Dungeon crawlers have come quite a long trip from their inception till now. There has been a huge variety regarding setting, mechanics, combat, graphic and even camera, but mostly follow the same script; that of controlling a character into a dungeon, levelling up abilities and improving your combat skills. Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy, while not reinventing the formula, changes quite a lot of the typical features of a normal dungeon crawling RPG, making it quite different from normal games of this type.
Operation Abyss opens with the main character, or player at least since there is an absence of a lead, who has fainted in what appears to be an underground dungeon. Upon waking up you discover dead bodies around you and your character is then approached by a man who tells you that you’ve been captured. A girl then appears and saves you, and then proceeds to take you to their base for briefing. This base turns out to be an extremely technological building, armed with all sorts of equipment and tools. You are then informed of what is happening around you, and you learn that the enemies who kidnapped you and probably would have killed you, are called mutants called Variants, and it is up to this group, called the Xth. The Xth also consists of a combat unit called the XPD, which is made up of the most suitable recruits the squad can get. This is because the members of the XPD are recruited after students undergo a physical examination during their entrance to Hinowa Academy, to make sure that the subjects are physically able to be part of the combat unit. In the game you are not given a single character but rather a randomly generated party of students, which you can edit. You can also, like me, create your own character resembling pretty much you in real life. Customization in the game is quite rich, and although my character ended up with blue hair, you can really tinker about to generate your virtual personality right there. One also puts in personality traits in the character creation screen, mainly to determine which blood codes your virtual character will be able to use.
As opposed to typical skill trees and abilities, Operation Abyss features an intelligent mechanic where the members of the XPD use Blood Codes to gain impressive fighting ability. The usage of these Blood Codes is called Code-Rise, which is a superhuman ability to obtain much greater power, and is based on random heroes, mainly from history, for example Leonardo da Vinci or Florence Nightingale. What is interesting about this mechanic is that the member’s attitude and personality directly affects the codes he or she is eligible to use. The limitation is not severe, so only a couple of heroes will be unavailable, but again one can change the traits of the character if not pleased.
In terms of gameplay, it is simple and complicated at the same time. There are dungeon crawling elements where you go around different locations in first person mode, looking mostly like the Windows 98 screensaver, and crashing into walls until you find clues or enemies which you have to then defeat. So far so good. The more complicated parts stand at base, where there is a plethora of things to do. Taking it all in at once can be quite something, but getting a hang of things will not take very long. You can rest your party members after exploring dungeons to get them back at full HP, you can spend your Growth Points on, well, growing the party members to make them stronger. You can also create new recruits and put them in the formation, or substitute existing members for others in the party, among other things.
Combat in Operation Abyss is quite straightforward, and easy to learn. You select actions for all the party or a single combined attack, and then confirm or change your actions. All the moves are then carried out at the end of the turn, even enemy attacks. Moves can range from normal attacks to spells to guarding or using items, so selection is just enough to be deep but not confusing. There is no targeting for melee attacks, while some spells can have a target selected to them.
As for graphics, the game features plenty of colours which despite the dark tones of the story, still keeps the characters and the feel of the game quite vivid. Characters are very well detailed, and the story absorbs you in ways other games definitely do not.
Operation Abyss New Tokyo Legacy is a game which will please a limited set of gamers, because it surely is not for everyone. The ones it is for, though, will have a very good time in the hands of the Xth squad. A compelling story, randomly generated but always pleasing characters and a good combat system combine to create a solid game, one which satisfies that dungeon crawling itch perfectly.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.