Aya can also sway the course of a battle in her favor by using one of her parasite energy powers, which are the game's equivalent of magic spells. These are divided between three abilities in each of the four classical elements, and they let Aya scorch her enemies with flame, heal her wounds, increase her defenses, and more. Preparing to use parasite energies conveniently pauses the action as you decide which of your powers you want to unleash. However, the ability to willingly halt the combat and use an appropriate special ability lends the game a more deliberate tactical element that actually weakens the pacing of its action sequences. Frantically having to reload your gun as some mutant stumbles toward you helps make the game more exciting, but pausing the action as you decide whether you want to use pyrokinesis or energy shot almost seems like cheating.
Aya doesn't level up by defeating her foes as she did in the first game, although she still gets experience points. The experience points are instead used for unlocking Aya's parasite energy powers and for increasing their effectiveness - up to three times their original proficiency. Most of the powers are useful, and because eight of the 12 are accessible right away, you actually have the option to choose whether to have a variety of powers or a few especially powerful ones.
Aya also has to acquire the bulk of her weapons, armor, and ammunition by purchasing them using the game's "bounty points," which she earns by killing enemies. You're usually limited by your bounty points to buying a small selection of whatever's available; you'll get to buy the good gun or the good armor, but not both. While the ability to purchase whichever weapon you like seems helpful, the RPG-style item shop system should've been replaced just like most of the other RPG elements in the game. The necessity of having to buy new weapons and restock ammunition puts a lot of what should be the game designers' responsibility of creating a tightly paced, suspenseful action-adventure squarely in your hands. If you're low on ammo in Parasite Eve II, it's merely because you didn't buy enough. In addition, a lot of the puzzles in the game are insipid key hunts and brainteasers that just aren't as interesting as the combat and exploration. At least Parasite Eve II features a helpful mapping system that keeps you from getting lost as you run back and forth to unlock new doors.
The original Parasite Eve tried to unite the Final Fantasy-style RPG with the Resident Evil-style action-adventure. Unfortunately, the two genres didn't mix very well, which helps explain both why Parasite Eve II can't be called an RPG, and also why it's a better game than the first. However, the game still has the occasional residual role-playing convention that bogs down the gameplay. Using a healing spell whenever you're hurt and stocking up on ammunition from a shop, just in case you might need it, serve only to diminish whatever tension and suspense that the game might have otherwise evoked. Parasite Eve II does feature multiple endings and additional gameplay modes that become available once you play through it, and it is a great-looking, great-sounding game that's a marked improvement over the original. As such, it's a close contender with all the latest horror-themed action-adventure games for the PlayStation, even though it isn't as engaging or intense as it might have been.