By Hailinel 18 Comments
First Thoughts on The 3rd Birthday
This evening, I played The 3rd Birthday for the first time. For those of you unfamiliar with the name, it's essentially Parasite Eve 3. It stars Aya Brea, the protagonist of the first two games, and is set in a near future where humanity is at war with a strange menage called the Twisted. The game plays sort of like Messiah or Geist, in that as Aya, your spirit is sent back into the past on missions to try and change events, and you have the ability to jump from ally to ally when others are within range and take possession of them, though unlike those other games, you always see yourself as Aya, rather than whatever NPC you're currently inhabiting.
In a lot of ways, I wasn't really sure what this game would be like going in. It has RPG elements, in that Aya can level up and gain more health, and there's a currency system in place that allows Aya to buy and upgrade weapons and repair her armor, but beyond that, the game is basically a third-person shooter with regenerating health and cover mechanics. I have never played Parasite Eve 1 or 2, but I'm pretty certain that neither game played like this. In any case, it actually controls fairly well, as targets can be locked on with L and shot at with R, and reloaded, switching weapons, and so on is a snap. There's also some mechanics in play where you can focus on enemies that allies are fighting and deal extra damage, and the same ability that Aya uses to jump from ally to ally can be used to deal heavy damage to enemy targets. And as long as a special gauge is full, Aya can temporarily enter a "liberated" state that amps up her attack power.
So far, I'm having fun with it. The game plays well, the cutscenes have their usual Square Enix level of polish and flair, and there's a little extra goofy cheesecake in the way that Aya's clothes are torn to shreds as she takes damage, which leads to a reduction in her armor's effectiveness (while also being completely silly, but whatever. I'm rolling with it). The one thing I am baffled by, however, is its connection to Parasite Eve 1&2.
This is mostly a non-issue, I think. The game seems set up to introduce Aya to new players by sticking her with amnesia at the game's start. She was apparently found passed out in a wedding dress and taken in by doctors who discovered that she has certain special abilities, and because of that she was recruited into fighting the Twisted. The game has an internal timeline that can be accessed between missions to catch up on the story, but so far, none of the background information provides details on what occurred prior to The 3rd Birthday. Then again, I'm not sure what all can and can't be referenced, since it seems that Square Enix no longer has the license to use the Parasite Eve name.
It's a very intriguing game. Not necessarily what I expected, but it's fun. It'll probably get me to use my PSP more than any other game in quite some time, if it holds up like this.