Title: 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
Available on: PlayStation 4
Genre: Adventure, Real-Time Strategy
Official Site: https://www.devolverdigital.com
If there’s one thing to be said of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, it’s that it is one of the unique games of the year. Despite the plot being nigh-on confusing, the game retains the ability to hook you in while simultaneously providing solid gameplay. It’s not an experience you’ll forget. A lot is going on in this game – but why is it worth your time? Read our 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim Review below!
13 Sentinels and the Art of Adventure
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is divided into three core modes – Remembrance, Destruction, and Analysis. But let’s be real; these are just fancy words for ‘Adventure,’ ‘Real-Time Strategy,’ and ‘Universe Lore,’ respectively. You’ll spend your time in the game switching between the three modes as you progress.
The Remembrance mode has you take control of 13 anime-esque high school protagonists. The gameplay in these sections is something of a mixture of classic Adventure games and modern-day visual novels. You control the protagonist through their seemingly-normal lives, interacting with other characters, and going from location-to-location. When you talk to other characters, you’ll often retrieve a ‘keyword,’ which you use as segues into other conversation topics. While some topics lead to dead ends, others move the plot forward.
Speaking of the plot, many might call it ‘science fiction,’ but it’s better described as ‘confusing.’ As you might have already noticed, this game has big-ass robots as a core part of its narrative. As you go deeper through each characters’ unique story, we start to realize that there’s more to these seemingly innocent high-schoolers than meets the eye. There’s twists and turns aplenty, but, at first, it’d be understandable that you’d find the overall plot confusing. It’s only as you start progressing 50% through a few of the characters’ stories that a few things click together, and it starts becoming really compelling. The confusion is there initially because the in-game timeline is all over the place, with the central plot utilizing time travel mechanics.
The only thing that makes up for the confusion is the charming nature of the characters. From Juro Karabe, the cute film nerd, to Shu Amaguchi, the pretty boy ladies’ man, 13 Sentinels has some truly endearing and memorable personalities. This is helped by the great English dub, with the actors truly owning their roles and breathing life into these beautiful drawings. Side-note: A big shout-out to whoever decided on Nenji Ogata’s Elvis-esque hairdo!
RTS in 13 Sentinels
When you’re not adventuring in 13 Sentinels, you are playing RTS sections. In these sections, appropriately titled ‘Destruction,’ you take control of the titular Sentinels, large battling robots. In these sections, your goal is to defend the ‘Aegis’ City Defense System from being destroyed by your archenemies, the Deimos. You can win by either taking out all enemy units or holding off the waves until the time limit runs out. You lose if one of your Sentinel pilots dies or if the Deimos destroy the Aegis system.
The action in these sections is simple. You control six Sentinel pilots – the heroes from the Adventure story – and move around a city’s grid-like area. You then use your Sentinels’ abilities to destroy the Deimos and win the day. The abilities in question range from Arm-Mounted Cannons and Multi-Lock Missiles. Each ability costs a certain number of EP, which depletes in your unit after its every use. To refill your lost EP, you are forced to ‘Defend’ for a certain amount of time until those abilities become available once more.
These RTS sections are a delight and become increasingly addictive. There is something undeniably satisfying about pelting a large group of enemies full of multi-targeting missiles. There is also much satisfaction gained from strategizing and making the most of each Sentinel’s abilities to win a stage. Some sentinels come with ‘EMP’ abilities, for instance, which allow you to bring flying enemies to the ground, allowing melee sentinels to take them out. The gameplay is easy to pick up, which is great for players new to the genre.
While there’s fun in the gameplay’s simplicity, those looking for a deep RTS may be disappointed. While you are given the option of customizing the Sentinels via earned points during battles, it’s not in-depth. There are different types of Sentinels, but most have vaguely the same abilities, the only difference being their stat difference, i.e., ATK and DEF. You’ll see the same range of missile and arm-cannon abilities among one lot of Sentinels, the same range of close-quarters combat abilities in the other. That said, the simplicity may be inviting for players not wanting to bore themselves over hours of customization.
Customization points aren’t the only things earned during a battle (or for completing parts of the story). The others are ‘Mystery Points.’ Said points can be used to unlock files in the game’s ‘Analysis mode,’ which expands the game world’s lore and explains things you might’ve missed in the story. But the mode really adds nothing of value to the game’s overall narrative. The only advantage it offers if you need a refresher on the characters and plot elements after a long time away from the game. You are also forced to spend some points here to progress through certain characters’ stories. But it’s all just extra text to read and highly dull when it comes down to it.
All in All
I had a great time with 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim Review. Although initially confusing, its plot and characters are intriguing. The RTS battles are a cacophony of intense fun. My big complaint is that the opening tutorial sections need the patience to sit through since they are slow and tedious. The game could have done by giving the player the option to skip these altogether. I’d go so far as to say they undersell the game because the tutorial battles are so dull compared to the game proper, where the battles are constantly tense and exciting.
Also, as with many story-based games, the story can get tedious in some sections. It won’t be unusual for you to skip through some groan-inducing dialogue or uninteresting sci-fi dribble at some points. The story requires great patience because it is told confusingly and out of order. But for those who can stick with it, there’s a great mystery to uncover.
Verdict: 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim succeeds as both an addictively simple RTS romp with a compelling adventure story. However, fans of both genres may be disappointed by the lack of gameplay complexity on both fronts. Regardless, it’s a decent game and well worth a look.
How did you like our 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim Review? Let us know in the comments below!
- Addictive Real-Time Strategy Gameplay
- Intriguing Plot and memorable characters
- Interesting blend of genres
- RTS sections can be too simplistic for some
- Adventure sections are too easy
- Story can be confusing at first
- Tedious tutorial sections