The Let's Play Archive

The 3rd Birthday

by The Dark Id

Part 35: The Fourth Birthday

New Music: The End – Back to the Beginning –

The 3rd Birthday has ended and by now any sane person would have taken this game and chucked the UMD it into a bin, uninstalled it from their absurdly overpriced proprietary memory card, or let’s be honest, it was a PSP game. More likely than not most just deleted the ISO. Regardless, most people’s time with this tire fire of a cap to the Parasite Eve series would be done. But here I am going the extra mile to give you the last bit of content to squeeze out of this rotten lemon. I like to think of it as taking everything there is to The 3rd Birthday, recording the dire content within, and letting it be studied from afar as its radioactive content remains buried in the layers of inaccessible cement that is actually owning a Sony portable console.

For the record, I only played this game the one time in earnest on the PSP when it came out, did a quick 4 hour speed run through on Easy (skipping cutscenes and every enemy possible) with the emulator to make sure I could capture footage without issue, and the actual run for the LP. I’ve unlocked absofuckinglutely none of the stuff I’m talking about in this update nor touched New Game Plus a single time nor do I ever plan to. And just as an aside: The save file with everything unlocked I downloaded seems to be legitimately done, as the file stats say the player has put 145 hours 35 minutes and 50 playthroughs of The 3rd Birthday. Good grief…

I’m going to go over the gameplay bits first for completion sake cuz I like to be thorough, even in games that don’t deserve it.

Skip down below until you see young Eve Brea’s mug. There be the story beats.

The 3rd Birthday was envisioned as a game you’d play through several times to unlock everything. The chief unlockable being all the bonus costumes I mentioned early in the LP. A reminder that the entirety of those are New Game Plus unlocks. So you know… after the revelation that we’re playing as a twelve year old child in the body of a sexy adult woman. You have to actively commit to “yep, that’s fine by me” as you dress her up in a Playboy Bunny, Sexy Santa, or Toriyama Waifu of the Year All Years Lightning Cosplay.

So there’s that.

In addition to the variety of colorful cosplay fetish outfits for Aya Brea, there are also a variety of cheat codes to unlock in order to spice up your replays. Though, the thing about the unlockable “Cheat Codes”, which is the game’s term despite just being actually menu toggles, is they come with some caveats. To begin with, they’re mostly unlocked by completing Feats in missions. The problem is… actually using any of the codes disables the ability to obtain Feats. So uhh… don’t have too much fun!

Not that you would, anyway. Of the “Cheat Codes”, there are only three that are actually cheats that actively make the game easier. The game calls these “Assist Codes”. They are as follows:

High Regen – Aya’s health rapidly regenerates when she’s idle. There’s no God Mode or anything. Aya just now regenerates health like she’s a Call of Duty protagonist. Hey, she even gets shot in the face at the end of a mission.
Health Regen is unlocked after completing the game and burning 10,000 BP to actually make the cheat available.

Free Crossfire – All NPCs can participate in a Crossfire. Normally, they must be in cover to be able to join in… mostly because their AI is already braindead enough, it doesn’t need to drop everything and eat bullets like that. So yeah… That’s 33% of the helpful cheats in the game. Breaking the AI further in situations where it might mean as many as 1-2 extra guys firing.
This has the same requirements of High Regen. Beat the game once and unlock for another 10,000 BP.

Infinite Ammo – The only actual thing I’d call a cheat. Aya has infinite ammo (and grenades) with no reloads. So she can fire grenade launcher shots for days. All the mounted weapons and vehicles (turrets/tanks/helicopters) also have their absurdly low overheat gauge disabled.

That sounds pretty fun. Maybe another quick playthrough just ruining everything would be cathartic? Well, guess what? Fuck you, pal! You need to complete the game TEN TIMES to unlock this cheat. For reference: The fastest speedrun time for the game I could find is 3:03:08 on the Easy difficulty. The total time for my playthrough for this LP was 9:52:13 (add another hour and change for untallied cutscenes.)

So you know… 30-35 hours’ worth of replaying the game for the honor of unlocking infinite ammo. Or you could go play and complete several good games. Just a thought.

On the other end of the unlockable Cheat Code spectrum, we have the bulk of the unlocks: Challenge Codes. These are all toggles that make the game actively harder (while still disabling Feats and mission rankings while giving no bonuses to BP or anything special at all) for anyone that has beaten the game dozens of times and is slowly descending into pure madness and ought to be institutionalized. Here’s what we get for a much more refreshingly vulnerable very likely to die in screaming agony, along with everyone around her, Aya Brea.

No Armor – Aya’s outfit is always at the maximum damage and cannot be repaired. Perfect if you want to play as a young woman who looks like she’d just been violently beaten and sexually assaulted in an alley as you fight inhuman mutants from the future.
Unlocked by completing four Feats in Episode 1 on Hard Mode.

Static Life – Aya’s HP is determined by the soldier she Overdives into’s maximum HP, not her own. Normally, Overdived soldier’s HP is augmented by Aya’s current level. Now she has just as much health as the tissue paper constructed soldiers.
Unlocked by completing four Feats in Episode 1 on Deadly difficulty.

No Evasion Assist – Aya loses her i-frames when rolling. Should have pumped the Adaptability stat and gotten that Agility up. Rookie mistake.
Unlocked by completing four Feats in Episode 2 on Hard.

Limited Weapons – Aya can only use her default infinite ammo 76SA handgun all the way up until she uses it to murder the real Aya Brea.
Unlocked by completing four Feats in Episode 2 on Deadly difficulty.

No Regen – Like it says, Aya is no longer a modern first person shooter protagonist.
Unlocked via completing four Feats in Episode 3 on Hard.

Level Hold – Aya Brea is reset back to Level 1 and will not gain any experience points or level up her weapons skills. Great if you want those walls of HP to take several times longer.
Unlocked by completing four Feats in Episode 3 on Deadly.

No Info – The HUD only displays Aya’s health and Liberation gauge. The radar and any combat information on people in the area is all disabled. I hope you’re good with wielding the PSP’s finicky control stick for the camera.
Unlocked by completing four Feats in Episode 4 on Hard.

Critical Illness – Aya’s HP is constantly draining away as she is afflicted with a debilitating ailment. That sounds really fun on the extended segments when Aya is only controlling a single soldier for a time.
Unlocked by completing four Feats in Episode 4’s Deadly Difficulty.

Critical Disease – Aya’s genes splicing has left her lousy with cancer. As such, her Liberation gauge only fills at 50% speed. Personally, I’d take that over my life slowly ebbing away at all times like the Critical Illness.
Episode 5. Hard Mode. FIVE Feats.

Half Ammo – All weapons’ magazine capacity and spare stock is halved. Other than the infinite ammo pistol…
Episode 5. Deadly Difficulty. Five Feats.

No Over Energy – You know all those special abilities Aya gets from that terrible RNG dictated Over Energy grid with effects that are in turn mostly random chance? Those are disabled. Wouldn’t want the occasional lucky variety in your battles.
This is unlocked by completing 75% of Feats on Hard mode.

No Cover – All those convenient waste high barriers? Gone. Even the ones made out of meat. No cover shooting for Aya. I highly doubt this is even possible on the higher difficulties.
Unlocked the same as the last one. 75% of Feats on Hard difficulty.

NPC One-hit Death – All ally NPCs will immediately burst into a fountain of screaming blood if so much as a nippy breeze brushes over them. In case Aya Brea’s ally body count wasn’t quite astonishingly high enough.
Unlocked by completing 75% of Feats on Deadly difficulty.

Friendly Fire – Aya’s wanton disregard for life extends to being able to actively shoot and murder her allies. They too can fire on Aya and damage her if she gets in the way for the smallest of revenge.
Unlocked by completing the game on Insane difficulty.

One-Hit Death – Aya Brea is a fragile little butterfly and will swoon like a frail maiden at the slightest touch damaging her delicate skin. RIP Aya Brea.
Unlocked after unlocking all other previous cheats. Terrific. I’ll get right on that.

Apart from the Cheat Codes and Protective Gear, there are also a trio of special unlockable weapons (the three listed at the top are just upgraded versions of the same gun.) There are also top tier unlockable weapons for the normal categories of weapons. But meh. Probably the best of the lot is the first one:

The gibberish assortment of letters and numbers that compose The 3rd Birthday’s faux-SAW. It’s not particularly flashy. It’s just a big ol’ heavy machinegun. It does cost a solid 100,000 BP. For each tier of the weapon. For reference, I pretty much stopped spending BP for the last two episodes of the game and only ended up with 66,660…

The T480C has zero stun capabilities, but that doesn’t matter when it absolutely destroy enemies through sheer power scale and bullet storm it spits out. I managed to take out the Helix boss from the beginning of Chapter 1 in about 30 seconds flat. Not bad.

Secondly we have the Pile Bunker. This is a massive bolt driver converted into a man-portable weapon. I do believe this has the highest damage output in the game. It can kill absolutely anything in 2-3 hits, even on the highest difficulty.

The problem is that since it is basically a melee weapon, in a game that does not otherwise have melee attacks, it has fuck all range and can only be used once before cycling a 3 second reload animation. I tried to hit a Wad for about a minute straight to no avail. Its use looks like it’s rather limited, to say the least…

Last, unlocking Toriyama’s one true love Lightning’s costume will also unlock uhh… I guess her signature weapon? Hell, I don’t remember a thing about Final Fantasy XIII. I’ll tell you one thing: It’s no Gunblade! Which Parasite Eve 2 Aya could unlock and was a sword/shotgun combo.

The Blaze Edge is an underwhelming laser shotgun. They just turned the shotgun shell effects blue. It has very good impact. But so do all shotguns. While stationary. And close range. Sure, whatever. Go away Lightning. You’re tremendously lame.

Anyway, that’s it for all the gameplay post game unlocks of note. Let’s get to the post game story stuff. Once we’ve completed the game, all of the Key Person entries in the Datalogs are to reflect their lives in this Real Aya Brea dead/Twisted never existed/High Ones never created final timeline where Eve Brea (and to a much lesser extent Kyle Madigan, who immediately got out of town) is the only one who remembers any of this bollocks transpired. The screenshot above is Eve Brea’s entire updated entry, if you’re curious. We’ll pop through these quick.

----- Kyle Madigan -----

An operative for an unofficial intelligence organization reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense. His whereabouts are currently unknown.

TDI Note: So Kyle just went and got his old government spy job back. I wonder if they asked him at all about the missing leg. He did a REAL good job of hiding it this entire game.

----- Ginger -----

Born in Munich, Germany. Her real name was Kristina Ruskin, daughter of violinist Erhard Ruskin.

She formed the rock band Time for Truth at the age of 13 to rebel against her strict father, the director of the German Symphony Orchestra. The band caught the attention of a major British record label, leading to her professional debut at fifteen. Her first album “Killing Hour” sold over two million copies, an unprecedented performance for a debut album. She moved her base of operations to the States, but disbanded Time for Truth at the age of twenty to take a break. Though followed closely by the media and her fans, she and her former bandmates played secret concerts whenever the mood his.

In the summer of 2009, she was fatally stabbed by a crazed fan in central Park.

It was revealed after her death that she had been traveling to disaster-stricken areas and working on behalf of many aid providers and relief efforts, all anonymously. Who would have expect someone with such a flashy punk-rock appearance to be involved in such quiet, diligent work? Once this news was revealed, a group of young people in England commemorated Ginger's inspirational life by establishing the Ginger Skimbleshanks Fund to help children around the world who were suffering from hunger, poverty, disaster, and war. (The fund takes its name from Ginger's favorite character in the musical Cats.)

TDI Note: Why does a character with zero lines that dies off-screen with 30 seconds of her introduction have such an in-depth biography?! And what became of rock-ninja’s career? That’s the real question.

----- Emily Jefferson -----

Emily became friends with Eve while studying at the State University of New York. She had a lot going for her: innocence, curiosity, a brilliant and insightful intellect... and a millionaire father. Emily was seen as the odd one out, not readily accepted by others.

Then there was Eve. Her gory past was a heavy burden to bear (even without any memories), and it left a deep scar on her innermost soul. The isolation both girls experienced is what brought them together. Even after she had become a High One and her mind had grown confused, Emily was still concerned about Eve's sudden disappearance and may have come to Sacrifice to look for her friend. Ginger had been Eve's musical idol.

The "Rib" mentioned in Emily's diary was none other than Eve. The Bible contends that God made Eve from Adam's rib. Why did Emily feel she had to hide Eve's identity? Perhaps she'd picked up on Eve's tragic destiny.

Born in London, England, the daughter of British banking tycoon Christopher Jefferson. Attended the State University of New York for two years starting at age 14 as part of an advanced placement college study program.

Currently works as a teaching assistant and research fellow in the university's physics department.

TDI Note: Naming their friends after biblical allusions is sure a thing 14 year old kids do. Also, nice job getting your favorite singer and her band eviscerated by proxy, Eve.

In addition to those logs, there are actual epilogue files for most of the CTI cast which are all written by Eve Brea after the game concludes. These are… locked away under completing the game several times on higher difficulties, because they’re technically classified as Emails and are unlocked after Blank’s dicking around and Maeda’s Wizard of Bad Science Corner. And that is incredibly dumb! So I’ll just cut out all of that and present everyone’s epilogue now as we wrap up this twisted knot of a narrative.

Gabrielle. She's still part of the SWAT team's hostage rescue squad, even in this world. Last year, she married Alex Mackennan, the owner of the “Pig Farm,” a store that deals strictly in pig-themed merchandise.
…That doesn’t seem like a financially viable niche. But…
I went there once to see her. From the street, I saw how happy she was and I just continued on my way without going inside. I could talk to her all I wanted, but this Gabrielle never knew me.
Well she knew Aya before all this… The real Aya. But everyone’s memories of that Aya and the old me are gone… for some reason. I’m not asking too many questions, as long as I don’t have to fight any more of The Twisted. It’s fine. This is fine.

The year after Owen became deputy director of the FBI, he was arrested on suspicion of leaking classified information in exchange for massive amounts of cash. His payoff was diverted to fund an international terrorist organization.
I knew the guy was a huge asshat but SHEESH!
The world may have changed, but Owen was unable to escape the shadowy world of bloodshed and revenge.
And crippling, near cartoonish incompetence. Oh and his prized lures were seized by the FBI. I heard he was very upset.

I believe Blank is currently working at an agency somewhere, but I can't get a grip on which one, exactly. He must still be living under his new “legend,” the fake personal history he'd created for himself. I pray that a brilliant beam of light will one day shine into the darkness of his solitude. That's my most heartfelt prayer.
He was literally the only one that didn’t turn out to be a huge creep or try to kill me at any point. That makes him alright in my book.

Cray and his family are making a home for themselves and living happily together on Long Island.
I mean, as happy as you can get on Long Island… Oh yes, his wife and daughter are alive now. They didn’t die in that crash… in 2006 some... four years prior to any of this happening. Yeah… I don’t know either. Isabella Cray just turned four years old and is still attending preschool. So… I guess they just got warped to the present alive when the world reset…? I… It’s a happy ending. I’m happy for them. It’s all fine.
After leaving the military, he established a company dealing in agricultural tools and fertilizers, then started his own landscaping business. He's been pretty successful, too - apparently his skill in designing rose gardens has been recognized at the national level.

So Cray had a soft spot for flowers and greenery... It's kind of creepy, but funny, too, when you think about it.
The whole dead family being back four years later is still way creepier.

After studying in Gehrmann's lab at Bonn University in Germany, Maeda received high praise for his work on ribosomal structure. It went on to earn him the prestigious Wolf Prize, said to be a precursor to the Nobel Prize.
I have followed Aya’s advice and kept my distance. I thought he was just a weird, quirky nerd… *stares into distance*

At my sister's and Kyle's wedding, Hyde absorbed the scattered fragments of my body and transformed into a High One. Unlike the original Twisted my sister had produced, the High Ones I brought forth possessed intelligence. The trade-off was a lack of reproductive capability, a crucial flaw dooming the survival of the species.
Which, upon discovering, makes all of that *way* more disturbing. Though, I’m still not sure *how* I realized that fact. It’s fine. I won’t worry about it.
The original Twisted had been created in the far distant future, emerging from a wormhole known as Babel and instinctively moving across time. The “thing” that merged with Hyde was an entity capable of taking a metamorphosing world and fixing it into a single memory. Driven out, even wiped out by the original Twisted, it wanted only to change its own destiny.
Even if they could somehow replicate, it still didn’t seem like numbers would ever be in the High Ones’ favor. But that’s maybe beside the point…
Thus they had no choice but to destroy my sister in Time Zero, nipping the Twisted's gestation process in the bud. Every scenario was a conspiracy designed to open the Doors of Zero and allow Hyde Bohr to return to Time Zero. Like my sister, though, Hyde saw it as a battle to protect his precious family: the High Ones.
Though he ended up killing, or having me kill, most of them to accomplish this goal. So… Well, the point is…
Hyde no longer... exists in this world. It's not a matter of him being dead or alive - I haven't been able to figure out if he even is.
My sister owned a guy so hard he was wiped out of the history books.
*frowns* She was so cool…

Me? I'm a member of the FBI's secret operative team.
It’s hard winging it at being Aya at this new job. Everyone is going easy on me after Kyle left me at the altar. So that’s given me some breathing room. But these Neo-Mitochondria Creatures are WAY freakier than any of the twisted ever were…
I'm living in a world where there are no Twisted. But I can still feel them, sometimes. One day, the world I believed to be true suddenly came crashing down all around me. Pounding waves swept everything away, as though it were little more than a sandcastle built at the water's edge. The only thing left in its wake was a boundless realm of cruelty. Screams, cries, the howls of the raging wind - all were silenced, swallowed by the darkness.

In that moment, I knew. Everything I'd believed in was a dream. This... this was the true reality. Those wretched times will revisit us one day. I just have a feeling.

Until then, I’ve booked sessions with a therapist. It turns out all of these sort of thoughts like this I was having while working at CTI are INCREDIBLY unhealthy and it was real lousy everyone just let me live with it.
*sigh* My life is a freakin’ mess…

Finally, upon completing the game a cutscene viewer unlocks. With it there are four unlockable extra videos. Aya’s Time we’ll be skipping. It’s just softcore porn shower video. Oh… to unlock it in the cutscene viewer? You’ve got to complete the game FIFTY TIMES!

I’m not including actual video for any of these, because YouTube bots immediately take it down and they’re not worth the effort to circumvent.

The first video is unlocked by default. It’s called Chelsea National Guard – File 000 (Investigation)

Remember that brief cellphone video of a black guy getting wrecked by a Twisted way at the very, very beginning of the game?

As it turns out, Aya had Overdived there before the tutorial had begun and was standing behind the guy taking that video.

You’re not the only one who’s scared.

And the video ends there with a Slacker’s claw arm looming over Aya. Presumably the Overdive ends and the person Aya was possessing gets their shit pushed in because that kind of incompetence and collateral damage was Aya’s thing early in the game.

The second extra video, also unlocked with completion of the game is called “Time Zero / Hyde”. This one feels like they went to the effort of animating this scene, but couldn't think of a good place to stick it in as a flashback. So whatever. It's a post-game extra now!

It’s just the start of a new time loop where Aya loses her memory and Hyde finds her then has to waste the next several years going through American bureaucracy to establish a government funded unit and secure resources to construct the Overdive device and all go through hundreds of job interviews. No wonder the guy was desperate to break the cycle. That sounds nightmarish!

The final video is unlocked by completing the game a second time and it is actually a new post-credits sequence. This is the last bit of The 3rd Birthday. Let’s take a look…

New Music: Come Again to Christmas

We find Aya Brea just walking down the middle of the same street she began the game’s tutorial. Aya, the city is no longer a monster filled hellscape. Get the fuck out of the road! I’m going to be really pissed if you pull a Shadows of Destiny here…

A gift from the two of them…
Tch. No. Kyle is alive. He just left… I have to get that straight in my head…


Aww. Thanks, Ay—WAIT! What?!

And there’s nobody there… Was it Eve just hallucinating? A ghost? Aya not actually dead and some Time Lord now? Some other half-assed sequel hook option?

I do not know and I do not think the writers did either. But fuck you, anyway!

And on that note The 3rd Birthday… The 4th Birthday… What did that even MEAN?! What did any of these mean? I dunno. I think this game’s plot has just made me inch closer to nihilism and a wish for the ultimate entropy of the universe. But until then, I hope you all enjoyed your time with The 3rd Birthday! Personally, I kinda felt good just ripping into that stupid, stupid fucking game I hated. Metroid: Other M and its crummy portrayal of Samus Aran has shit on The Assassination of Aya Brea by the Coward Square-Enix.

But now that I’ve gotten it out of my system and shared the depths of rot from the nadir of Square-Enix’s half-assed nature from a half decade ago with everyone… I think I have a bottle of bourbon and a Steam sale with some good games I ought to capitalize on playing for a change…

Rest in Peace, Aya Brea and the Parasite Eve series.