Parasite Eve II is set several years after the events in the original game. The protagonist from the first game, Aya Brea, also features in this game as the playable character. She becomes involved with another outbreak of Neo-Mitochondrial creatures. Gameplay diverges from the previous game: battles take place in real time and the area of action is less restrictive. The approach is more typical of traditional survival horror games, although some role-playing elements are retained.
The game was well received by critics, although it was criticized for using a control system that was seen as being outdated.
Parasite Eve II is an action role-playing survival horror video game. Character control is accomplished in a traditional survival horror manner: Aya is able to move forwards, backwards, and pivot left and right. Camera movement is limited, generally being confined to a single view of a room or area, and cannot be altered by the player.
Unlike Parasite Eve, there is no Active Time Bar that governs the order of actions during a battle. Battles take place in real time, so the player is free to act as they see fit. Another contrast is the absence of the 'range dome' seen in the first game, allowing the player to shoot at off-screen targets and engage targets from a safe distance. There are also no random battles; enemies will be found wandering in plain view, hence allowing the player to avoid confrontations and plan strategies. Aiming, as with most other games of this genre, is accomplished by cycling through the various 'lockable' targets within Aya's range.
Equipment can be obtained through various methods, including finding, purchasing and 'creating' items such as body armor, weapons, ammunition and tools. Unlike most other survival horror games, ammunition is almost never in short supply. While Aya can only carry limited amounts of equipment with her, inexhaustible ammunition boxes exist in most areas and can be revisited as often as required for a top-up. This encourages the player to fight rather than run, which is essential to the gameplay as it is the only way to gain experience and thus for Aya to become powerful enough to succeed. While equipment follows the original game's concept of being customizable, in general the weapons and armor are quite limited in the alterations available. Armor, which not only reduces damage but also affects the amount Aya can carry, has the option of adding extra item slots up to a limit of ten. The Parasite Energies are divided into four areas: the offensive Fire and Wind elements and the defensive Water and Earth elements.