13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a 2D side scrolling game with a combination of gameplay from genres such as real time strategy, role playing and visual novels. With a total of 13 protagonists, it is quite story heavy as you play as each character to unravel this sci-fi mystery.
However, it’s not as simple as picking one character and playing their story from start to finish and moving to the next. You can only progress so far in each character’s story until it intertwines with another, needing you to unlock the next step of game progression through another character.
The prologue/tutorial is quite long as it will introduce each of the characters in the story, as well as teaching you to fight with Sentinels on the battlefield. The battles are a bit few and far between, so it took a few rounds to remember everything I had learned. They were quite easy and forgiving during the start of the game but once you’ve progressed far enough, you will be able to set the difficulty higher if you are after a challenge. Personally, I kept the battle difficulty on casual (the easiest setting), as I was far more interested in getting back to the story. Some of the story mode does require you to complete battles in order to progress, so you can’t neglect them for too long.
Once you are in the full game, you can choose Destruction to battle, Remembrance to play the story mode and Analysis to review the information you have uncovered. Destruction will award you Mystery Points for you to unlock snippets of information in the Analysis section.
I’m about 8 hours into the game and completely intrigued by the story. Time travel, giant robots, aliens and perhaps a hint of romance are all coming into play as I scour each location and NPC for more information. I’m not sure I have a number one favourite character just yet, but I am partial to Juro, Iori, Shu and Tomi. There’s even a few pop culture references to classic movies, such as the aliens being likened to the Tripods from War of the Worlds, that roots the story in our reality but then teases alternate versions of the history we know, with conspiracies and secret weapons.
Before going into battle, you can set up your team, choosing which members you want to control, while the rest will act defensively. Sentinels can be customised and upgraded here as well, using points you have earned in previous battles. Some characters are more suited for close combat while others are long range, so it does matter who you pick as you want to have a balanced team to cover different types of enemies.
While there is definitely an anime look to the characters, what I love about the 2D animation is its painted style, giving each person and background beautiful texture and depth. There’s some breathtaking uses of colour that set the moods of each scene, from eerie blues that give off a spooky vibe and bright oranges that incite the feelings of chaos as a city burns. The artistic work is top notch and truly makes me enjoy wandering around each location.
The Switch version has not added any touch screen functionality to 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, but it does run great in handheld mode. You can save at any time, making this the perfect game for on your daily commute or relaxing at home.
Overall, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a really great combination of game genres, with a fantastic art style and engaging narrative. I definitely recommend you try it for yourself, especially if you are a fan of RTS and Visual Novel games.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is available now on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.