Young people living in Tokyo are in grave danger. Over the past few months, increasing numbers of high school students have disappeared without a trace and if something isn’t done, these incidents will continue to happen. There have also been reports of strange incidents known as Sprawl Terrors, in which buildings and people suddenly vanish into thin air. Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy, from developer Experience Inc. and published by NIS America, is a sci-fi dungeon crawler RPG set in a near future Tokyo. To save the city, you will need to put together a powerful party, equip them with even more powerful weapons and carry out important missions. The youth of Tokyo are depending on you. Are you up to the challenge?
At the start of the game , you can choose either Basic Mode or Classic Mode. Basic Mode allows you to create the character you will play the game with as well as your team members while Classic Mode throws you into the game with six pre-made, well-balance party members.
Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy puts the player into the shoes of a member of a paranormal investigative unit called the Xth (pronounced “zith”) squad. Bloodthirsty creatures known as Variants have Tokyo under siege and they are on their own mission to spread fear and panic all throughout the city. While the military and the police force have tried to curtail Variant operations, they have been powerless to stop them. In the wake of this fact, young men and women have stepped up to bravely face the Variants where they live — in a seemingly never-ending labyrinth known only as the Abyss. The general populace does not know that the Xth exist but with the increased Variant activity, that may not be the case for much longer.
You start the game with a decent selection of Blood Codes to choose from.
Your main activities will happen in the Abyss where you will carry out your investigations and fight Variants, but before you get to that, you must make sure that your party is equipped with the weapons and tools that you will need to defeat any foe that you may come upon in the labyrinth. Your party can contain members created in the game already or you can create your own members from scratch. To ensure that your party is balanced, the game recommends that you keep one of each type of character in your party. Having a knight, warrior, samurai, physician, academic and wizard will balance out your party and ensure that you can explore the abyss and make it out alive. When creating your own members, you have the option to create them using Blood Codes which are created from the genome of historical heroes, and the abilities they grant reflect the distinct capabilities of these heroic figures.
The Abysses are grid based and movement is one grid at a time. To allow you to move through the Abysses quickly, there is an Auto-Movement feature that will allow you to travel automatically to any place on the map that you have already visited.
Once you have assembled your party, it’s time to begin your investigations and head down into the Abysses. As is the case with typical JRPGs, battles in Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy are turn-based and very fast-paced. You can attack Variants using physical attacks or by using spells and skills provided by the specific Blood Code that each of your characters are imbued with. Every Variant is a certain species and element, and by exploiting these weaknesses you can inflict the exact type of damage necessary for their demise. As you make your way through the Abysses, the difficulty will increase so defeating stronger and stronger enemies will allow your party to get even stronger. The Abysses are loaded with traps, warp gates and various obstacles so preparing your party members before you journey down into an Abyss may be the difference between making it out alive or meeting your end within that Abysses depths.
Character designs are very detailed and colorful.
The visuals in Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy are very well done and give the game a very unique feel especially in the creepy Abysses that you will spend most of your game time in. Interacting with your party members or other characters in the game is usually done against very elaborate static backgrounds. The character models are also static, hand drawn art that are very beautiful to look at but are very flat and lifeless. Colors are bright and fun in the many location around New Tokyo and they are dark and drab when you are conducting investigations down in the Abysses. I think that more actual animation could have been used to help convey the emotions of the characters as well as the severity of the situations that you are confronted with.
Variants will attack in rows that can be five rows deep. You can usually only attack into the front row but certain special abilities will allow you to attack all Variants.
The soundtrack is one of the highlights of this game and helps to set the many different moods that you will encounter during the game. While you are interacting with your party members and other support staff of the Xth, the music is upbeat and light-hearted. However, once you venture down into the Abysses, it becomes dark and ominous. While making your way around an Abyss, the music will change when you encounter random Variants to fast-paced and rhythmic to get you into the mood to kick some Variant a$$. The music mixed with the excellent sound effects such as the whoosh of casting a fire or wind spell or the clang of a sword to the bones of a Variant is satisfying and engrossing.
On the Status Screen, you can level up your party members as well as getting information on Items, Spells and your particular Blood Code.
The dark tone of Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy is what makes this game stand out from other titles published by NIS America but the learning curve in the beginning of the game may turn away casual players while appealing mostly to hardcore JRPG fans. It took me a good while to get a good understanding of the mechanics of this game such as where to go to assemble a team, how to level up my party members and which skills were best to use when in battle. The menu system has too many levels and only after clicking through each item several times was I able to finally figure out where to go to get current information about my parties’ status. However, once I got the hang of how the game is set up, I was equiping weapons and armor, swapping party members and dispatching of Variants like a pro. This game is not for those with little patience, but if you are willing to put in the work, the payoff is a unique experience that will give you hours upon hours of exciting gameplay.
For fans of hardcore dungeon-crawlers.
Challenge - 8.5/10
Gameplay - 7.5/10
Design - 6.5/10
+ Interesting characters and story
+ Turn-based battle is fast and furious
+ Blood Code system is unique way to assign character's base attributes
+ Uniquely Japanese RPG
+ Character development is fluid and versatile
- Abysses are drab and lack imagination
- Steep initial learning curve
- Menu system isn't very intuitive