13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

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13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
13 Sentinels Aegis Rim cover art.jpg
Developer(s)Vanillaware
Publisher(s)
Director(s)George Kamitani
Producer(s)Akiyasu Yamamoto
Programmer(s)Kentaro Ohnishi
Artist(s)Yukiko Hirai
Emika Kida
Writer(s)George Kamitani
Composer(s)Hitoshi Sakimoto
Platform(s)PlayStation 4
Release
  • JP: November 28, 2019
  • WW: 2020
Genre(s)Adventure, real-time strategy
Mode(s)Single-player

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim[a] is a real-time strategy adventure game developed by Vanillaware and published by Atlus for the PlayStation 4. It was released in Japan on November 28, 2019 and is planned for a Western release in 2020. A "dramatic adventure", set in a fictionalized 1980s Japan and following thirteen high-school students dragged into a futuristic war between mechas and hostile kaiju, the game is divided between adventure side-scrolling segments and battles involving the titular Sentinels fighting in real-time strategy.

Director and writer George Kamitani conceived the game as a departure from the studio's traditional fantasy-setting video games following the completion of Dragon's Crown, originally pitching it for a toy line. 13 Sentinels began production two years later, discarding the toy line element under Atlus. The production proved challenging for Vanillaware, as the studio dealt with various workload and development challenges due to the game's greater scope compared to past titles. Contrary to previous works, Kamitani both worked on the script alone and handed character design duties to Yukiko Hirai and Emika Kida. Hitoshi Sakimoto and his studio Basiscape, who handled music for Vanillaware's past games, returned to provide music and sound direction.

Originally scheduled for a 2018 release for both PS4 and PlayStation Vita, the game was delayed to 2019 and the Vita version was cancelled. A paid demo showcasing the game, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim Prologue, was released in March 2019. A downloadable free demo was later released in October the same year.

Gameplay[edit]

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is an adventure game where players take control of thirteen different characters, who interact with each other to build a larger narrative.[1] The gameplay is split into three sections: "Adventure", with exploration and dialogue taking priority and advancing the narrative; "Battle", where characters equip mecha and engage in pausable real-time battles against enemies; and "Archives", which documents event scenes and important items and characters.[2]

During adventure segments, the player explores two-dimensional (2D) side-scrolling environments, interacting with elements of the environments in a non-linear manner. Several elements move in real-time regardless of the player's actions, and choices can be made which alter the outcome of some scenes. Keywords spoken by characters are added to a "Cloud Sync" database, which can be accessed to trigger both internal monologues and initiate new dialogue.[1][3][4] The character stories are tracked with a flowchart, with players able to jump between scenes to try different keywords from the Cloud Sync. If a wrong choice is made during one section, the game rewinds back to the beginning of the day so players can select the right choice. To reach that point faster, events the player has already seen can be fast forwarded.[5] Some sections of character narratives are locked off until something else has taken place in another character's narrative.[6]

The battle system takes the form of a real-time strategy scenario, with up to six chosen characters using Sentinels to fight off waves of enemies called Kaijuu. Each Sentinel is positioned around a defense hub, which must be defended from the Kaijuu waves. The hub's heath is determined by which units are in place, and if all units are defeated, the hub is overwhelmed and the game ends. Gameplay can be paused, allowing for Sentinels to be moved and actions such as combat and support abilities to be carried out. The section is completed when the hub is successfully defended against all waves.[6][7] Battles pit Sentinels against Kaijuu with differing strengths, requiring one of the four Sentinel types; some Sentinels are strong against flying enemies, while others do better against large ground-based forces. They also have different attack ranges and movement speed. The player can also trigger limited-use "Terminal Commands", special field-wide abilities such as an EMP which use up a dedicated energy gauge.[5] Sentinels can be upgraded using experience points and upgrade items called Chips, with increased experience levels unlocking new character-specific perks.[6]

Synopsis[edit]

Setting[edit]

13 Sentinels is primarily set during a fictionalised version of the 1980s in the Shōwa period, but also jumps between Japan during the later years of World War II and the distant future.[8][9][10] The story follows its thirteen protagonists, all of high school age, as they are dragged from their normal lives into a fantastical war against invading alien forces using the Sentinel mechas.[1] The storyline is split between multiple characters, and by following each character the player aims to avert a disastrous future for mankind.[2]

Characters[edit]

The scenario follows the perspective of thirteen different characters. While several characters are native to the 1980s, several come from either the future or the era of World War II.[10] They are Juro Kurabe, an otaku who accidentally summons a Sentinel; Iori Fuyusaka, an outgoing student troubled by strange dreams; Ei Sekigahara, an amnesiac young man pursued by a mysterious organisation; Keitaro Miura, a young man from World War II-era Japan; Takatoshi Hijiyama, Miura's underclassman from the same time period; Nenji Ogata, a good-hearted delinquent; Natsuno Minami, a track team member fascinated by the occult and UFOs who ends up travelling between time periods; Shuu Amiguchi, a playboy delinquent with a kind heart; Yuki Takamiya, a notorious sukeban (delinquent girl) and childhood friend of Natsuno; Tomi Kisaragi, a girl from the near-future sent into the 1980s; Megumi Yakushiji, a girl from the near-future obsesssed with Juro; Ryouko Shinonome, a sickly girl tasked with pursuing an escaped prisoner dubbed "426"; and Renya Gouto, who leads the Sentinel pilots.[8][9][10][11]

There are several notable supporting characters. Tsukasa Okino is a genius student with deep knowledge of the Sentinels, disguising himself as a girl in the 1940s to learn about the time period. Chihiro is a mysterious girl; sporting an implanted personality, she accompanies Ryouko. Kyuuta Shiba is an apparent friend of Juro, but possesses strange powers and a hidden agenda. Erika Aiba is a student who tags along with Takamiya as they solve mysteries surrounding the Sentinels. Tetsuya Ida, while ostensably a part-time instructor, is the chairman of the covert Special Intelligence Agency. The small robot BJ accompanies Natsuo on her journeys through time. Shippo appears as a talking cat, striking a deal with Megumi to "save" Juro.[7][10][12]

Development[edit]

The game was developed by Vanillaware, an independent game developer noted for their work on Odin Sphere, Dragon's Crown and Muramasa: The Demon Blade; notable for their usage of 2D art in an industry predominated by the usage of 3D graphics.[13] Vanillaware founder George Kamitani, who also directed Odin Sphere and Dragon's Crown, returned to serve as director for the game while handing the character design duties to Yukio Hirai and Emika Kida, and Hitoshi Sakimoto and his music production company Basiscape, a long-time collaborator of Vanillaware, returned to handle music and sound duties.[3][14][15] The game was produced by Akiyasu Yamamoto of Atlus acted as producer, a role he had fulfilled for Odin Sphere.[16] It was the team's first game to use a contemporary or science fiction setting, as all their previous projects had used high fantasy settings.[1][15]

The concept originated in 2013 following the completion of Dragon's Crown. Tired with spending so long in fantasy worlds, Kamitani wanted to create a science-fiction story set in the time of his youth in the 1980s.[15] He also wanted something on a much smaller scale, as Dragon's Crown was a huge project for him.[16] It was originally pitched to an unnamed media company on the basis that it would be used as a basis for a toyline, with the marketing focused exclusively on Japan and having a small budget and low sales margins. As part of the initial pitch, Kamitani created mechas with hulking designs inspired by Robot Jox, then created a "gap in expectations" by having a setting and characters inspired by shōjo manga. He was about to push forward with the project in this form when he remembered Atlus had been given right of first refusal as part of their contract to fund Dragon's Crown. Frustrated with the other company's demands and uncertain that Atlus would approve of the concept, Kamitani nevertheless showed it to them. Atlus, who was searching for a game to market internationally, immediately accepted it without the need to incorporate the toy line marketing. Despite these changes, the overall story concept remained intact and the final scene was unchanged from the original draft. Full production began in the summer of 2015 following the completion of remakes of Muramasa (Muramasa Rebirth) and Odin Sphere (Odin Sphere Leifthrasir).[15]

Design[edit]

Kamitani's original concept had eight or nine characters, but as the first artwork for the concept was published in 2013, he decided to increase the number to thirteen; this exponentially increased the company's workload.[15] Prior to incorporating mechas, the story revolved around young people with superpowers inspired by the anime Night Head Genesis. Due to lacking excitement and overt science fiction elements, he rewrote the premise. Kamitani based the narrative on the original video animation Megazone 23. He was originally planning on basing the narrative of Two Years' Vacation by Jules Verne, and the characters Renya and Megumi being based on the novel characters Gordon and Cross.[16] In contrast to his work on Odin Sphere, where he had created the overall story while other writers worked on the game scenario, Kamitani wrote the entire scenario of the game himself both in and out of office hours over the course of three years. Kamitani chose to set the game in 1980s Japan due to his own experience; he had lacking knowledge of the modern Japanese school system and the lack of mobile phones in that era allowed for more face-to-face conversations between characters in-game.[15]

Kamitani, who previously handed character designs himself in previous games, handed duties to Hirai and Kida due to the workload.[15] The character design was influenced by the work of mangaka Akira Kagami, a favorite of Kamitani in his youth. Hirai was given the stylistic direction of "girls and robots" for the character designs.[16] Unlike past Vanillaware games like Odin Sphere and Muramasa, which repeatedly used the same 2D background environments for their event scenes, the team created different backgrounds for several event scenes for the game and experimented with using some 3D assets for objects for additional layering in scenes, increasing development time. The added depth also created problems for the team with conveying emotions during cutscenes.[15] During production, the character designs of Ryouko and Megumi were switched to better fit their emerging story personalities.[16]

The team's aim was to push the boundaries they had previously established for 2D artwork in video games.[13] The adventure segments were designed to express the classic style of adventure games with a more intuitive interface design and response, for which the Cloud Sync system was designed. Though Kamitani thought the Cloud Sync system would be simple, it's implementation proved extra challenging. The real-time strategy elements were based on Vanillaware's earlier effort GrimGrimoire, with the balance of adventure and battle sections in 13 Sentinels being based on original plans for GrimGrimoire. As the StarCraft-based gameplay of GrimGrimoire had met with a mixed response in Japan, Kamitani combined it with elements of the tower defense genre popular in the region. These elements were mostly handled by the programming team, led by Kentaro Ohnishi. The Archive was suggested by staff member Kouichi Maenou as a means for players to explore the game's mysteries. This aspect was handled by other staff, as Kamitani was in the middle of scenario writing. He reminisced that due to the various development challenges and his own workload, he felt like an absentee compared to the other staff as there was comparatively little interaction during development. The increased workload, scope, and challenges for the game's development led to significant changes in the studio's usual development cycle.[15]

Release[edit]

The game was announced at the 2015 Tokyo Game Show for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.[17][14] At the time of its announcement, the game had only just entered full development and there were very few assets to show.[15] Prior to the announcement, the game was first teased in a preview video in July 2015 as a collaboration project between Atlus and Vanillaware following the public reveal of Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir.[18] The game was originally scheduled for release in 2018, but in November of that year Atlus and Vanillaware delayed the game to an unspecified date and cancelled the Vita version due to the longer time needed for development.[19]

A paid game demo, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim Prologue, was released in Japan on March 14, 2019, intending to give waiting players a taste of what was to come due to the game being delayed.[20][21] A demo that allows players to access the first three hours of the game was released on October 30, 2019 in Japan. Players with save data from Aegis Rim Prologue are able to play the demo for six hours. The save data from this demo carries over to the Japanese version of the full game.[22] The game was released on November 28, 2019 in Japan.[23] A worldwide release was confirmed by Atlus USA at the 2018 Electronic Entertainment Expo.[24] It is planned for worldwide release in 2020.[4]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Review score
PublicationScore
Famitsu38/40[25][26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d “十三”人の少年少女のSF群像劇。史上最も美麗なADV、始まる。 (in Japanese). Sega. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim launches November 28 in Japan, third trailer and details". Gematsu. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  3. ^ a b 「十三機兵防衛圏」は,13人の主人公の視点で物語が展開する“ドラマチックアドベンチャー”。世界観が確認できるゲームシーンを紹介 (in Japanese). 4Gamer.net. September 29, 2017. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Parish, Jeremy (September 14, 2019). "Vanillaware's 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim Combines Slice-of-Life Drama With Apocalyptic Time Travel". Prima Games. Archived from the original on November 19, 2019. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "【『十三機兵防衛圏』主人公に深く関わる重要人物7人を紹介。4タイプの機兵や、さまざまな特徴を持つ怪獣についても明らかに" (in Japanese). Famitsu. November 29, 2019. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c 十三機兵防衛圏 - System. Atlus (in Japanese). Archived from the original on November 19, 2019. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  7. ^ a b "【『十三機兵防衛圏』主人公に深く関わる重要人物7人を紹介。4タイプの機兵や、さまざまな特徴を持つ怪獣についても明らかに" (in Japanese). Famitsu. October 2, 2019. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  8. ^ a b 十三機兵防衛圏. Famitsu. Enterbrain (1615): 80. October 24, 2019.
  9. ^ a b 十三機兵防衛圏. Dengeki PlayStation (in Japanese). ASCII Media Works (678): 81. July 26, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d 号外 - アトラス - 十三機兵防衛圏 (PDF). Atlus (in Japanese). October 10, 2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 19, 2019. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  11. ^ ito (July 30, 2019). ヴァニラウェアの最新作「十三機兵防衛圏」,13人いる主人公たちの情報が公開。「崩壊編」「追想編」「究明編」に分かれたゲームシステムの詳細も. 4Gamer.net (in Japanese). Archived from the original on October 20, 2019. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  12. ^ 「十三機兵防衛圏」の公式サイトでストーリーのカギを握る4人の少年少女達が公開。バトルパートの進め方も明らかに. 4Gamer.net (in Japanese). September 19, 2019. Archived from the original on October 20, 2019. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Miekle, Jason (January 4, 2017). "Vanillaware's Kamitani on Keeping the 2D Flame Alive in the Age of 3D". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 3, 2017. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  14. ^ a b "【速報】アトラス×ヴァニラウェアが挑む新プロジェクト『十三機兵防衛圏』が始動! PS4とPS Vitaでリリース決定【SCEJAカンファレンス2015】" (in Japanese). Famitsu. September 15, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j 「十三機兵防衛圏」ディレクターの神谷盛治氏にメールインタビュー。なぜロボット? なぜ“13”? 謎多き作品の気になるところを聞いた. 4Gamer.net (in Japanese). November 12, 2019. Archived from the original on November 13, 2019. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  16. ^ a b c d e かくして快作『十三機兵防衛圏』は生まれり──インタビュー・総括編。「キラキラしたものを詰め込んだ」開発のヴァニラウェア神谷盛治氏らに訊く. Famitsu (in Japanese). 2019-12-11. Archived from the original on 2019-12-11. Retrieved 2019-12-12.
  17. ^ "アトラス×ヴァニラウェアの新プロジェクト「十三機兵防衛圏」が正式発表。ティザーサイトにてPVが公開中" (in Japanese). 4Gamer.net. September 15, 2015.
  18. ^ "Atlus and VanillaWare tease new project, details coming in September". Gematsu. July 20, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  19. ^ Ike, Sato (November 15, 2018). "13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim Cancels PS Vita Version, Release Date Changed To TBA In Japan". Siliconera. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
  20. ^ Romano, Sal (8 January 2019). "13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim Prologue launches March 14 in Japan". Gematsu. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  21. ^ Wong, Alistair (April 5, 2019). "Atlus Former CEO Naoto Hiraoka On The Switch, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim's Delay, And More". Siliconera. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
  22. ^ 「序盤まるごと体験版」 配信日が10月30日(水)に決定! (in Japanese). Atlus. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  23. ^ "13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim launches November 28 in Japan, third trailer and details". Gematsu. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  24. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (June 6, 2017). "Vanillaware's sci-fi adventure 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim confirmed for western release". Eurogamer. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
  25. ^ Romano, Sal (November 20, 2019). "Famitsu Review Scores: Issue 1616". Gematsu. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  26. ^ 十三機兵防衛圏のレビュー・評価・感想 (in Japanese). Famitsu. 2019-11-20. Retrieved 2019-11-28.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Jūsan kihei bōeiken (Japanese: 十三機兵防衛圏, lit. 13 Machine Soldier Defence Zone)

External links[edit]