The 3rd Birthday
|The 3rd Birthday|
|Developer(s)||Square Enix 1st Production Department
|Release date(s)||JP December 22, 2010
Survival horror 
|Distribution||UMD, Digital download|
The 3rd Birthday (ザ・サード バースデイ Za Sādo Bāsudei?) is a third-person role-playing shooter developed by HexaDrive and published by Square Enix. The game was made for the PlayStation Portable and is the third game in the Parasite Eve series. The game was released on December 22, 2010 in Japan and March 29, 2011 in North America.
The game takes place in Manhattan, New York City ten years after the events of Parasite Eve II. The player takes on the role of Aya Brea, and must fight against mysterious "Twisted" creatures threatening the city.
The game is an action role-playing game described by Square Enix as a "cinematic action RPG". Director Hajime Tabata noted that the gameplay and plot are intertwined due to a newly introduced ability called "Overdive," an ability that lets the player switch bodies with one of their team members, allowing them to control friendly NPCs. Teammates can be ordered either to target specific enemies or to defend themselves in combat. The player is able change their controlled character in real-time, intermixed with their combat actions. The game is played over-the-shoulder, comparable to games such as Resident Evil 4, Dead Space and the Mass Effect series. An array of different costumes will be available for Aya to choose from throughout the game, but only after they are unlocked by completing the game in various difficulty modes. Clothing in the game deteriorates due to battle damage, revealing Aya's skin to various degrees.
On Christmas Eve of 2012, a swarm of hideous organic structures—later dubbed as the "Babels"—suddenly burst from under Manhattan, killing several people and destroying much of the city in the process. The Babels' plant-like roots bring with them coiled life-forms, called the "Twisted", that actively attack and seemingly consume humans. Within a year of the attack, an investigatory team known as the CTI (Counter Twisted Investigation) is formed. One of the CTI members is Aya Brea, who was found lying blood-soaked in a wedding dress outside St. Thomson's Cathedral in 2010, just before the Babels and Twisted began appearing. Dr. Hyde Bohr, Chief of the CTI, found Aya stripped of her memories from the years before. Apart from her memories, her personality has also mysteriously changed.
After taking Aya in, the CTI discovered that she was capable of transferring her soul from body to body, an ability dubbed "Overdive". Bohr and the others planned to use this unique ability to travel back through time and prevent the disaster. They developed a machine called "Overdive System", which makes use of Aya's ability and can send her in the past to take control of someone else's psyche and therefore their actions. The machine was completed in 2013 and utilized 2 years after the Twisted first appeared. As she completes her first mission, Aya realizes that she can indeed change the past to affect the future. She wakes up to find that certain key events pre-dive did not occur while new events developed post-dive. For example, Gabrielle, who died in a training incident, was alive due to her efforts in one of the missions. However, this resulted in the death of Thelonius Cray, which sparks off another mission to save him in the past.
As she embarks on each mission, she is constantly confronted by mysterious Twisted that are more powerful than the others. It is eventually revealed that the battle is not fought by two parties between humans and the twisted, but a third party of species is involved. Firstly, these twisted like creatures were mutated from humans, notably humans she had known, like Kyle Madigan. Secondly, this twisted species retained the human intelligence found lacking in the other, less dangerous and more commonly encountered Twisted. As she defeats each of these special Twisted, she regains bits and pieces of her memory, most prominently that she had a sister called Eve Brea, and that she was engaged to Kyle Madigan.
After an incident that saw the CTI HQ and the Overdive device destroyed by Kyle Madigan, Aya reunites with Kunihiko Maeda, who supports her while she continues to battle, this time in the present, to resolve the entire mystery behind the appearance of the Babel, Twisted and the species human-mutated Twisted, dubbed by Maeda as "The High Ones". Events eventually lead Aya to discover Bohr as the main villain, a High One himself. Bohr had masterminded the death of other High Ones in order to form the Grand Babel, which, through Maeda's investigation, functions like a giant Overdive system. Bohr had wanted to dive back in the past to Time Zero, where all events had happened in order to fullfill his plan for the survival of his own species from a time war cycle between humans, the high ones, and the twisted.
Aya battles Bohr repeatedly and is pulled along by him into the time stream back to Time Zero, which takes her back to her own wedding to Kyle Madigan in 2010. Bohr, who explained that all High-Ones had the ability to dive, had dived into his own body. He further explained that when Aya had been on the verge of death after an attack by a SWAT team that had stormed the church, Eve Brea had tried to "reach" Aya. This resulted in the birth of the "Overdive" ability. The current Aya is actually Eve in Aya's body. Eve, on the other hand, had accidentally shattered Aya's soul when she dived into Aya's body, resulting in the shards being scattered across time and space and giving birth to the Twisted. The High Ones, on the other hand, were formed from the de-souled body of Eve, thus transferring her memories and the Overdive ability to them.
After Eve returns to her own body by Bohr's command, Bohr begs Eve to assimilate him into herself to bear the birth of an even more evolved species. Upon Eve's refusal, Bohr tries to force the process, only to be shot repeatedly by Aya, who has somehow returned to her body. Yet the Twisted crisis cannot be averted until the sources are removed. After Aya's expression of her regret at not being able to exchange her vows with the now dead Kyle, she instructs Eve to shoot her in the chest. Eve, in a fit of emotion, does so after switching bodies with Aya. In doing so, both Twisted and the High Ones are not born and Eve also ceases to exist, resulting in the formation of a new timeline.
The ending shows Eve, in Aya's body, agreeing to marry Kyle. But to her surprise, Kyle addresses her not as Aya, but as Eve, and wants her to lead her own life and that he and Aya will always watch over her. Eve is left speechless but eventually smiles as Kyle wishes her "Happy Birthday" before leaving to search for "eternity", meaning that he is going to search for Aya.
In the post-credits ending (which can be obtained by beating the game twice), Eve, in Aya's body, is seen walking the streets of New York during Christmas Eve. She stops for a while and catches a falling snowflake. At the same time, a woman wearing a brown trench coat and the same hairstyle as Aya's, passes by her and wishes her a happy birthday before disappearing into thin air, while Eve looks for her. Whether or not the woman is Aya is unknown.
- Despite being in her late thirties, Aya appears to be the age of 25 due to her advanced mitochondria. Because of this, she is also the only applicable candidate viable for the Overdive System. She has lost her memories as a result of unknown circumstances, which has led to a drastic change in personality since the first two Parasite Eve games: She is shown to be more vulnerable and fighting for unknown reasons. She has the ability to travel through time via the Overdive system, and also gained the new ability to body swap. She is the secret weapon for the human race in the fight against the Twisted. In certain trailers, she is shown wearing what might be a wedding ring.
- Eve was adopted as Aya's sister after the Neo Ark incident in Parasite Eve 2, though she is actually a clone of Aya herself. Before the events of The 3rd Birthday, it's said that she went missing along with Kyle Madigan, and due to Aya's missing memories it is unknown why. It is implied in the trailers that Eve has some kind of connection to the Twisted incidents.
- The aftermath of the events in Parasite Eve 2 implied that Kyle started a relationship with Aya. He and Aya are shown to be married throughout the trailers. However, he and Eve have gone missing for reasons unknown in The 3rd Birthday. Aya has been shown to see him in recent trailers, but doesn't know who he is. It is implied in the trailers that Kyle has some kind of connection to the Twisted incidents.
- Kunihiko Maeda Voiced by: Hiroaki Hirata (JP) and Joe J. Thomas (EN)
- Following the events of the New York Blockade Incident from the first Parasite Eve, he returned to Japan, but made the trip back to New York after the Twisted outbreak. In The 3rd Birthday, Maeda has a special shelter that he's converted out of an old storage house. A specialist in Mitochondria research and an old friend from her past, he has earned great trust from Aya. The character is different from the first game, becoming less shy to express himself.
- Head of CTI's Overdive division. He's a pro when it comes to the technological side of the investigation and will give clear guidance to those he sends out to the battle field. His allies place trust in him, but he is easily misunderstood due to his cold composure and insistence on perfection. He was the main antagonist of the game.
- Thelonious Cray Voiced by: Hisao Egawa (JP) and Chris Jai Alex (EN)
- A former army special forces agent and now a special investigator operating in CTI's Overdive investigation division. When CTI was formed, he was called upon due to his knowledge of combat strategy. He serves as Aya's trainer and will also apparently teach you the game's controls.
- A Korean researcher in CTI's Overdive division and head of computer systems for CTI as a whole. His true nature is surrounded in mystery, but he is called Dr. Blank because his computer handle means "empty."
- Karud "Boss" Owen (Hunter "Boss" Owen in US version) Voiced by: Wataru Yokojima (JP) and Joe Smith (EN)
- Head of CTI. While he was originally on a path to head up the FBI, he was temporarily placed as CTI's head following the Twisted invasion. In the trailers, he is shown apparently attempting to kill Aya, calling her a monster that can't be trusted.
- A special investigator with CTI's Overdive Division. She's particularly skilled as a sniper, and trains Aya in this area. She is shown in past trailers lending her body to Aya three days prior for an Overdive operation.
- Emily is Eve's best friend. A quirky, friendly and likeable girl, she is encountered by Aya in Episode 1 and gives her a message from Eve before mutating into a Twisted and subsequently being killed by Aya.
The game was originally announced as a mobile phone title. However, at the private party, DKΣ3713 in August 2008, it was announced that The 3rd Birthday was being developed for the PSP instead with no mention of the previously-announced mobile phone version. In the Tokyo Game Show presskits, it was confirmed that the game would be exclusive to the PSP.
Scenario director Motomu Toriyama conceived story concepts such as the snowy New York setting and the image of a bloodstained wedding dress. Over the course of the development, he adjusted the plot numerous times to be more adult-oriented and to include narrative twists. The scenario for the game was written by anime scriptwriter Toshimitsu Takeuchi who had previously worked on the series Sgt. Frog and Hataraki Man as well as an original video animation for The Prince of Tennis. Issue 6/5 of Famitsu has an interview of Tetsuya Nomura where he says that the first few stages of the game are already playable. Japanese recording artist Superfly performs the game's theme song "Eyes On Me".
Square Enix released the Twisted Edition of the game exclusively in Europe and PAL territories. This version includes a red PSP game case along with a 48-page hardbook featuring artwork and concept illustrations, two lithograph art prints, and an exclusive code to Aya's costume for Lightning to wear in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy. In North America, the code to unlock the costume for Lightning is included within the first run copies of all the games.
The 3rd Birthday garnered a 70 out of 100 on Metacritic and 71.04% at GameRankings. Japanese magazine Famitsu gave the game a 36 out of 40, with the reviewers each giving it a 10, 9, 8 and 9 respectively.
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- The 3rd Birthday European site
- The 3rd Birthday North American site
- The 3rd Birthday Japanese site (Japanese)
- The 3rd Birthday official blog (Japanese)
- The 3rd Birthday official Twitter (Japanese)
- The 3rd Birthday OE Chip Guide
- The 3rd Birthday Original Soundtrack official website (Japanese)