your characters. The only interactions are walking around, interacting with objects or other characters, and hit the triangle button to see what your character is thinking about something.
    I truly wasn't expecting this. Yes I know Vanillaware is more than just their more recent action games, but as a game 13 Sentinels fails, it's just pressing buttons to progress through a very pretty cutscene. Now, I've only played through a third of the Prologue and things might get more "interacty" as the story goes on, not to mention this is not the final game, but well, colour me disappointed.

    Kinda.

    The Prologue features 13 characters, each starring in a 10 to 20 minutes long segment introducing them and the story. The Prologue starts with you controlling an high school guy in 1985. After him you unlock three other character, and so I choose a girl. Again, her story is in 1985, only that the classroom looks different. The third guy, whom you saw with the first character, starts as an astronaut. Oh Wow. And then the game goes back to 1944. With the same character. Oh, not only giant robots abut also time travel? OK, this interesting.
    No matter how little of a game there is in 13 Sentinels (or at all, depending of your definition of videogame), the story is interesting. The bite-sized introduction really keep you guessing and make you wish for more, plus the art direction is absolutely wonderful. It controls alright (again, for how little control you have) and my first comment about not being able to run while moving quickly evaporated as locations turned out to be small and perfectly sized for your movement speed. Dialogues get straight to the point, a huge thing for me, and so far all characters have kept an excellent pacing in showing you the story.

    So, 13 Sentinels might not be the game I was expecting, but at least the story looks good.

    I've also took a video, but I messed up the audio mixing so I need to re-render it. Will be ready tomorrow.

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    Final impressions on the Prologue demo later.

  5. #5
    So, I said I would write some final thoughts on this Prologue demo, but in reality there's not that much to say in addition to what I've already written.

    The Prologue demo is a visual novel, no more no less. There are no QTEs, no multiple-choice dialogues, no puzzles to solve. You simply need to find the next active spot and then dialogues will ensue; at times you need to hit triangle to rear what the character you're controlling thinks, and other you need to hit triangle, select the correct thought and deliver an item to another character.
    I don't really consider this structure worthy to be called "game", so the only things left to speak about 13 Sentinels are how the story develops, its pacing, and how good it's written.

    And I can't hinde that the story has me very interested, the whole time-travel thing seems well structured, with different starting points, twists, and non-linear storytelling keeping interest high; the structure reminds me of Odin Sphere, only brought to the extreme with many more characters and even more intertwinment.
    The pacing is good, dialogues get straight to the point and they are never too long between interactions, although I did feel a bit bored at times, especially when I had to interact with the game to get the story going...which is kinda ridicolous not wanting to interact with 13 Sentinels when you have a pad in hand.
    I can't go into detail on how well the story is written due to the language barrier and that I've only see a glimpse of it (although I don't expect the whole game being longer than 10 hours), but considering what I've seen, I won't be disappointed.

    I will get the complete game when it comes out in the west despite being very critical of its lack of interaction and general distaste of "passive" visual novels (I consider Phoenix Wright and the like "active" novels). I think 13 Sentinels will get a lot of criticism from people that were expecting Vanillaware to deliver yet another action game though.

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