Before I get into PE, a note on format: I know these long entries can be a bit difficult to read, so to combat WOT syndrome, I've broken this one up into more manageable chunks. From now on I'll try to either do this, or break up my entries into shorter segments to make it easier on everyone. You may wonder why it didn't occur to me to do this from the beginning, but, uh...I was an English major. Having a ridiculously long attention span is pretty much the ONLY thing I have going for me. To me, these entries are tiny little articles, but I realize that I'm not normal.
And on Sunday, Aya Rested
In this room Aya reads Melissa's diary and finds a key she needs to progress...or would have, if my inventory hadn't been completely full of crappy items at the time. I had to dump an item and then re-read the whole diary. PE doesn't require as much tedious inventory management as some RPGs, but it definitely has it's moments.
Parasite Eve is split up into 6 days; This entry covers the remainder of Day 1. The Day format is interesting in and of itself because games usually don't tell you how much "in-game time" has passed for the characters in the story. PE takes a very different approach: You can spend 500 hours running around Central Park if you want to (and if for some God- forsaken reason you want to try the "300 pieces of Junk sidequest", you very well might find yourself doing just that), but you'll still be stuck in the second day of the story.
This may seem trivial, but typically in RPGs characters mature over some nebulous, but presumably substantial, period of time. In this game we know for a fact that Aya is dealing with a series of nightmarish scenarios that come at her one right after the other without allowing her a pause for breath. An understanding of the timeframe is essential to understanding Aya, who's desperation and anger are the hallmarks of a person under extreme stress rather than unforgivable character flaws. You'd be stressed out too, if you were in her shoes...well, actually you'd be dead, but you get the idea. You'd have cool shoes though.
Eve's mutated form: Still ambivalent about this. I think Eve might have been scarier if she just looked like a 'normal' Opera Singer. Of course, then we wouldn't get the cool contrast with Aya's evolved form....
Aya: Sewer Commando
I don't have a quip for this screenshot, so let's say that Aya doesn't even care that she's going to get her evening gown dirty while serving as a one-woman army against the mutated hordes, because she's just that awesome.
Without getting too bogged down in detail, the remainder of Day One involves searching the basement of Carnegie Hall for a key that will allow you to catch up with Melissa/Eve, who drops the Melissa persona entirely and mutates into a decidedly non- human form. Another RIDICULOUSLY EASY boss fight ensues with the freshly mutated Eve, which is so easy that even the fact that I was completely distracted by trying to get a good screenshot didn't seem to matter. It's possible that after playing this game on and off for ten years I've lost all objectivity in regard to it's difficulty, but I do have to say that Day One really does seem a tad too easy. It's one of those precious tutorial stages that refuses to level with you and admit that it's a tutorial.
Oh wow Eve, now you can shoot TWO puny laser beams instead of one! Taking this screenshot was about fifty times harder than the actual battle.
Aya and Eve continue their cat and mouse game, with Eve leading Aya into the sewers beneath Carnegie Hall. I thought I would have a lot more to say about the sewer area, because it's marvelously creepy and atmospheric, but gameplay-wise it's simple. You pick up a bunch of items (which I wouldn't be so quick to pick up considering they've been sitting IN THE SEWER for God knows how long, but Aya's braver than me), and fight some more mutated rats and mutated frogs. Interestingly, while the rats only mutated to three or four times their original size, the frogs are about the size of a Hummer. You just can't predict those wacky mitochondrial mutations.
The Comrade Strategem: Let's be Friends and Kill the Rest of Humanity!
Finally Aya catches up to Eve and the two of them have a fairly civil conversation at gunpoint, because Aya's little handgun is her safety blanket. Eve leaves, but not before uttering a line which I've always been impressed with: "I'm going to give you some time... some time to think and some time to evolve." Eve wants Aya on her side, but she wants Aya to realize herself that she belongs with Eve. She will abandon this idea eventually in favor of a more aggressive approach, but it's interesting that she even tries.
It's also really nice from a logical perspective that you don't have to spend the entire game wondering why Eve doesn't just kill Aya already if she's just so damned powerful. The "the villian tests the hero in order to recruit them" idea isn't exactly ground-breaking, but I still like it a helluva lot better than the more common "the villian doesn't kill the hero when they have the chance because apparently, they just can't be bothered."
At this point, Aya has just learned the spell "Scan", which isn't a helluva lot of use in this situation...or ever. I suppose I can't blame her for sticking with her trusty handgun. Better spells coming soon.
Let's see...gritty atmosphere, check. Massive death toll, check. Sewers, check. Hot chick with a gun, check. Now, this would be just like Resident Evil 2 if only there was a bloodthirsty ALLIGATOR in the sewers! How cool would that be? Fortunately, Eve hooks us up. We love her.
Sewer + Alligators= Nifty Boss Fights
Unfortunately, there is no cool "Shoot the gas canister for a 1-hit-kill" option. In fairness, we've already lit Carnegie Hall on fire and we have not even BEGUN to blow shit up in this game
Finally we get to the first real boss fight of the game, which still isn't difficult but you could conceivably lose if you're distracted. Or busy with your tax return. Or not paying any attention whatsoever. Still, the mutated Alligator has powerful attacks, and you need to take advantage of Aya's mobility to keep her out of harm's way (More on the free-movement combat system next time.)
This is a good example of the battle terrain in PE: It gives you just enough freedom to make you think that you can dodge all of the attacks, even though you really can't. It's fun trying, though.
Our Heroes in PE Are Invariably Violent Sociopaths: Daniel Arrives
Day One ends with the introduction of Aya's partner, Daniel, a 30-something cop with a more than superficial resemblance to Final Fantasy VII's Barret Wallace. Daniel rescues Aya from a persistent reporter by punching him in the face, which is the type of behavior that I guess Japanese game developers expect from hard-boiled NYC cops. As the two of them speed off in the squad car, Daniel gives Aya a backhanded compliment-- apparently, showing up at the scene of mass murder is a good indicator of latent "cop instinct"-- and we get a feel for their father-daughter dynamic. Later we will learn that Aya is the brains of this operation while Daniel is the hothead, and considering that Aya's approach to problem solving ideally involves a rocket launcher, that should tell you something about the volatility of this outfit. Really, Eve's lucky that these two didn't torch the city in the course of a botched investigation long before she got around to it.
This screen marks the beginning of the subplot about Daniel's neglected son, Ben. Unlike a lot of games that force dialogue like this on you in order to create the illusion of character depth, PE actually makes good use of this subplot later.
Next in PE, we begin Day 2 and unfortunately Aya ditches her evening gown for a more practical ensemble. On the plus side, we get a cool new gun and Aya's PE powers evolve to the point where her spells are almost useful.
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