Despite it's issues, Parasite Eve is a unique game, and a forgotten classic.

User Rating: 8.5 | Parasite Eve PS

A lot of Squaresoft games didn't see a European release back in the 90's and early 2000's. The classic examples to this are obviously games like Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross and Xenogears. Among them too, is Parasite Eve. It's weird why it never made it to Europe, as its sequel and the more recent "The 3rd Birthday", were both released in Europe. Of course that doesn't stop me from trying to get my hands on it, and thanks to Playstation Store returning just last week, I finally got the chance to play this "forgotten" classic, as it's been known for the past decade. The game is based on a book by the same, which was published in Japan in 1995, and saw its English debut 10 years later.

Story
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The story takes place on Christmas Eve 1997, and is spread over 6 days. NYPD Officer Aya Brea is going out to enjoy a night of Opera. It doesn't end well however, as people around her are mysteriously set on fire, supposedly all by the hand of the leading female actress Melissa, or Eve as she's now called. Bringing back some familiar memories, and hinting at a relation to Aya, she tries her best to stop Melissa from killing more people.

The story is interesting. There's a great deal of mystery surrounding Eve and her relations to Aya keeps things interesting enough for people to want to play the game through. Once they start explaining what's going on, and why, introducing mitochondria is being introduced, the game can get confusing. It's a good explanation and does make the current events believable; it can just be a bit complicated for some people, mainly due to the use of many scientific terms being used. If you can follow it, it'll all make sense, but if you can't, then you'll just be sitting back, being confused. It's still a good story, with some good, cinematic events, which is rare to see on PS1, with the exception of MGS1. The translation is actually pretty good too, though it may have to do with the fact that the game was developed in America and Japan.

8.5

Gameplay
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The gameplay itself is rather unique. It blends the survival horror gameplay seen in Resident Evil, and mixes it with elements from Final Fantasy. As in Resident Evil, weapons consist of handguns, rifles, your usual suspects, though shotguns oddly enough don't make their appearance. Exploring works pretty much like in Resident Evil. Also from RE, the game sometimes has a spooky atmosphere, though also like RE, it disappears the further you get into the game.

Final Fantasy for... well everything else. Combat works pretty much like random encounters and for each battle you finish, you gain experience points for making Aya stronger. Magic is also included, named Parasite Energy (PE), and can be used for healing, status effects and all that lovely stuff we've been doing in Final Fantasy. Combat itself is almost turn based. I say almost, because it kind of isn't. You have to wait for your AT bar to fill up, before you can make a move. During that though, movement is more or less free, which enables you to evade attacks. While the system works fine for the most part, it's not without its issues.

While you are allowed to more or less run around to evade enemies, your movement is limited by your environments, and the screen the fight takes place in. This mean that there's moments where technically you could move, but can't because the game wants the fight to stay in that screen, and puts up invisible walls. It's even more annoying when you have to fight in tight spaces, and don't have enough room to avoid the enemies attack. At least, the upside to this is that you can use PE to heal yourself, and it does regenerate during combat, so at least you're giving a chance.

The game does manage to fix some things from Resident Evil. Moving around isn't like controlling a tank, which makes evading things much easier. Though there are moments where you'll wish for a dodge system. If you don't have enough space you can always discard items, though you can't pick them up again. Annoying, but at least it's there. Even more annoying, items don't stack up (with the exception of ammo), so be prepared to have cases where you can't carry anymore medicine, because they don't stack up. At least, item capacity can be expanded. There's also a weapon modification system, though it's not necessary to get through the game. It's okay though, because it's kind of useless. It may create some stronger weapons and such, but I never had the use for it, and the game didn't really explain the system all that well anyway.

While the gameplay is fun, it does lack some variation. While it doesn't get boring, all you do in the game is run around, waiting for random encounters and moving on to the next screen. There aren't any puzzles, nor is there any moments where the gameplay and rules are changed. While it does lack that, it doesn't make the game repetitive or boring. I guess that's because it feels rewarding whenever I leveled up, which is always a good thing. It keeps the game from getting boring, at least to me anyway.

Despite being spread onto 2 discs, the game should take around 8-10 hours to finish. I guess all the disc space is used on the many CG cut-scenes that the game uses an awful lot. When completed, EX mode is unlocked, which opens up the Chrysler Building challenge, where you can get the real ending. Beyond that though, there isn't a lot to do. There is one area that doesn't have anything to do with the story, but otherwise, there's nothing else to go back for.

8.0

Graphics
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What makes the game odd to look at, is that it looks like Final Fantasy. The character animations look a bit more realistic this time around, but it defiantly looks like Final Fantasy, same with the character designs. The enemy design looks pretty good though, and it runs well enough without any issues. There is a bunch of CG cut-scenes and they all look good. At least in the PS1 era.

9.0

Sound
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Despite the game being on two discs, it doesn't have any voice acting, surprisingly. Square didn't use voice acting in their games, until Final Fantasy X, but in 1998, the majority of games had voice acting. Even Metal Gear Solid did. At least the music is good, helping create a dark and moody atmosphere. Though there are some tracks that can grow annoying.

7.0

Overall
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Despite its issues, the more I think about the game, the more I like it. The gameplay is unique, and the story is actually pretty intriguing. It is a forgotten classic, which deserved to get picked up, or downloaded. If you have get the chance to do so.