13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim Game Poster Image
Hybrid adventure/strategy game is unique but confusing.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The game features themes of teamwork, friendship, and sacrifice. There's also an ongoing theme of not judging people by initial impressions, but rather in discovering who they really are. While the main characters all have their own reasons for fighting back kaiju, they're all ultimately fighting for survival of the future.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There are more than a dozen different protagonists that players control at any given time, and they have a wide range of personalities, from kind-hearted and caring to cold and calculating to angry and delinquent. Many have deeper layers that players can discover, but other rarely stray far from their initial impressions.

Ease of Play

The game combines two distinct styles into one package. The analysis side seems straightforward, but it's easy to overlook certain clues or to miss an update in the Thought Cloud and leaving players stuck for answers. The battle portions take a lot of quick thinking and strategic planning, with players trying to manage the chaotic action on the fly.

Violence

The battle portion features a lot of explosions and destruction as the giant Sentinels and the kaiju duke it out through the city. The story portions feature some violence as well, with characters occasionally shooting and electrocuting others, though there's no blood shown onscreen.

Sex

There's some partial nudity in one scene, with a female character covering her chest with her arms. There's also a plot thread that has some reference to gender fluidity.

Language

Some minor profanity, such as "s--t," occasionally appears in the dialogue.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a science fiction themed hybrid adventure/strategy game available for the PlayStation 4. Players follow thirteen teenagers over multiple time periods as they work to change history and stop an invasion in the future from causing the end of the world. Part of the game is a 2D exploration adventure, with players searching for clues and talking to characters, creating branching plots that change the course of the overall story. The other part is a top-down strategy game, with players controlling giant Sentinel mechs, defending key locations from attacks by creatures called kaiju. The game has lots of destruction and explosions during battles, but no blood or gore shown onscreen. The story mode features some scenes of violence, including showing characters shooting and electrocuting others. There's some partial nudity and profanity as well, including occasional use of "s--t" in dialogue.

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What's it about?

13 SENTINELS: AEGIS RIM is a tale of teen drama and human survival, set against the backdrop of an alien invasion and the coming apocalypse. In the distant future, the world has been ravaged by alien invaders. These massive creatures have pushed the human race to the brink of total extinction. In a desperate attempt to save all of humanity, a last-ditch effort is made to send a glimmer of hope into the past … a way to possibly fend off the kaiju forces before they ever get their stranglehold on the planet. This hope lies with the Sentinels, massive mechanical war machines and instruments of destruction that can only be piloted by a chosen few. These heroes are scattered through time, from the bleak era of World War 2 to the pop culture kitsch of the 1980s, and on into the future's rapidly approaching end of days. Players will explore the different eras, building relationships that will affect how future (and event past) events might unfold. Meanwhile, as the kaiju threat appears, it's up to each of these thirteen Sentinel pilots to suit up and take the fight to the enemy, fending off waves of enemy forces while trying to stop the destined invasion once and for all.

Is it any good?

Some games tell their deep, engaging story with a solid plot in a straightforward path from beginning to end, instead of plot threads are a tangled bunch of knots to try and pull apart. In 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, players control a whopping thirteen different protagonists, each with their own distinct stories, relationships, and purpose in the overall plot. Even more confusing, thanks to the back and forth time-travel hijinks, little things said or done in one era can have big ramifications in another, assuming if you realize you've even done anything. The game keeps an updated selection of key phrases that evolve over time as the characters interact with one another. But players don't necessarily know exactly what they should be looking for in order to make progress. So one missed clue early on might come back to haunt them later, forcing a "do over" of the chapter's events. It's a convoluted mess that's frustratingly difficult to keep track of. Eventually, things start to come together and make sense, but it never stops feeling like you've opened up a book or started watching a movie somewhere in the middle and are simply playing catch up.

When players aren't trying to seek out clues to make sense of the story, they're suiting up for battle in their giant Sentinel mechanized suits and taking the fight to the kaiju in top-down real-time strategy battles. Sentinels come in one of three different models, each complete with a certain battlefield specialization (melee, long range, or all around) and can be customized with attacks and abilities. These battles show off the power of the Sentinels and their importance to the future of humanity. For players, this means living out their mech vs. monster fantasies, carving out a swath of destruction through wave after wave of kaiju forces. There's a lot going on at any given time and it can be difficult to follow all the action, but thankfully players can pause the action and think through their strategies on the fly. In the end, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim almost tries too hard to do too much. It takes some time (no pun intended), but eventually the gameplay and the story begin to mesh into an entertaining, yet confusing, experience.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about decisions and consequences. What are some ways that choices we make today might not only affect our immediate future, but also have long term consequences?

  • What does the phrase "don't judge a book by its cover" mean, and how does it apply to life? What are the risks of making snap judgments without giving an opportunity discover more?

Game details

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For kids who love science fiction

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