Parasite Eve’s Big Endgame Twist Still Feels Groundbreaking 25 Years Later
The original Parasite Eve is a unique horror game. The plot is a mix of a popular Japanese horror novel and leftover remnants of one of the early concepts for Final Fantasy VII, with the gameplay mixing RPG and survival elements. While it never reached the level of fame that Silent Hill or Resident Evil did, it remains an exceptional piece of game design — even 25 years later as it celebrates that milestone anniversary on March 29, 2023. One of its most unique aspects is a true ending hidden behind a challenging dungeon only accessible after the first playthrough of the game, in a devilish twist on New Game+.
The New York City skyline has several iconic buildings. As a game that takes place on the island of Manhattan, Parasite Eve fully embraces this by making every location in the game a neighborhood or specific building recognizable to even those who don’t live in the city.
The game’s beautiful opening cinematic starts with a shot of the Statue of Liberty with downtown in the background and the Twin Towers looking out above everything else, then it quickly dives into the streets of the city passing Rockefeller Center on the camera’s way towards Carnegie Hall. All of this is represented by a 3D map of the island that the player uses to travel to different locations to progress the story.
Prominently featured on the map is the Chrysler Building. It is a suggestion that something lies in wait for you there. This is again suggested to the player by cutscenes that show protagonist Aya Brea looking at the building and observing a strange glow coming from its upper level. However, the player never actually enters the Chrysler Building. At least not the first time around.
The conclusion to the main story occurs on Liberty Island, with Aya defeating the villain Eve and saving New York from a dangerous evolution of mitochondria. If the player starts a new playthrough, called EX-Game, they will begin from the story’s start but with the majority of their weapons, armor, and times from their completed save. They will also be able to travel to the Chrysler Building at the first opportunity to open the map.
What greats the player is a beautiful if eerie art deco lobby. They enter and begin the most challenging piece of content in Parasite Eve. The Chrysler Building is not just another mission location, but instead, a massive multi-level dungeon that the player must progress through to reach a final boss at the top. There are 77 floors in the Chrysler Building, an accurate ode to the 77 actual floors in the real Chrysler Building.
Every tenth floor, as well as floor 77, is a boss fight. All the other floors in the Chrysler Building are randomized dungeons full of difficult enemies. This transforms the new game+ into a dungeon crawler akin to Persona 3’s Tartarus more than anything experienced in the first playthrough of Parasite Eve. At the very tip of the Chrysler Building, in one confined room dotted with the signature triangular windows, the final boss lies: Truebred Eve.
The fight is rightfully hard, demonstrating how powerful Truebred Eve is. It also is a narrative culmination of many plot threads left hanging in the first playthrough to tantalize the player. Truebred Eve is connected to Aya’s dead twin sister Maya as well as the plot of the original Parasite Eve novel from which the game was born. All of this payoff is hidden behind the toughest challenge in the game. Just reaching Truebred Eve takes about as long as the entire length of a playthrough of the main game, nearly seven hours.
This true ending is a reflection of everything special that Parasite Eve aimed to accomplish. It is still in line with the survival horror tone and action that the game wants to emulate, similar in style to the more popular Resident Evil. Like that series EX-Game offers a second new way to experience the game, giving it replay value. But this has a unique Square Enix twist to it, by challenging the player even more with an entirely new dungeon that focuses on strategic combat to complete in pursuit of a narrative reward.