Parasite Eve review

alex9234’s Sunday Review

Well, here’s another Sunday game review from yours truly. This time I’m going to dive into one of Square’s lesser known but still respected franchises from their PS1 heyday. Have you ever wondered what Resident Evil and Star Ocean would look like if they got thrown together into a blender? Well, if you try that crazy combination, you get Parasite Eve, which came out on the PS1 in 1998 – the amazing Survival Horror & JRPG hybrid which was Square’s answer to Resident Evil 2.

The Plot

Parasite Eve takes place in New York City during the 1997 holiday season, and follows the story of NYPD rookie Aya Brea. The game starts off with Aya and her date attending an opera at Carnegie Hall on Christmas Eve. While watching the opera, one of the actors, Melissa Pierce, locks eyes with Aya, and then uses some sort of evil sorcery that lights the entire audience on fire, except for Aya and her date. When Aya confronts Melissa, she transforms into some sort of mutated creature called Mitochondria Eve, which is due to a mutated strain of sentient mitochondria which laid inside of Melissa’s kidney transplant. Aya then chases after the mutated Melissa, and when she confronts her, Melissa tells Aya that her mitochondria needs more time to develop, and then she declares herself to be Eve. Then on Christmas Day, Aya and her partner, Daniel Dollis, head to the American Museum of Natural History to meet with a scientist named Dr. Hans Klamp. Dr. Klamp tells them all about Mitochondria, but they find his information to be useless because it doesn’t explain the events that happened on Christmas Eve. Then, Aya and Daniel get called out to Central Park, as Eve has shown up once again. Aya goes in alone as Daniel is unable to go through without catching on fire. She then reaches Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre, where Eve causes the audience’s mitochondria to rebel against them and then she turns everyone into a mass of orange slime. Aya then chases after Eve again, but is knocked out cold after a fight against Eve on a horse drawn carriage.

Afterwards, New York City is being evacuated due to the massive threat of Eve. While the city is being evacuated, a Japanese man named Kunihiko Maeda sneaks into the city, and he witnesses a police officer catch on fire in the process. Aya then wakes up in an abandoned apartment in SoHo, and notices Daniel with Maeda. There, Maeda tells Aya about Eve’s origins – A scientist in Japan tried to culture the cells of his wife after she died in a car accident, and the mitochondria in her cells took over her body. He also tells Aya that Eve is trying to give birth to the “Ultimate Being” – a creature that has the potential to wipe out the human race. The three of them then visit Dr. Klamp at the museum, where he tells Aya that the nuclei in her cells are trying to fight off Eve’s Mitochondria. The trio then head to St. Francis Hospital, where Maeda believes Eve is heading to get the sperm required to give birth to the Ultimate Being. They arrive at the hospital, only to find out that they are too late, as Eve has grabbed the sperm, and flies off. The next day, Aya witnesses the orange slime mass of people from Central Park enter the city’s water supply. She then heads to the museum to track down Dr. Klamp, and she discovers that he was working together with Eve, and has created special sperm so that Eve can give birth to the Ultimate Being. He then catches on fire and dies. Can Aya stop this monster in time before it takes all of humanity down with it?

The Gameplay

Parasite Eve’s gameplay is JRPG based with survival horror elements mixed in. Enemy encounters are random, and it also carries over the Metroidvania elements from the early Resident Evil games, such as exploration, unlocking new areas, and save points. Whenever you walk into a so-called “Hot Spot” in dungeons, your chances of a random enemy encounter increases. Like in the Tales and Star Ocean games, you can move Aya across the screen during battles to try and dodge enemy attacks and projectiles. The game also uses the Active Time Battle system used in past Final Fantasy games that sets the time that must be waited until the player can make their next action. You can attack with your equipped weapon, use Parasite Energy (PE) to cast healing or attack spells, or use items to heal yourself.

You get to use the World Map to explore different areas of New York City, either to find out where you have to go next, or stop in a safe area to save your game or customize your weapons and armor. Moving on to weapons and armor customization now – While not in battle, you have the ability to customize your weapons and armor with tools and super-tools. You do this by selecting the “tune-up” option, and you get to choose the weapon or armor that gets altered as well as the weapon or armor from which the effects and abilities will be taken from. Whenever you level up, you get Bonus Points (BP), which you can use to upgrade your armor or weapons, increase your item capacity, or distribute them to the ATB to give you a better advantage in battles.

The Characters

Aya Brea – Age: 25 – The main character of Parasite Eve. She is biracial – her father was an American and her mother immigrated to the U.S. from Japan. She studied Criminology at the University of Virginia and then joined the NYPD, eventually being promoted to the rank of Detective. She has been granted great power from her dead sister Maya, as her mitochondria was transplanted into Aya during a corneal transplant. Aya is portrayed as strong-willed, and very intelligent. She is meek in her nature and does not brag to other about being a hero or possessing superhuman powers and abilities. Aya has a mature personality, but she is also very cold and sarcastic.

Daniel Dollis – Age: 42 – Daniel is a veteran detective from the NYPD’s 17th Precinct, and is Aya’s partner. He also has a son named Ben, but had a divorce prior to the events of the game, where he had won custody of Ben. Although he isn’t always around to spend time with his son due to his job as a police officer, he has a strong paternal sense, and is very protective of Aya and his son. He serves as a supporting role for Aya, giving her encouraging messages of experience and advice while he copes with the terms of his divorce.

Kunihiko Maeda – Age: 35 – Maeda is a Japanese scientist who has a devoted interest in studying mitochondria and the original Eve. He also dislikes the ways of science, and claims that he won’t believe in any theories without “proper evidence.” He is very shy and polite, and has a hard time communicating with others. He has trouble speaking English, as he is not as fluent in the language as he is in his home country’s language. He often provides Aya with good luck charms which often serve no purpose in the game.

Melissa Pierce – Age: 32 – Melissa, also known as Mitochondria Eve, is the villain of Parasite Eve. Before she became Eve, she was an actress and opera singer. While performing at the opera at Carnegie Hall on Christmas Eve, her mitochondria strongly reacted to Aya’s, and caused her mitochondria to take over her body and transform into Eve.

My Thoughts

When I first got a PS1 and was busy checking out Square’s output from that era, like Final Fantasy VII, I stumbled across this game at a retro game store in my area. I decided to check it out since I noticed that it was also another Square game, and I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed playing this game when I first got it and I still enjoy playing it today. I really like how Square mixed in the Resident Evil style elements of survival horror with JRPG elements- it works very well. The Metroidvania elements such as exploration and save points are also well implemented into the game as well. The gameplay is really good, and it reminds me of playing a Tales game or Star Ocean 3, as I am able to dodge enemy attacks and move around the battle area. The graphics are also surprisingly good for an early PS1 game. I like the weapon and armor customization system that this game has, as well as the BP that can be used to upgrade weapon and armor abilities, increase item capacity, and use to alter the ATB system to help you get more turns quicker. The story is excellent and gripping, and the cast of characters are all excellent too. However, it is not without flaws. The camera angles are not very good, Aya does not move very fast, the bosses will sometimes cheat and troll you, and there are a lot of cheap deaths. Also, the load times can be quite long.

Overall, this is still a very good Square JRPG and survival horror game, and if you have a PS1, and if you are a fan of Resident Evil, Square JRPGs, or both, then you should check this out. It’s well worth your time.

My score: 9/10


Published by alex9234

A skeptical game writer who doesn't believe the gaming press.

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