Looking Back at a JRPG / Horror Classic

The next entry in Gamers Nightmare is what happens when you take Resident Evil and turn it into a JRPG. Released for the PlayStation back in 1998 for the PlayStation, Parasite Eve was a unique horror survival that incorporated JRPG gameplay and cinematics into the experience.

Parasite Eve was released at a time in which horror survival was starting to grow while video games were experimenting with new ideas. For SquareSoft, the predecessor to Square Enix, it was their first horror game and the first Mature rated title. Thus, they went all out to leave a lasting mark among horror gamers that is remembered to this day. Gamers Nightmare will look back at Parasite Eve and its overall legacy.  

Birth of Eve

Before going into the game, it helps to understand the franchise overall. It began with the novel Parasite Eve by Hideaki Sena. A cell dubbed Mitochondria Eve (or Eve for short) has emerged and it’s attempting to become the dominant species. To do so, it sets a series of events in motion to breed a new superior organisms. Meanwhile, a group of scientists are working to stop Eve before its plan comes to fruition. 

The success of the novel led to a film adaptation along with the game that we all know. While you don’t need to have read the book to understand the game, it helps to understand the lore. Plus the game has several moments that are a nod to events in the book.

Christmas Eve 1997

Set several years after the events of the novel, the story begins with Aya Brea, a detective in the N.Y.P.D., attending an opera on Christmas Eve. In a surreal turn of events, the entire audience spontaneously combusts, leaving only Aya and the lead singer, Melissa Pearce, unscathed. Aya attempts to confront Melissa, only to witness her transformation and utter consumption by Eve. Simultaneously, an enigmatic power awakens within Aya, bestowing upon her the ability to resist Eve’s influence.

During the course of a few nights, Aya pursues Eve in an attempt to stop her while uncovering what is happening. After meeting with Dr. Kunihiko Maeda, it’s revealed that Eve has been making a second attempt at breeding a new organism. Thus, Aya must do whatever it takes to stop Eve before it gives life to the Ultimate Being.

Parasite Eve gameplay was a mix of horror survival with JRPG elements. The horror survival elements included having to fight mutants while being limited in resources. Players will have a limited number of ammo and provisions while also having to make do with whatever they can find. Its JRPG aspect was in regard to combat and the concept of Parasite Energy (PE). A stand-in for magic, PE gave Aya the ability to heal or attack based on several elements. The combat itself was the standard turn base with players aiming and attacking followed by a response from the enemy. 

The Ultimate Being

Parasite Eve was released for the PlayStation in 1998, quickly garnering widespread acclaim from both critics and gamers. It was praised for its artistic design and its innovative take on the survival horror genre. Some critics even compared it to Resident Evil. Fans of the horror icon would take that as a compliment since they overwhelmingly enjoyed it. Even to this day, it has been the Resident Evil fandom that has been advocating for a Parasite Eve remake.

When you compare Parasite Eve to other horror games of its time and now, there really isn’t anything like it. Its artistic design, hard science elements, and colorful but grotesque style put it in a league of its own. Most of this came down to the many confrontations Aya and Eve would have over the course of the game. Even though it was held back by the software limitations of the time, its cutscenes were still stunning even to this day. Looking back now, you have to appreciate all the PlayStation hallmarks it had and more. 

The Next Eve

Its success was followed by Parasite Eve II in 1999, which has been a divisive entry among fans. Then there was an attempt to reboot the series with The 3rd Birthday, which was universally panned and killed the series. While no attempts have been made to remake or reboot Parasite Eve, there has been an expressed interest among some leaders at Square Enix. For now, fans will just have to wait and see.

Even though it has been 25 years since its release, Parasite Eve remains an iconic horror game and a staple of the PlayStation. It was a unique horror survival experience thanks to its JRPG elements and artistic design. No other game has been able to create such an experience, which makes it a unique game. 

Did you ever play Parasite Eve and what are your thoughts on it? Let us know in the comment section. 

8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides insight into the video game community and industry of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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