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May 2022

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
Genre: Action
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Vanillaware
Release Date: April 12, 2022


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Switch Preview - '13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on March 29, 2022 @ 7:00 a.m. PDT

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a 2D sci-fi video game that takes place in a modern setting punctuated with giant mechs.

Pre-order 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

A weird and confusing mix of visual novel and real-time strategy, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is the definition of a cult classic. It was released for the PS4 to positive reviews, but its very nature makes it difficult to pick up and play. That is what makes the Nintendo Switch release such an exciting concept. It sounds like a match made in heaven: a lengthy and wordy visual novel with beautiful graphics in convenient handheld format. We got some hands-on time with the Switch version, and it left us excited for more.

The premise of 13 Sentinels is convoluted as heck, but it can be difficult to sum up without spoilers. The basic idea is that humanity is under attack by giant monsters. The only thing that can stop the monsters is a group of plucky teenagers in giant robots. Where it gets complex is that the robot part is actually not the most important part of the story. Instead, it is a mystery story revolving around a group of protagonists from wildly different worlds. The opening veers between 1940s Japan, the present day, and the distant future, and it only gets more complex from there.

The bulk of your time in the game is spent in the mystery mode, where you move your chosen character around while trying to collect information and solve mysteries. The characters' stories are intertwined, and you might be blocked in progression in one story until you figure out things in another. Instead of collecting items, you collect thoughts, which can be used like inventory items to elicit responses or solve puzzles.

The other part of the game involves giant mecha battles, and perhaps oddly enough, these are presented in the opposite of Vanillaware's usual style. You're given an overhead wireframe-style "combat view" of the battlefield and watch fights go off in real time. The goal is to move and position units to defend the areas they are assigned to protect against truly overwhelming numbers of giant monsters. Each unit has absurdly powerful weapons or defenses that destroy hundreds of foes with a single shot.

The Switch release of 13 Sentinels looks to be very much on part with the original version of the game. There are a small handful of new weapons announced for the mecha segments, but don't expect any significant plot changes. This is 13 Sentinels in its standard glory, complete with handheld capabilities that are ideal for the visual novel-style story. I was worried that the fiddly combat scenes could be overwhelming on a big screen, but they worked well in handheld format during our preview period.

Overall, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim looks to be a very reliable port of the original release. We only got a bit of hands-on time with it, but what we've seen so far looks like it sticks to the high standards set by the original release. It's basically the same game but portable, and that is all it needs to be. We'll be sure to check it out when the game comes out on Apr. 12.

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