Variants are attacking the Hinowa region and only a select few have the power to defeat them. Become a part of the Xth and save the area, and the world, from this threat.
Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy is a first-person dungeon crawler. In a lot of ways, it’s a lot like the old-school dungeon crawlers. And by that I mean that this game is hard. While Operation Abyss is my first time actually playing one, I’ve seen some played before which is around all I have to base my comparisons off. And well, comparing what I’ve seen to what I played in Operation Abyss, this game pulls on a LOT of the difficulties of older games, for better and worse.
The story is a sort of sci-fi mystery in a modern day setting. Various areas called the Abyss are appearing in abandoned places, and if left unchecked could become even more dangerous. You, as a member of the Xth, need to enter these abysses and find out what is going on to cause it. You’ll receive backup from the XPD (police), although you are the only ones who can actually fight the Variants within.
Operation Abyss was originally two games, the Xth generation series. However, they were brought together for one game. As such, you can tell a definite divide between the two “halves” of the games. Originally, you’re limited to a level cap of 15, though once you make it to the second half it’s raised to 40. Once you make it to the second half, you also start to get “reintroduced” to characters. The story also gets a bit crazier in the second half, with you having to deal with cleaning up some pieces from the first part and dealing with another threat that had been introduced late in the first half.
Throughout the game you’ll receive missions that progress the story. Oftentimes, these missions will be sending you back into areas you’ve been to a lot before. This is especially true in the first half. Not only that, but you’ll often have to retrace your steps to find the new pieces of the puzzle that weren’t available before (again, ESPECIALLY true in the first half). You may often find yourself wandering for a VERY long time trying to find what you need, only to find it was something as simple as needing the right item in your inventory to progress (curse you, Hack Key γ). While this might be frustrating for some, it’s a bit refreshing from all the games that are just saying, “Hey, go do this exact thing and you’ll progress”. Sure, I did have to put my Vita down for hours at a time because I was just so stuck, but then I’d often come back and solve it no problem with a refreshed mind.
Another handy feature if you’re stuck is the ability to leave memos for other players. Solve a difficult puzzle or want to mention that there’s a tough battle coming up? You can leave a memo by either using a spell or item. This is very similar to the memo feature seen in games such as Demon’s Souls, and definitely saved me a bit earlier on. Of course, the later I made it, the less notes there were, but such is the life of playing a game early on.
Leveling in Operation Abyss is done in the fashion of you’ll earn all your experience out in the field, however you won’t actually level up until you’re back at HQ and rest up. This can lead to a fair bit of backtracking, though I typically went back to town for reasons beyond just wanting to level up. Later on, if you have an Academic (and you’ll want one), you get access to the Call Portal spell (there is also an item to do so but the spell is much easier). Once you do, life becomes MUCH easier and you’ll feel a LOT less guilt about wanting to go back just to level up.
You’ll want to level up in Operation Abyss as well, especially once you hit the second half and are past the level 15 cap. Thankfully, leveling can be made much simpler by abusing the fact that going through doors seems to make the chance of an encounter a lot higher. Add this onto the spell (and item) that increase the encounter rate and you’ll be a leveling machine. There are definitely some very useful spots to level, and I suggest messing around with what abilities you have – including Unity abilities – to make the process even easier.
Equipment is, unfortunately, a bit convoluted, and I still don’t fully understand it even after finishing the game. The basic gist is that you want to try and maintain a balance of higher level equipment with good defense. Well, you can also massively boost up lower pieces, but you’re still better off trying to progress into higher level pieces. You also have to keep in mind that equipment can only be boosted to a maximum of what their level is, so a level 5 piece can only get +5 whereas a level 25 piece can go up to +25. Note that items found as drops can exceed this.
Where equipment really starts to get confusing is when you try and figure out stats. I still don’t know what stuff like “U-Lock” does. Some stuff is easy, such as M-Def+, whereas some you can figure out as you go. If a part of the item is in red, you’ll want to be careful. If it’s in the third column of stats then it won’t affect your ability to equip it. One such example is Par being red, something you’ll see VERY often – I suggest looking into affixing items that add Paranormal on to let you actually do damage to those types, or to take less. If it’s in the second column, you’ll want to pay attention. If you try and a male-only piece onto a female, the piece will glitch and you’ll have to pay to remove it. The same is true if you try and equip a piece where something like Good is in red onto a Good-natured character.
As far as character creation you have two options. The first is “basic” in which you’ll be given a pre-made team. You can choose to experiment out of these six, though the six you’re given are likely to be in your team the whole game. The only one I replaced was the Warrior for a Monk when I got it. Academics, Priests, and Wizards are all EXTREMELY useful for the passive buffs they can provide. Should you choose classic, you have the ability to customize how your characters look (in basic, they all have a pre-set design and all you can really choose are from a handful of colours). This will also lead to being able to visually see what they look like in their equipment, something you can’t do with basic. Keep in mind however that these two options are purely cosmetic – there are no actual gameplay changes between them. Well, the party layout looks different in classic but that’s about it (it still functions the same).
While Operation Abyss is a difficult game, that doesn’t make it bad. I highly enjoyed my around 55 hours of playing it, though I do need a break to actually play some other things on my Vita for a bit. If you do get it, be prepared to grind and be a bit confused by the equipment setups. Also, if nothing else really do make sure you have an Academic in your team – the ability for it to remove traps off codes, provide useful buffs (including Call Portal eventually), and more easily detect hidden doors is extremely helpful. While not for everyone, it’s definitely a great game for those who are fans of old-school dungeon crawlers as long as you don’t mind the more modern setting. And hey, if you REALLY want to kick it old-school you can even disable the ability to see the minimap in-game (this happens in some areas by default though you can use an item to see it again) and get to mapping.
Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy Review Score
A hard first-person dungeon crawler that may leave you pulling your hair out at times to figure out puzzles. And one that has now made me want to go out and play other dungeon crawlers…
I would like to thank NIS America for providing me with a copy of the game to review.