The first Parasite Eve was the story of Aya Brea saving New York from a catastrophic mitochondrial takeover. The sequel placed Aya Brea on a special team called MIST that hunted down rouge mitochondrial enemies, and introduced several new characters to the series - Kyle Madigan, a romantic interest for Aya. It also introduced Eve, a clone of Aya who is just a child.
3rd Birthday starts off a decade after this. Kyle Madigan and Aya have fallen in love and are getting married, and Aya has adopted Eve as her daughter. However, after an incident in a church on their wedding day - both were killed. Aya has lost her memories of the day, and was found years later.
Soon afterwards, Twisted started to appear. Twisted are enemies that live outside time and space, and they have started to take over the world. Their nexus is called Babel, and it's the mission of the U.S. National Guard's elite "The Dead March" to destroy it. However, they failed and by 2013 America is in ruins.
Now, CTI is attempting to rewrite the past. By sending Aya Brea into the months after the appearance of the Twisted, they hope to undo key events that led to their failure. But so much is still unexplained. Why does Aya have no memories of her past? Why is her personality so timid compared to the Aya of Parasite Eve 1 and 2? What happened to Kyle Madigan and Eve? The answers all lie in what happened on her wedding day, known as Time Zero.
For 3rd Birthday, Aya will be sent "overdiving," being sent through time and inhabiting the bodies of people in that time period. She will try to undo the deaths of her friends and uncover the mystery of where the Twisted came from.
- Aya Brea, CTI Special Agent, and the protagonist of Parasite Eve 1 and 2. In the North American release she is voiced by Yvonne Strahovski, known for previously voicing Miranda Lawson in Mass Effect 2 and also late of NBC's "Chuck". The Aya Brea in 3rd Birthday is much more unsure of herself than the character in the first two games, though this reason is explained in the game's ending.
- Hyde Bohr, head of the CTI Overdive Investigation. Voiced by Nolan North, the frequent winner and namesake of Giant Bomb's annual award "The Northie" for the game with the best Nolan North voice acting.
- Blank, CTI Scientist, head of the CTI technological division. Also close colleague of Hyde.
- Gabrielle Monsigny - A sniper and a gentler character of the CTI team. She dies in the course of episode 2.
- Thelonius Cray, CTI Agent former member of Delta Force, a counter-terrorism unit in US Army.
- Hunter "Boss" Owen, Head of the CTI. An older, gruff man with a dislike of Aya and a dislike of technology. Known as Karud Owen in the Japanese version.
- Kyle Madigan. Aya's fiance and primary love interest.
- Eve Brea. A younger clone of Aya who she adopted following the events of Parasite Eve 2.
3rd Birthday is broken into 6 chapters. Although most of the game's plot is shown through cutscenes, key facts are only discoverable by reading emails and briefings in between missions.
Chapter 0 - Prologue.
On December 24, 2010, Aya, in wedding garment, was discovered on the street of St. Thomas Cathedral. In addition, she has also become an amnesiac, unable to recollect memories of her past. As a result, Hyde Bohr, a Danish scientist, took her in. Meanwhile, strange beings and organisms were beginning to appear in New York State. Before long, these beings began assaulting civilians, and in response the American government has decided to both conceal the fact that these organisms, known as the Twisted, exist and to create an organization in response to them. This organization is called the Counter Terrorism Unit in December 2010, which would eventually result in the formation of the CTI (Counter Twisted Investigation Team) in August 2011. Members of the CTI would eventually include but aren't limited to:
On May 22, 2011, Twisted commenced an assault on the Peter Feldman department store in New York City. Although deployed SWAT teams were able to hold of the Twisted, around 200 civilians were killed. This resulted in the CTI. In the same month, analysis indicates that Aya Brea has the unique ability to travel throughout time, space and into people's minds. This ability will be dubbed as "Overdive" by Hyde Bohr. To complement Aya's abilities, the Overdive Device was created. It allows Aya to go back in time and overdive into people from the past.
On December 24, 2012, huge plant-like/ tentacle-like structures called Babels began to emerge in New York City. The Army was powerless to stop the ascent of these towers and the Twisted began to attack en masse. Due to the enormous casualties and scale of the event, this day was to be known as "The Beginning of the End". Several more events followed, namely the Sacrifice Incident, would push humanity towards the brink of extinction.
The game begins on December 24, 2013, during the three year anniversary of the first sightings of the Twisted. At this time, the CTI intends to use Aya to operate the Overdive Device in order to alter past events involving the Twisted so that the battle between the Twisted and the humans would be more favorable towards the latter side. Aya's first mission takes her into a squad of National Guardsmen stationed in Manhattan one year prior, helping eliminate Twisted en route to Club Sacrifice.
Chapter 2 - The Sacrifice Incident (December 24, 2012)
On the same day as the Babels emerged, there was a massive attack by the Twisted on Club Sacrifice in NYC. Although the National Guard was able to arrive on the scene (despite numerous casualties), the entire unit was annihilated thanks to a type of Twisted called "Reapers".
Aya is tasked to go back in time to help the National Guard succeed in removing the Twisted from the area. Thanks to her, the National Guard was able to enter Club Sacrifice with less casualties and successfully repel the Twisted while defeating an advanced Twisted known as Helix.
However, at the same time, Aya begins to regain pieces of her memory. While rescuing civilians she managed to find a survivor known as Emily Jefferson. Through this acquaintance, Aya managed to remember that there was another girl who really resembles her. Shortly thereafter, though, Emily grew into a special Twisted herself, and she was gunned down by Aya and the National Guard.
Aya Brea's core ability in T3B; it is the vector by which she travels into the past in order to eliminate the Twisted. The term "Overdive" is a portmanteau of sorts; Aya is layering her consciousness "Over" that of a National Guardsman or other pertinent human in the past, while her physical form rests in the present at CTI headquarters - her vitals dropping to levels resembling a deep-sea "Dive."
Using Overdive, Aya can maintain total battlefield control remotely by possessing otherwise NPC-operated soldiers in sequence. For cosmetic reasons, the possessed soldier will have Aya's appearance to the player - her body won’t actually be there, only her mind. Nevertheless, Aya is still putting her life on the line - if a human she's Overdived into dies before she is able to escape, her consciousness will be lost with them, leaving only an inert body in CTI's present.
Overdive also has an offensive capability, in the form of Overdive Kill. The theory behind this ability stems from Overdive being incapable of transplanting Aya's consciousness into less developed creatures such as animals, resulting in violent psychosomatic shock to the Overdive target. After successfully saturating a Twisted with gunfire or hitting its weak point, Aya can make an instantaneous Overdive into the creature, causing massive damage or outright dissolving the target. Despite the explicit riskiness of the maneuver, Overdive Kill is the preferred method of eliminating Twisted - the cellular shock leaves no corpse on a killing blow, which would otherwise remain to deal caustic damage to bystanders even after death.
Life and Death
Aya's life and death affects the NPC she's possessed. When the controlled NPC is on the verge of dying the game slows down allowing the player to perform an Overdive and switch to another soldier if available. The death of all NPCs results in a Game Over screen.
With most of Aya's own customizable weapons having a limited amount of ammo, the player will have to make strategic use of the varied weaponry carried by the different soldiers. When selecting a target to dive in, its weapon and current ammo count will be displayed. Once dived in, that weapon will be added to Aya’s arsenal until the player decides to change to another NPC.
Aya must fill three weapon slots, though the first slot is always filled by her default pistol with infinite (upgradeable) ammo. The fourth slot is filled by the NPC whose body you inhabit. Weapons may be upgraded with BP, obtained from defeating enemies.
Six categories of weapon exist:
- Pistols: Generally low damage and rate of fire, but often feature upgrades that improve Overdive Kill stun buildup and/or Liberation Gauge buildup.
- Shotguns: Great for knockback, damage, and Overdive Kill buildup at close range, but hampered by low ammo capacity.
- Assault Rifles: Good all-around performance with large ammo stocks that drain relatively quickly. Most can be customized in order to maximize either damage or Overdive Kill buildup.
- Sniper Rifles: Must be aimed manually, making their use against moving and close targets limited, but their scopes enable Aya to spot and shoot the weak points of Twisted, enabling instant Overdive Kills. Ammo capacity roughly as limited as Shotguns'.
- Grenade Launchers: Area-of-effect weapons with an improved range on Aya's handheld grenades, able to deal a lot of damage and Overdive Kill hitstun in a hurry to clustered or large targets. Abysmal ammo capacity.
- Special: An assortment of weapons falling outside the above categories, usually only available after multiple playthroughs or in special situations such as Overdiving into armored vehicle operators. Excepting the Blaze Edge pistol, they value dealing fast damage above all else and cannot take advantage of lock-on. Special Weapons cannot be upgraded.
Killing enemies increases the Liberation bar on the lower right of the HUD, and when the bar turns red, Aya can use Liberation. Liberation temporarily increases Aya's reflexes and lets her wield two pistols which fires rapidly and can easily enable Aya to use Overdive Kill.
Liberation also takes a great toll on Aya's mind and body; her health will not be affected, but she will be stunned temporarily after Liberation ends unless her final act was a lethal Overdive Kill.
3rd Birthday garnered mostly positive reviews, and a MetaCritic score of 70. IGN gave the game an 8.5. Reviewer Patrick Kolan said "3rd Birthday has depth, great production values throughout, and the raw mechanics give PSP gamers a mostly satisfying RPG-shooter despite the system's inherent flaws, including a disappointing script." He also went on to say it was a fresh start to the series, and protagonist Aya Brea deserved further adventures.
GameSpot reviewer Carolyn Petit was far more critical, giving the game a 6.0. "The 3rd Birthday has an intriguing story with an annoying heroine and unusual gameplay that makes for an occasionally thrilling experience, which is often undermined by stiff controls and frustrating difficulty," noted Petit. "Some will find enduring the flaws a tolerable price to pay to experience Aya Brea's strange journey, but she has some serious growing up to do before her next birthday rolls around."
The game also garnered attention for the "disappearing clothes" of protagonist Aya Brea. As Brea took damage, her clothes became more and more damaged and she showed more and more skin. The clothes must then be repaired with BP to reduce damage. This mechanics exists for the sexier outfits that are unlocked, such as a maid's outfit and a cheongsam.
Connection to Parasite Eve
In a recent interview with the games director, Hajime Tabata stated that the, The 3rd Birthday is a new IP and not the continuation of the Parasite Eve series. The series only shares links with Aya and her back story and uses that as leverage for a new series rather than continuing on the Parasite Eve series. This is no longer a Parasite Eve game, hence the reason for the Parasite Even name not being used.
Parasite Eve 2 finished the story for Parasite Eve, so we couldn’t do a Parasite Eve III. We really thought Aya was such an attractive protagonist, so we didn’t want to just leave her alone. We wanted to resurrect her in hope to make an Aya Brea series our next big franchise.
Is The 3rd Birthday becoming the title for the franchise or just for this game in particular? We haven’t really made our minds up yet. We’d like to wait and see how the game is received by fans, so we can see what the name should be, what should be improved and what the series should be. What challenges we should overcome.
Aya Brea sports a sexier look and her character has become a lot more timid in comparison to the Parasite Eve series. Tabata-san said the dramatic change in character is explained in the game and claimed that the sexy new look was not intentional.