13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim preview Nintendo Switch performance optimization great port Atlus Vanillaware 2020 sleeper cult hit

When publisher Atlus and developer Vanillaware launched 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim worldwide in 2020, it became the cult hit of the year. Fans and critics alike largely loved it. The only hitch was that it launched exclusively on PlayStation 4, meaning a lot of people missed out on it. But mercifully, that is about to change. Atlus is finally giving 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim a Nintendo Switch port, and after playing through the prologue in preview, I can say confidently that nothing has been lost in the transition.

Since The Escapist already has a full, glowing review of the PlayStation 4 version, I won’t rehash the nitty-gritty details of the game. Long story short: 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is half sci-fi visual novel, half real-time-with-pause strategy game with giant robots. You follow the stories of 13 different protagonists living in different time periods in Japan, ranging from the World War II era to the distant future. Naturally, there is also a lot of time travel involved — as well as robot kaiju invaders that seem to be a threat to Japan in multiple timelines.

You hop in and out of each protagonist’s separate storyline, witnessing story events out of order. However, there is an artistry to how Vanillaware doles out information, creating mystery upon mystery that is exciting to explore. Every time you think you’ve figured out “the truth,” the game will share a new twist that throws everything back into disarray. People who enjoy a great story with strong characters will eat it up, even when the narrative gets a little bit extra wild toward the end.

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim preview Nintendo Switch performance optimization great port Atlus Vanillaware 2020 sleeper cult hit

It will be even easier to enjoy 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim with the portability of Nintendo Switch. I took all of the screenshots for this article while playing handheld, and it’s hard to notice much, if any difference between them and the PlayStation 4 release. On one hand, 13 Sentinels isn’t a technically demanding game in the first place, so it makes sense that a port could be well optimized for Switch. On the other hand, all of the breathtaking hand-drawn 2D art Vanillaware created would look gorgeous on any platform.

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim preview Nintendo Switch performance optimization great port Atlus Vanillaware 2020 sleeper cult hit

I never noticed any slowdown or hiccups in the gameplay either, whether in the story or during battle against several dozens of moving units. The load times are perfectly manageable as well. I did only play as far as through the 13 Sentinels prologue for this Switch preview, but the prologue lasts around three hours (The game takes its time getting started.) and does a good job of showcasing all of the technical elements of the game. I didn’t experience what happens when the battlefield is completely clogged with enemy units though, so I should note it’s at least possible there could be lag in that specific scenario.

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim preview Nintendo Switch performance optimization great port Atlus Vanillaware 2020 sleeper cult hit

But basically, in everything I previewed, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim feels exactly the same on Nintendo Switch as it does on PlayStation 4. That’s the best news I can possibly give. This is a bizarre chimera of a game that attracts both people who don’t usually play visual novels (me) and people who also don’t usually play real-time strategy games (also me). It’s a fantastic and imaginative sci-fi mystery with beautiful visuals and satisfying, not overly difficult combat. If you’ve never played 13 Sentinels for any reason but own a Switch, you really might want to consider checking it out.

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim launches on Nintendo Switch on April 12, 2022.

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