Released in 1998, Parasite Eve is a detached sequel to the novel of the same name and is considered by many to be Square’s answer to the Resident Evil series. It does divert from Resident Evil in terms of gameplay mechanics, largely with its battle system and RPG mechanics as well as random encounters.
You play as Aya Brea, an officer of the NYPD who is attending an opera. During the play the entire theater starts to spontaneously combust, and you find out an actress by the name of Melissa Pearce is the culprit. Melissa mentions to Aya that her mitochondria is going to awaken and Melissa transforms into a beast. Melissa declares that she is now called a creature named Eve and then escapes to cause trouble around New York City, and Aya declares it her mission to stop her.
Navigation is very similar to how the Final Fantasy series on the Playstation are, with a three dimensional character interacting with a two dimensional environment made with pre-rendered graphics. Certain parts of the areas you traverse through have “hot spots” where there’s a chance enemies can randomly appear. This engages you into battle mode where you can either clear the area by defeating all of the monsters, or by fleeing.
With the battle system, Square brings back the Active Time Battle System where you have to wait for the action bar to fill to perform an action. Where this game differs from Final Fantasy is that you can run around to dodge enemy attacks while you wait for the ATB bar to fill. The actions limited to the ATB are attacking and using items. Later on in the game, you will gain Parasite Energy, which is this game’s version of magic. Parasite Energy has typical types of spells you see in RPG’s such as healing your health or status ailments, or powerful attacks. When you press the X button when your ATB bar fills, the game pauses and brings up a sphere, this is your attack range. This sadly doesn’t appear in later Parasite Eve games, but does make a return in Vagrant Story, another Squaresoft RPG.
Another aspect of the game is weapon and armor customization. Like most RPG’s throughout the game you’ll find various armor and weapons, but in this game, you can collect tools that can take attributes from previous weapons to power up your equipment, either by adding special effects, or by increasing their effectiveness.
Graphically it’s fairly similar to Final Fantasy VIII, except not as good seeing as it came before. Though for the time this game came out, it’s pretty good for its time. They’re definitely not as blobby as Final Fantasy VII or Wild Arms, and they definitely start looking more and more like actual people. The monster designs are all pretty good, they definitely look the part of typical survivor horror monsters, and some of them definitely look like deranged versions of typical animals. Square definitely knew what they were doing in this department.
The pre-rendered backgrounds are all pretty good. The American arm of the development team did a great job getting the images of New York City in, and you feel like you’re actually there.
The soundtrack is pretty good, it does have a melancholy horror movie feel to it, probably to add to the horror aspect of the survival horror genre. There’s a lot of bass heavy instruments and ambient elements in the music.
Parasite Eve is a pretty solid game. It’s a nice change of pace from typical Squaresoft RPG’s and combines enough elements of both RPG’s and survival horror to cross fans of both genres. The game can be a challenge at times, but the majority of the game adds enough difficulty to make it fun. Also luckily the game is pretty short for Square standards, taking roughly 8ish hours to beat the main game, it’s definitely not super long to scare off those interested in it compared to other RPG’s with their daunting 30+ hours of gameplay.