I have heard that many people say that survival horror and the roleplaying game genres don't mix. I heavily disagree. Sweet Home, arguably the first ever survival horror, was also an RPG. These two genres have been married since the beginning, but few manage to capture the best aspects of both genres the way Parasite Eve does.

Set in December 1997, the plot, which is a direct sequel to the novel of the same name, follows NYPD officer Aya Brea and her partner Daniel as they try solve the case of Melissa, a woman possessed by a mitochondrial entity known as Eve, who burns the audience of the New York Metropolitan Opera on Christmas Eve. What follows is a twisting tale that is one part hard science fiction, one part David Cronenberg horror, one part buddy cop film, one part kaiju monster film, and one part stat grinding RPG. It's a wonderful amalgamation the likes of which would never be made in today's video game climate.

Graphically, this game still holds up when it's upscaled. Character models, while low poly, have a certain charm and liveliness to them, in no small part thanks to Tetsuya Nomura's art style. Nomura, in my opinion, has always been a good character designer, despite his quirks, and Parasite Eve as a series is easily some of his best work. This is also some of Yoko Shimomura's best work as a composer. This was one of the first times she had access to disc based media for composition, and she made an extra effort to craft something special.

In terms of gameplay, it's a real time system where you pause and issue commands. It's very similar to a Final Fantasy game, but unlike the Final Fantasies of the era, all combat takes place on the field. It might seem basic at first, but there's a shocking amount of depth, especially when one gets into the gun modification aspect of the combat.

It was also one of the the first horror games to ditch tank controls. It proved that you didn't need tank controls to make a horror game. If I had a few complaints, it's that the game can a be a little unfair in its final segments. In particular, escaping the final boss after you defeat it is annoying, especially because if it captures you, it's game over, and you have to fight him all over, and this is from the era that you can't skip cutscenes. The translation of the game isn't the best either at times, but it's still better than what Capcom was doing with Resident Evil at the time.

There is no other game like Parasite Eve. Even its sequels play nothing like this game. If you like horror games, RPG games, or just sci-fi horror, you owe it to yourself to at least try it. I say pick it up off PSN before the PS3 store is taken down permanently, whenever that may be.

Side note, every time they said "mitochondria", I thought "It's the powerhouse of the cell" like I was some kind of sleeper agent and that was my killphrase. Thanks, American Public School System.

Reviewed on May 17, 2024