Intro: 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim follows thirteen characters trying unravel the truth behind a kaiju apocalypse bearing down upon their world. If you’re interested in playing Sentinels, I’d recommend either skipping straight to my spoiler-free final thoughts down below or coming back to this after you’ve played it. Sentinels is best enjoyed without knowing too much.
SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE GAME
Aegis System – The terminal’s internal defense system. It erects a shield around the area during battle.
Compatibles – People whose biometric IDs allow them to connect to the mainframe, giving them the ability to use their Sentinels. Compatibles are revealed to be clones of those who donated their DNA to Project Ark.
D-Force – The Deimos aka the Kaiju. The D-Force attacks the terminals, which have a connection to the mainframe. If the Deimos succeed in destroying the terminals, they will effectively wipe out the city.
Looping – Resetting the simulation.
Nanomachines – An advanced technology created by Professor Morimura of Newmen Inc. that binds to a person’s brain. Separation from the brain results in irreparable damage, memory loss and death.
Operation Aegis – A drastic, last ditch effort to save humanity by locking down all of the terminals.
Project Ark – A plan to save humanity from extinction after the nanomachine virus wiped out humanity. The main characters are clones of the scientists who took part in this plan.
Sectors – There are 5 sectors, each 40 “years” apart. Sectors can be thought of as different eras, when in actuality they’re simulated worlds created by Shikishima Industries as part of Project Ark. (Sector 0 is a separate place where one can backup data and escape loops and memory loss.)
Sentinels – Giant mechs the characters pilot to fight the Deimos. It’s revealed that the sentinels are really life-support pods and that the pilots are living through a simulation.
Shift – Jumping between Sectors.
The Beginning of the End
*If anything’s incorrect please let me know! Piecing together everything was a lot of fun but I’ve no doubt there might be inaccuracies as the logs were a little confusing for me. I tried to keep only the most important details in this summary.
The crusty old chairman of Shikishima Industries, Kengo Ogata, has one foot in the grave when he discovers a second chance at life. He teams up with a researcher named Professor Morimura, who’s currently working on a project dubbed Project Ark. The goal of this project is to populate new planets, and Kengo believes he has a shot at living on one if her project succeeds. He backs up his data and turns it into an AI, then dies shortly afterward.
Professor Morimura’s company is bought by Renya Gouto, the current CEO of Shikishima Industries. Of course, nothing goes smoothly. Renya thought it would be a great idea to launder money through their merger. He demands that Project Ark be shut down, but Kengo’s AI refuses to let this happen. He orders Professor Morimura to sell her nanotech on the black-market.
Professor Morimura’s company gets into huge trouble when their nanotech are discovered on the black-market. When the finally feds get involved, Reyna is like
because his ass is burnt toast when his embezzlement is discovered, and he yeets himself into outer space. He then hires an assassin named Sekigahara Ei to get rid of Professor Morimura. The nanotech she sold on the black-market goes haywire, resulting in a nanomachine virus that sweeps the globe. There’s no cure. Only fifteen people manage to escape Earth and they seek refuge on a space colony. It is on this colony that they try to complete Project Ark.
But how is Project Ark going to save anyone? At the end of the game, we finally learn what the project’s true plans entail: the clones of the scientists had been gestating inside of pods (the Sentinels), learning about humanity’s culture and history via a simulation created by Tsukasa Okino. After the clones had learned all they needed, they would be released onto a new planet and continue the human race.
Well, that was the plan at least. Sekigahara eventually learns that Professor Morimura caused the nanomachine virus and in a rage, he kills her and bombs the power generator. This pits the entire team against each other as they struggle to agree their priorities: their survival, or Project Ark’s completion. One of the women, Shinonome Ryoko, also discovers that Tetsuya Ida had been using her. She decides that people are all inherently selfish and they deserve to die out. So she messes up Okino’s code and screws humanity’s last chance at survival. Thanks, lady. Things turn violent and there goes the last of mankind…
Since Ryoko ruined Okino’s code, the Deimos in the simulation will always triumph against the clones and destroy their sector. As such, the characters have resorted to escaping death by shifting to the other sectors, which take the form of different eras. Professor Morimura loses all hope and believes it might be for the best that they enact Operation Aegis. Operation Aegis will prevent anyone from looping, effectively trapping everyone in a ruined sector forever. In strict opposition to her plans is Tetsuya Ida, who wants to start another loop for his own selfish machinations. So the entirety of 13 Sentinels boils down to one last race against time to defeat the Deimos, escape the pods and prevent the extinction of the human race.
Sentinels consists of 3 modes:
Remembrance – This is the main story. There’s no recommended route-order for the characters, as the game locks off certain parts of their story to prevent any spoilers. In order to progress you must complete tasks, such as winning a certain number of battles in Destruction, or advancing someone else’s story.
During Remembrance, you experience the narrative in a style similar to point-and-click games. The character can interact with others and items with the triangle button.
Despite boasting a rather large roster of characters, all of them are easy to keep track of. Each of them are unique and memorable in their own ways, and I had a difficult time deciding who I liked most. My personal favorites include Nenji, Kisaragi, Takatoshi, Tsukasa and best girl Miwako. She must be protected at all costs!
Destruction – Is the gameplay, or battles against the Deimos. Battles are carried out in RTS and look scarier than they actually are. I initially panicked because of just how much was happening on-screen, but the game explains its system well and the fights end up being much easier than I expected them to be. There are a few trophy-related battles, but all of them are a piece of cake to obtain. However, I didn’t play on any of the harder difficulties so this may be a different experience for someone else.
In Destruction, you send out a team of pilots with which to battle the Deimos and defend your sector. The game will tell you what sort of enemies you can expect to appear on the selection screen, allowing you to choose the best pilots to fight with. You can also try to fulfill extra conditions to earn more points. Points earned in battle, called Meta Chips, are what you use to upgrade your character’s Sentinel.
Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses, and some are better suited to certain playstyles than others. Iori Fuyusaka, for instance, is best used as a support unit. Her ability, Sentry Gun, allows her to place turrets around the map which will fire on any enemy in range. I used this ability each chance I got, while employing the more heavy hitters (Nenji Ogata) to rush into battle.
Analysis- Is where you’ll be spending a lot of time trying to piece together the game’s story. Included in Analysis is the Event Archive and the Mystery Files. The Event Archive fills out as you progress through Remembrance, weaving together a timeline for you to check your understanding of the plot. The option to replay these scenes helped immensely. You can also spend mystery points to unlock new terms in the Mystery Files section.
Considering just how many there are, I’m not going to be discussing all of them. My carpal-tunnel wrists can’t take it right now and experiencing their stories on their own is a huge treat. Instead, I’ll briefly talk about some of my favorites. I loved them all, so selecting only a few for this section was difficult. If you want to talk about the characters in the comments, feel free! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Spoilers are welcome.
Josuke Higashikata Nenji Ogata (Tomokazu Seki) –
Is a prickly rich kid whose dad is the chairman of Shikishima Industries. He takes pride in his pompadour and loves Kamen Rider. He’s constantly getting into fights with another gang and trying to keep his cool around Kisaragi, who he totally does not have a crush on. Nenji is one of the best fighters in Destruction and I used him and Takatoshi a lot during the later-game fights. I really enjoyed his story, which was a essentially a fatal Groundhog Day scenario, culminating in him plucking up the courage to confess (more than once) to Kisaragi. While not the brightest tool in the shed, I liked how he was forced to get creative. He’s a chill dude and compassionate to those around him.
Tomi Kisaragi (Mao Ichimichi)–
Goes by the nickname, Usami. She used to sing and posted her videos online under the name Inaba Rabbit. She travelled to the past with Renya because their previous world had been destroyed by Kaiju. Kisaragi wants to blackmail the company so they’ll let her go back to see her parents. Luckily for her, she gets her wish almost immediately and is zapped back to 2025 — together with Miwako and Nenji. The game really threw me for a loop (pun not intended) with her. I kept expecting one thing and got another instead, chock-full of androids and time-travel. I used her primarily as a long-range attacker due to her arsenal of missile attacks.
Minami Natsuno (Kaoru Sakura)–
Natsuno is on the track team and wants to work for NASA to prove the existence of aliens. She comes across a Wall-E robot stowed away in the hamper of the girls’ locker room, which has the hilarious misfortune of being called BJ. BJ transports her 80 years into the future to witness the end of her world. This kickstarts her journey into discovering just what the aliens she’s so fascinated by truly are. I adored her fun personality. Her innocent romance with Miura was a delight to see unfold too. She seems to be a fan-favorite, considering she has a figure available for purchase.
Takatoshi Hijiyama (Takayuki Ishii)–
Loves his precious yakisoba pan almost as much as he loves Okino. He’s a grumpy tsundere who joins the military together with Miura to beat the Americans. He chases after Okino into another sector, where he learns that everything he thought he knew was a lie. While not the most mobile of pilots, he makes up for it in sheer power. I really appreciated how the game handled LGBTQ+ representation with his story. His romance subplot was just as important as the others, and I thought the representation was done right. I also loved Okino and thought their relationship was one of the strongest in the entire game.
Final Thoughts (Spoiler Free)
I had no idea what to expect when I first saw 13 Sentinels being advertised during Black Friday last year. The few reviews that out at the time all enthusiastically praised its masterful storytelling, but refrained from talking about the story because it would spoil everything, and that intrigued me enough to pick it up. I’m so glad I went into this title blind. I was consistently blown away by every plot twist and consistently impressed by the strong writing and character development.
System: You play through three modes: Remembrance, Destruction and Analysis. As you progress through Remembrance (story), you can unlock new terms to view in Analysis. Destruction (battle) is where you fight against enemies. Points are earned from your battles based on certain criteria, which can be spent in Analysis or used to progress Remembrance. It’s extremely effective and I thoroughly enjoyed how the game used these modes to tell its story. Chef’s kiss ~
Localization: I played this in Japanese with English subtitles. An English dub is included as a patch. The dub was made during quarantine, which is really impressive. It’s a good dub (if you don’t mind the pronunciation of Japanese names) and worth checking out if you’re interested. As I’m actively learning Japanese, I went with subs and was able to pick up a lot of new vocabulary in the process.
Hours: 13 Sentinels isn’t a very long game and the platinum trophy is easy to obtain. I completed it in 37 hours.
Art: The art in this game is simply stunning. I’ve never played a Vanillaware game before, but if their other games are even half as pretty as Sentinels is, I want to play them all. My copy of the game came with a small artbook. I’m not sure if this is still included.
Music: Every track is really great and I loved the final boss track. The one I included is from the start menu and a small taste of what to expect throughout.
Overall, I loved everything about this game and can’t wait to replay it someday. Even if you’re primarily a fan of otome games, I still highly recommend 13 Sentinels. The game feels right at home for people who enjoy visual novels, romance plays a big role in the story and all the couples are worth rooting for. There’s even fantastic LGBTQ+ representation. I personally haven’t played many sci-fi visual novels before, so I’m not sure how it compares to other titles in this genre. There’s a lot of references to pop culture sprinkled throughout (War of the Worlds, Madoka Magica) which made getting into this story a lot easier.
I’d love to pick up the manga anthologies eventually. If I do, I’ll probably review or summarize them. Anyway, this was a fantastic start to 2021. I’m so glad I gave this game a chance. You can pick up a copy of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim on amazon.
What did you think of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim? Who were your favorite characters?
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