13 Sentinels review: PS4 masterpiece hits Nintendo Switch

We’ve posted thousands of words about why you should play 13 Guardians: Aegis RimA daring video game that combines a century of science fiction into something new and unpredictable. Its story is universal through multiple definitions of the word, and its structure successfully blurs the line between visual novel and a master’s thesis in genre fiction. However, I understand why most readers skipped the 15th place on Polygon’s list of the 50 best games of 2020.

Like the game’s teenage protagonists, always a step behind kaiju hellbet in destroying the world, 13 guards Suffered from poor timing. The title was released on PlayStation 4 in the weeks leading up to the launch of PlayStation 5, which is a bad time for a 2D game that might have been played on PlayStation 3. Today, the game finally came out on the Nintendo Switch. With a few major releases over the next month, we hope this little masterpiece finally gets the big audience it deserves.

Two friends ride a motorcycle in Japan in the 80s at 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim on Switch

Photo: Vanillaware/Atlus

Well, it’s cool, but why should anyone actually play this game without any connection to an established franchise, superhero or public intellectual property? Because you’re not likely to play anything that polished while being that bat – in the best possible way.

The story is set in the year 1984, along with a few past and future points, early 1945 and even later… well, I won’t spoil that for you. You will play through the adventures of 13 characters in episodic parts in the order you choose. Gradually, you’ll learn about their teenage life, including romance, rivalries, motivations, and fantasies. And you’ll discover why they must command the mechanisms to fight the Kaiju in the mysterious distant future.

The game doesn’t refer to or borrow from science fiction, so much as it rips whole ideas out of science fiction canon, grafting them into one massive, brutal fantasy. If you ever wondered what would happen if you remix ET, Godzilla, The Terminator, The Matrix, War of the Worlds, And dozens of other classics in one script somehow, against all odds, kind of, kind of made sense, then I’ve got the game for you!

13 guardsWhich plays kind of like a point-and-click adventure with branching dialogue options, it’s only half the game. The game also features a real-time strategy game and its own wiki, both of which expand upon coming. It’s a whole can of worms that you can recognize from our original review, but one note for the Switch: The strategy elements looked a bit funky on a 4K TV, but they fit perfectly on the Switch’s smaller portable screen.

Saying the game is perfect for the Switch is a tiresome statement, I know, but this game is perfect for the Switch in a different way than usual. It’s nice to play this text-packed game on the go, but what makes the Switch the perfect home for 13 Sentinels is the option to switch between portable and TV modes. When I struggle with mech battles or revisit character sequences for clues, portability is perfect. However, when I start a new story, I prefer the TV mode, as it displays the wonderful hand-drawn game art on a larger screen. I wouldn’t recommend playing the whole game on TV – as I did with the PS4 version. But I encourage you to take breaks from the portable mode every now and then to appreciate how beautiful this game is.

There’s a lot for me to tell you about this game, like how the twists stack on top of each other like a turtle tower, without collapsing under all that narrative weight. Although reading more would spoil the fun – and trust me, you’ll be doing a lot of reading once you play the game anyway. I’ve written a lot about why this game is so important to the world to me. Now I leave it to all of you to decide whether you want to turn it on or not.

13 guards It was released on April 12 on the Nintendo Switch and is also available on PlayStation 4. The game was reviewed using a download code provided by Atlus. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. you can find Additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy is here.