Tactical RPGs are all the rage at the moment and dedicated fans cannot get enough. I blame Triangle Strategy for my newfound addiction, amongst others. But if you haven’t tackled this genre before, now that 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is available on Nintendo Switch, it’s the perfect time to hop onto the strategic bandwagon and settle in for an epic story of world-destroying proportions. Let’s ride!
A Tale of Seismic Proportions
The story of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a bold one. Featuring an ensemble cast where each protagonist gets equal screen time is no easy feat – and in a time travel-based narrative no less – the devs truly knocked it out of the park here. Each main character has their own intriguing motivations and goals they want to achieve, in a world full of mech-ravaged war and chaos. When the big moments hit, they hit hard.
While the time travel aspect can be a little inconsistent and head-scratching at times, it doesn’t detract much from the proceedings or fall into the dreaded paradox territory, as the story is ultimately quite simple to follow with its visual novel style setup. But don’t worry, even if you’re not a fan of this approach, you can still move your player character around, look for clues and soak in the gorgeous art design at the same time. What’s not to love?
Every cast member gathers their own thoughts and evidence they can present to others as the story progresses. There are also diverging timelines that are checkpointed, so players can always go back and find new story beats and information they might’ve missed on their first outing. These gameplay sections are pretty straightforward, albeit the level of writing and excellent voice-acting on display makes the overall investment worth it. A few players might not figure out where to go at first glance, although some careful consideration of their surroundings, thoughts and evidence won’t leave them stuck for long.
Mech-Battling in 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
After the prologue’s complete, the game actually splits the tactical RPG fights and visual novel sections into two distinct categories. So if the player completes more of the latter, they could potentially fight several battles back to back. They will need to switch between both modes at some point to advance the story, but it is neat how players can decide what to focus on. The battles themselves are a mix of real-time and turn-based strategy, with each of the 13 Sentinels having a cool-down period between actions where time only stops when entering commands. This makes combat a lot easier to manage, letting the units move around and then stop to better line up attacks when the enemy draws closer in real-time. Overall, it’s quite a simple system to learn that feels mighty intuitive.
Units are divided up into classes like tank, all-rounder, air support and long-range which all have their own distinct specialities and skills. Players can also purchase, upgrade and swap out new abilities after battle, as well as bust out limit-break style functions from their FOB. The game actually forces you to change up your party too, as the Sentinels can only be used for two consecutive battles per unit. Unless you manually reset their exposure, which will remove your Win Streak score multiplier for extra goodies. This is a great way to encourage experimentation, as most strategy gamers normally stick to their favourites. One minor issue I have with battles though is that some of the enemies and information on screen can be a bit tricky to read or spot, especially when playing in handheld mode on Nintendo Switch. But besides that, it’s a highly satisfying tactical affair. The music and sound effects really help amp up the intensity too. Especially those explosion bangs and booms! Very satisfying.
Sooner or later, players will be EMP blasting away shields, piercing through armour, intercepting missiles and taking down kaijus with ease. And I say the word “ease” because even on the Intense difficulty setting, these guys aren’t that big of a threat. Sure, maybe the later battles will give players a run for their money. But unless you start acting like a complete fool, the game won’t provide much of a challenge, which is disappointing. While there are bonus objectives that make the encounters more strenuous, like utilising a specific character or deploying only 4 of a maximum 6 units, it still won’t become super difficult to win.
Like I mentioned at the start of this review, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim features an epic story full of heartfelt moments and writing that begs you to stay invested. The tactical gameplay is also top-notch, with only a couple of blemishes in the difficulty and certain HUD elements that are a tad hard to interpret. But all in all, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a gem of a strategy RPG that demands at least one full playthrough.
By Anthony Culinas – Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is another spectacular tactical RPG that combines turn-based and real-time strategy to great effect. The battles are definitely on the easier side of things and it can be a bit tricky to read the visual prompts, although 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim makes up for this with a riveting story and addictive gameplay that’ll hold your attention for the game’s 30-40 hour runtime.
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Atlus. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.