Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy is a mouthful of a title attached to a game that can seem a bit much to chew on. Though, if you’re willing to put in the time, deal with the frustrations, and have a knack for figuring out some things on your own, Operation Abyss might just be for you.
Operation Abyss is a first-person dungeon crawler where you are in control of all six members of Abyss Company (a name you can change, if you desire). Your company is part of Xth Squad (a name you cannot change, whether you desire it or not) which is a subset of a government organization, called the CPA, tasked with defending Tokyo from outbreaks of monstrous creatures called Variants. Only a select few who can use Code-Rise, an ability which gives superhuman powers, are able to fight Variants. Each Code-Rise is akin to a different class in the game, sporting their own blood-type, skills, spells, and equipment restrictions. If I had to use one word to describe the zeitgeist of this game, not just the character art, it would be “anime.”
Hinowa Academy is Operation Abyss’s central hub and the starting base of operations for Abyss Company. It is where you can accept missions, heal party members, or use its complex crafting system to attain more weapons, armor, items, etc. You may be saying “Oh good, a complex crafting system.” to this I say I would have much preferred a simpler one. Once you acquire the appropriate materials you start by crafting the item, but it does not stop there. After crafting the item it must then be delivered, not to you, to the CPA. Only then can it be issued to you and equipped to one of your characters.
It’s at Hinowa Academy that you’ll also be able to recruit new party members, which you can customize to your liking. If you’d rather not, the game assigns a set of pre-made Abyss Company members that are designed for beginners. At any time you are able to recruit new characters and replace existing ones. You’re never locked into a specific party composition.
These characters and others, shown through mostly still images, are sleek and very aesthetically pleasing. Designs for both for playable and non-playable characters were incredibly well done and kept to a high standard for quality.
The combat and story give immersion to Operation Abyss and is what will keep you trudging through the trenches that are the games missions.
Operation Abyss’s combat hit the spot for me. Members of your company will, along with basic attacks, have a plethora of skills and spells they’ll be able to use as leveling progresses. There’s also a formation aspect to combat. Your party consists of six characters, three in front and three in the back during fights. Some weapons have limited range, so keeping those in front is ideal. Since enemies are able to knock characters around, this can add a dynamic to combat that needs to be taken into account and can change your tactic at a moments notice.
The maps for each mission are segmented into equal size blocks, allowing you to move from space to space while you explore, fight, and discover hidden secrets as you go. Unfortunately, each area’s map is generally bland and unchanging. Most blocks are indistinguishable from others making the mini-map a must use for orientation. This combined with the fact that you will revisit area’s multiple times adds to the monotony that is Operation Abyss’s dungeon crawling.
Similar looking map tiles I can forgive. What I have a hard time forgiving, and was the bane of my existence in Operation Abyss, was the unnecessarily lengthy, obscure, and hidden mission objectives or map paths. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent trying to figure out how to get to certain spot, which generally involves using multiple floors of the dungeon and a fair amount of guesswork to achieve your objective. There is a spell called “Search Floor” which will reveal hidden pathways and the like immediately around you. However, this shows very little and has a limited number of uses before that members mana runs dry, assuming you even have a character that can use that spell. Solving these obscure guesswork puzzles is where you’ll dump the majority of your gameplay hours. If you have an internet connection, I implore you to use the online function which allows you to read and write player made notes left in the game. These were imperative to completing some missions for me.
As missions progress, droplets of story will be given to you. This was by far my favorite aspect of the game. Political concerns, betrayals, spies, secret research facilities, an ethereal plain called “The Abyss”, and intense family drama is just a taste of what to expect from Operation Abyss. Though they are separated from maddening dungeons, dialogue sequences kept me interested and wanting more.
Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy is far from perfect. But this first-person, anime, dungeon crawler isn’t without its charm. If you can find your way through the dungeons, the light at the end of the tunnel will give you engaging combat scenarios and an enthralling narrative.