On Day 3 of Parasite Eve’s six day journey, during a sequence of events that are peaceful as they are chilling, our blonde, blue-eyed hero Detective Aya Brea is joined by her hot-blooded partner Detective Daniel Dollis on a stroll through an evacuated Manhattan seeking to liberate resources from abandoned businesses to use in their battle against the mysterious being known as Eve and the mutated creatures at her disposal.
They are followed by a civilian biophysicist named Kunihiko Maeda, whom they’ve allowed to travel with them, since his research on a being similar to Eve from his native Japan may prove useful. And he’s also some skinny, unarmed nerd, so what harm could it do?
When the player takes control, the trio will eventually end up standing in front of Sams [sic] Gun Shop. When approached, Maeda rubs the crown of his head and says, “They weren’t kidding when they said they sell guns here in America, were they…”and then reverts to a looped animation of furtive glances to the left and right.
When the door to the shop is examined, Aya will notice that it’s locked. Her partner Daniel tells her to step to one side.
“Daniel, no…” says Aya. “Sorry, but it’s the only way,” Daniel responds.
With a flourish, Daniel pulls out his concealed firearm and shoots at the glass of the door surrounding its handle. Aya knows to cover her ears and turn away from the breaking glass. Maeda doesn’t have time to react, and so makes no move until after Daniel already holsters his gun.
“Are… are you really a cop?” he asks.
“We think so,” Aya says. “But we don’t have scientific proof, if that’s what you’re asking.”
As the player peruses the the shop for ammunition, Aya can find Daniel casually glancing between two products, and waves his arm out generously when approached. “Go ahead and pick your favorite accessories, ladies!”
Maeda, hunched over, peers through the protective glass at the bounty of weaponry, small and large: “This is just too much.”
There are are two NYPD officers who manage the weapons dispensary at Aya’s Precinct 17 offices. The first the player meets, Wayne, coolly and possessively spreads his arms along the width of the front desk. “So what’ll it be… Shotgun? Rocket Launcher?”
Wayne stands at attention when his supervisor, Torres, walks in to reprimand him. “Idiots like you are the reason why guns won’t disappear from this country!” Torres tells Wayne to get his ass back to the storage room, and let a responsible adult handle the registration process.
That’s right: the officer in charge of registering and dispensing new firearms to other cops HATES guns. He’s not too obstinate though, and recognizes that gun violence is systemic, referring to it as a “vicious cycle” of law enforcement relying on guns because criminals do, and vice versa. Moreover, he recognizes that it’s fair to bring heavy weaponry to a battle against an unstoppable, mutated terror.
Once Aya leaves, she’s met by Wayne gain. Although Torres will only modify Aya’s firearm with a permit, Wayne bypasses Torres’ authority by letting her know that she can tune weapons on her own through the game’s Tool system, the mechanic the player will use most to overcome mitochondrial monstrosities. “Trust me,” Wayne says, “you can never have too much firepower”.
During the events of Day 3, Precinct 17 comes under attack by Eve’s mutated creatures. As the player makes through way through the hostile territories, they reach the weapons dispensary and find Wayne over a fatally wounded Torres. “Why didn’t ya shoot, man?!” Wayne asks him. Torres reveals that he hasn’t even fired a gun since his daughter died. “Torres, you can’t blame guns for that!”
“I suppose… you’re right…” Torres concedes. He encourages Wayne to take good care of the place, and then dies.
Afterward, Wayne hands Torres’ gun over to Aya, a decent weapon that he always kept in top working condition, although he never used it. Wayne reveals that, although Torres was an excellent shot, after his daughter’s accidental death he stopped using guns – and, in fact, he relocated to Precinct 17 for the express purpose of filling the dispensary position and keeping all the guns in check out of a sense of duty.
And so the gun safety expert, constantly surrounded by weapons that could be used for self-defense, dies because he is unwilling to use one. Meanwhile, the brash gun enthusiast lives on because of his love for weaponry.
Parasite Eve is one of the few games by Square to take place in a world not framed by fantasty or cyberpunk aesthetics, and the very first to take place in a representation an actual real world, current time location. In a Square game, a player often makes use of magical items and equipment to surmount obstacles. Of course, magic doesn’t exist in 1997 New York City – aside from the magic of Rockefeller Center at Christmastime. In lieu of giant swords or glowing crystals, the player uses something much more down-to-earth: guns.
Even then, firearms in Parasite Eve are treated with the same pomp and reverence as any mystical weaponry. Some of them even have fantastical qualities that sound feasible with the right wording – some ammunition is corrosive and deals acid damage, some grenades explode into… ice, and deal cold damage.
Consider that, to the average player within the originally intended Japanese audience, an actual gun might as while be a magic sword, and that playing Parasite Eve might be as close they will get to gun ownership.
Parasite Eve only briefly meditates on gun ownership and the use of firearms, but the choices made clearly indicate the game’s origins. Maeda, the only Japanese character in the game, can rather easily explain concepts related to genetics and biochemistry, but can’t quite wrap his head around the nature of American gun culture or the behavior of a New York City police officer.
This same outside perspective, though, offers a measure of moderation that isn’t often seen in the national conversation regarding gun violence – a willingness to admit that the right answer isn’t always obvious.
Wayne and Torres clearly both represent the opposite perspectives on guns in the country, with Wayne seeing no problem with putting limitless firepower in the hands of a citizen who wants it, and Torres not even believing that law enforcement should be using such weapons. It could be said that Torres, who dies, is the loser this debate. His ideas, though, live on in other officers at Precinct 17, who clearly had great respect for him, and in Wayne, who must take on his responsibilities. Although he did die during this one unbelievable situation, for the most part, aside from battles against monsters, his mediation on the vicious cycle of gun violence rings true.
That said… Wayne is much more cavalier about dispensing firearm modifications to Aya than Wayne was, going so far as to give them out in return for trading cards. What kind of trading cards? Trading cards with pictures of guns on them.
You can train someone to be responsible, and you can put obstacles in the way of someone who wants a firearm, but in the end, gun culture is bigger than any law or any one person.