After noting how easy Day One was, I have to say that Day Two is a huge step up. I didn’t
remember it being difficult, but after running straight through and not taking on any
unnecessary battles in this playthrough, the bosses were a bit tough– I had no healing
items left by the time I’d finished with Eve for the night…fighting her, that is.
Since I’ve been carefully ignoring any sort of gameplay mechanics in favor of recapping the story thus far, this battle-heavy sequence presents a good time to finally explain them a
little; it’s the battle system, as much as the story, that made PE a standout RPG of its
Belated Battle Mechanics (skip if easily bored)
Parasite Eve is unique in that it may very well be the only RPG in which you will ever want
more random battles than the game provides you. Battles can only occur at specific places on the field map, and every time you get into a battle at that location, the percent chance of getting into another one at that spot goes down. I’m not sure how the numbers break down exactly, but it seems like your first trip over any battle point comes with a 100% probability of an encounter, then 50%, and it seems to drop prodigiously after that. While it’s still not impossible to do some grinding, obviously it becomes increasingly impractical to do so.
Now, this may seem great compared to a lot of RPGs where you get into about 50,000
random battles per millisecond (and to add insult to injury, you can get through most of them by just keeping the “Attack” button pressed while you try not to fall asleep), but ironically PE has one of the least tedious battle systems of any RPG I’ve ever played. It’s very strange that one of the best strategies for coping with random-battle-tedium was implemented in a game that didn’t really need it.
In battle, you control Aya’s movement around the field while her ATB bar fills, and when
her turn comes up, she can either attack with her weapon, cast a spell, or do a small
number of other predictable things. Sounds pretty average, right? The important
feature here is the fact that you control Aya’s movement whenever she isn’t currently
performing an action, meaning you can dodge enemy attacks.
Many of the fields are rather cramped, and when there are multiple enemies spamming different attacks in all directions dodging becomes nigh impossible, so it’s not quite as good in practice as it sounds in theory. However, it is tremendously satisfying when you manage to dodge all of an enemy’s attacks and take no damage, and at least when you get hit with a big attack, you know that it’s actually your fault that you didn’t move Aya out of the way in time. This freedom of movement is like a breath of fresh air in the realm of RPG battles, and the benefits go beyond giving the game a bit of action flavor; you have incentive to learn to play skillfully and dodge as many attacks as possible, because the more enemy attacks you avoid, the more bonus points you can rack up.
Bonus points can be used to beef up Aya’s attributes or that of her weapons, and players
who make judicious use of their bonus points will have a much, much easier time with the
final sequence of bosses. The one problem with bonus points is that improvements to Aya’s character stats are useless long term, since her stats don’t carry over into New Game +, although her weapons do. It’s kind of a shame that it’s not practical to customize Aya’s stats; it’s very tempting to do it during your first playthrough, but it will only hurt you later if you do.
Eve, Live in Concert: The “Melt Them All To Slime” Tour
Aya finds her way to the amphitheater, and is led backstage by a ghostly figure in the
form of a child who looks suspiciously like Aya…and who’s also made several appearances in the game so far that I apparently failed to mention. Look, there’s a lot of stuff going on in this game, okay? I promise I’ll tell you about all the sexy parts.
Anyway, it’s been made obvious by this point that Aya has a pretty good idea who the ghost is, but this information hasn’t been revealed to the player yet. Eve is on stage babbling something about her plans for world domination, and while you might wonder why no one leaves the theater once they discover that their songstress is a crazy mutated fascist, I think it would be really fascinating in a train-wreck sort of way. Aya arrives at the “concert” just in time to see Eve melt the audience’s flesh into slime, and the slime becomes one big conglomeration and trickles out of the theater. I was seriously creeped out by this scene the first time I saw it; people dying is one thing, but having goop poor out of their eyes sockets? Ewww. Once eye sockets are involved, I stop making jokes.
Aya runs on stage and points her gun at Eve, because apparently that worked so well the
last two times that she’s going to go for a third– okay, I know I should stop complaining
about that, it’s just a pet peeve of mine that characters shouldn’t point guns at each
other for long periods of time: Either shoot the bitch or don’t. Eve murmurs a few more
cryptic things and then takes off, and Aya sets off through Central Park to find her.
More combat with mutated animal life ensues en route.
You know, all this shooting the local wildlife business is starting to remind me of Tomb Raider. At least there are no bears, right?
Oh FUCK, it’s another bear. Goddammit! How many of you do I have to kill, and in how many different videogames– HOW MANY? If I have to play every game ever made to rid the world of your foul kind, including games from the 32X and WonderSwan portable, so help me God I will do it. I WILL END YOU.
Boss Gauntlet; Aya Still Has No Offensive Spells, Doesn’t Care
The first Boss Fight is against a bunch of worms that shoot projectiles that are extremely
hard to avoid (each projectile shatters into multiples), and as each worm goes down, the
remaining ones grow bigger, until you’re left with a giant worm several stories tall. I’m
sure there is a horrible hentai joke in there somewhere, but we’re all far too mature and
classy to care, right? Let’s pretend that we are.
I haven’t mentioned Aya’s spells for a while, since they haven’t been terribly useful; the
only ones of any real use are the heals. There’s almost never a need to scan anything,
Detox is a waste of a turn since you’d be better off attacking the monster that poisoned
you than trying to cure a status that it can easily inflict on you again, and Barrier is too
costly in PE to be worth using.
It’s possible to have Energy Shot, Aya’s first and arguably best offensive power by this
point in the game, but I didn’t have it on this playthrough; I’m assuming I was somewhat
over-leveled on past playthroughs, and you’re not expected to have it at this point in the
game. So Aya’s Parasite Energy arsenal basically consists of being able to heal herself, and being able to heal herself a little more. Oh well; Day 3 is when the PE powers become more interesting. Seriously. Not even kidding.
So I got hit by the criss-crossing projectiles, quaffed a lot of medicines, and cast a lot
of heal spells, and then the worms bit the dust and Aya caught up to Eve. Eve is cordial
and invites Aya onto a horse-drawn carriage with her, an offer which Aya accepts. I’ve
read criticism of this scene stating that it would be incredibly stupid for Aya to step
into such an obvious trap, but I disagree. More than anything, Aya is dying to know
what’s going on with her own body and this mitochondria nonsense, and Eve is the only one who knows what’s going on: It’s kind of a seller’s market as far as that information is concerned.
It’s weird, hundreds of people have already died in this game, yet the fact that Eve sets
the poor horse on fire that has always bothered me. In any case, it’s time for another
boss fight: Eve in the carriage. This is one of those set-piece boss fights that isn’t supposed to be hard as much as dramatic, which is only fair since we just endured a fairly hard boss fight. At this point in the game Eve is still trying to recruit Aya rather than kill her; she tries to explain to Aya what their connection is by touching her and triggering another one of Aya’s flashbacks, but since the flashback is as vague and incomprehensible as they usually are, she fails to do so. Annoyed at her repeated failure to get through to Aya, Eve takes off, the carriage crashes, and Aya is knocked unconscious.
The story switches to Daniel, who is overjoyed when Ben runs out of Central Park unharmed. How Ben survived the Big Slime Incident is somewhat dubious, but I can’t really fault the developers for letting the seven-year-old boy have a stroke of luck and not get murdered. Daniel’s Ex, however, is now part of the slime mass, and it seems like Ben is in denial about what happened. Another nice little touch in the storyline is that Ben doesn’t appear too affected when his mother dies in front of him, because it’s just so traumatic that he can’t deal with it, but when a dog he likes dies, that’s when Eve’s reign of terror becomes real for him.
Okay, and then it happens, the dumbest thing that happens in PE, and quite possibly the
entire PS1 era, even including Spawn and whatever that crappy platformer was with the
purple thing. Baker and co. decide that in light of this whole Eve thing, they’re going to
evacuate New York City, effective immediately– no, that’s not the dumb part. I’m getting
to that. In response to this, one of the cops says that the evacuation will be relatively
easy, since most people are out of the city for Christmas.
Less people in NYC, at Christmas? Are they insane? I know this game is science fiction,
but that is just pushing it.
Also during this sequence, Daniel is ordered by Baker to help the other cops, at which
point he literally tells Baker to screw himself and runs out to look for Aya. Good man.
Maeda: He Has Contacted The Police About This Matter
The FMV of the city being evacuated does look properly chaotic, and it’s at this point
we’re formally introduced to our last major character: Kunihiko Maeda, a Japanese
scientist specializing in mitochondria and with a Titanic-sized crush on Aya,
starting in about three minutes. Maeda is a likeable, if somewhat stereotypical
character– Metal Gear Solid fans could think of him as the Otacon to Aya’s Solid Snake, only less chatty and without the sick incestuous relationships (and I can’t believe I actually
just referenced Metal Gear Solid 2 without provocation.)
Some cops are keeping Maeda from entering the city due to the evacuation, and Maeda’s
claims that he has “contacted the police about this matter”; I like the fact that a garbled
phone call to Baker now counts in Maeda’s mind as security clearance. He isn’t getting far
with this plan until one of the officers spontaneously combusts, at which point Maeda
scampers off during the ensuing panic. Remember this bit, it will be important in Day
Aya wakes up in a dilapidated room with Maeda (no NOT LIKE THAT; I think Maeda would have a stroke if he even thought about it), and Daniel enters; apparently he and Maeda met while searching for Aya. At this point a long dialogue ensues where Maeda tells our team about his work on a related case in Japan, and the pair brings Maeda up to speed on Eve’s current hijinks. To summarize a fairly long story, the incident that Maeda studied
involved a girl manifesting the Eve personality after an organ transplant, and since her
body couldn’t handle the strain of the advanced mitochondria, she wanted to have a baby
that would live on in her place. So the scientist impregnated her (didn’t I tell you
never to trust those scientists?), only his mitochondria rebelled, and the monstrous
baby died in his arms. Cheery. Maeda, in turn, is flabbergasted at Aya’s apparent immunity to Eve.
At this point, Aya proceeds to freak the hell out, babbling that she’s terrified that
she’ll end up killing Daniel because she’s a monster. It may be a little cliche, but it
makes perfect sense: this is the point where Aya is considering pulling a Dark
Phoenix and killing herself before she turns evil and kills anyone else, though it’s never
explicitly stated. Considering the fact that Aya’s only special powers at this point
are different forms of healing, realistically she’s probably in more danger of clearing
up Daniel’s sinus infection than killing him, but whatever. I like the fact that it’s after Eve talks to her as a peer that Aya really starts to freak out.
Daniel reassures Aya that she isn’t a monster, which we know isn’t actually reassuring to
her because he doesn’t even know that she has powers at this point. Maeda and Daniel both leave Aya to sleep like the gentlemen they are, and Aya wonders if the strange feeling she had when Eve touched her was a memory of Maya, who “Died in the car crash with Mom.” The little ghostly girl is also Maya, incidentally.
And so concludes Day Two. Wow, that was long. Day Three begins with Aya and Daniel taking advantage of the evacuation to loot local small businesses, and Ben mysteriously survives mortal peril yet again. He’s like a cockroach, that kid.