13 Sentinels is a masterpiece and it’s even better on Switch
One of the finest PS4 titles finds a new home and maybe a larger audience.
Thousands of words have been written on why you should play 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, an innovative computer game that mixes a century of science-fiction cliches into something unexpectedly fresh. Its tale is universal in many ways, and its structure cleverly blurs the boundary between a visual novel and a master’s thesis in genre fiction. Having said that, I can see why most readers overlooked #15 on Polygon’s Top 50 Games of 2020 list.
13 Sentinels, like the game’s young heroes, has always been one step behind the kaiju hellbent on destroying the Earth. The game was launched on PlayStation 4 just weeks before the debut of the PlayStation 5, which was a horrible timing for a 2D game that could have possibly ran on the PlayStation 3. The game is now available on Nintendo Switch. With a few significant releases in the next month, this small masterpiece should finally get the attention it deserves.
Okay, so it’s fantastic, but why should anyone play a game that has no ties to an existing brand, superhero, or general intellectual property? Because you’re rare to come across anything that’s both this refined and this batshit – in the greatest manner imaginable.
The narrative takes place in 1984, as well as a few places in the past and future, beginning in 1945 and ending in… well, I won’t spoil everything for you. You may play through the adventures of 13 different characters in whatever order you like. You’ll gradually discover about their adolescent life, including their relationships, rivalries, motives, and dreams. And you’ll find out why they need to operate mechs to combat kaiju in the far future.
The game doesn’t so much reference or draw from science fiction as it pulls entire ideas from the canon and grafts them onto one enormous mega-fiction. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you combined E.T., Godzilla, The Terminator, The Matrix, War of the Worlds, and a couple of dozen more masterpieces into one text that, despite all odds, kind of, kind of makes sense, I’ve got the game for you!
13 Sentinels is just half of the game. It plays like a point-and-click adventure with branching conversation options. In addition to the advent, the game includes a real-time strategy game and its own wiki. They’re a whole bag of worms that you can read about in our original review, but one thing to notice about the Switch port: On a 4K TV, the strategic components seemed a little off, but they fit wonderfully on the smaller portable Switch screen.
I realize that saying a game is ideal for Switch is an old term, but this game is amazing for Switch in a unique way. It’s convenient to be able to play this text-heavy game on the road, but what makes Switch the ideal home for 13 Sentinels is the ability to switch between portable and TV modes. The mobility is ideal for slogging through mech fights or revisiting character sequences for clues. When I begin a new tale, though, I prefer the TV mode, which displays the game’s exquisite hand-drawn visuals on a bigger screen. I would not advocate playing the full game on a television, like I did with the PS4 version.But I recommend that you take pauses from portable mode now and then to enjoy how wonderful this game can be.
There’s a lot more I could say about this game, like how it piles twists on top of each other like a turtle tower, never toppling beneath the weight of the story. Though reading more would ruin the enjoyment – and believe me, you’ll be doing plenty of reading once you start the game. I’ve written a lot about why this game means so much to me. Now it’s up to you to decide whether or not to play.
13 Sentinels was published for Nintendo Switch on April 12 and is also available on PlayStation 4.