Review: Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy

Release Date
June 9th 2015 (US), June 5th 2015 (EU)
PlayStation Vita
Publisher / Developer
NIS America, Inc. / Experience Inc.
Dungeon RPG

Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy is a new Dungeon RPG from developer Experience, Inc. Who previously had success with a similar PlayStation Vita title – Demon Gaze. Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy is a remake of the company’s first two games, titled Generation Xth: Code Hazard and Generation Xth: Code Breaker, which was released on PC in 2008, now with updated gameplay and new artwork. This release marks a first of this story being available in the English language, as the original games were never released outside of Japan.

Set in a near-future of Tokyo – the city is under threat from genetically engineered monsters known as Variants; to make matters worse portals that connect to a mysterious dimension called the Abyss have been opening around the city. Tasked by the government the CPA, Code Physics Agency, investigate these mysterious phenomena and with the Xth Squad, a group of students modified by the CPA’s Code technology, they have the ability to fight the Variants and discover the mystery behind the Abyss.

Feeling like a cross between Shin Megami Tensei and Psycho-Pass, you control the Xth Squad in the exploration of various dungeons, fighting Variants and ultimately uncovering the mystery behind the Abyss. When beginning the game you are given a choice of Classic Mode and Basic Mode, the latter gives you a squad of pre-made characters and the ability to recruit more and choose their appearance. Classic mode, however, gives you complete control over how your characters look, with 14 different pieces available to customise. Once you have made your decision however this cannot be changed at any point during the game.

The story is mission-based so this can make plot progression feel quite stop-start, there’s even a level cap placed upon you, with the only way to remove it being plot progression, not a hard feat though. With only a handful of side missions and areas available to you in the early stages of the game, advancing the story is about the only thing to do. Missions take on a whole other level when you become stuck; exploring the same area over and over because you may have missed a hidden door or you haven’t spoken to a certain person can become quite tiresome.

Upon starting the game new players are subject to a series of text dumps that often employ unfamiliar terminology serving only to confuse. In time you may come to actually figure out what some of this means, but then again maybe not. The early game can be somewhat slow, especially in battles where back row characters are pretty useless, unable to use physical attacks until you happen upon a weapon they can equip, you’re stuck with their very limited and basic magic spells.

Dungeon exploration is fairly standard and thankfully has an auto-walk feature, which just makes life so much easier. Dungeons are simple at first, but the more you explore the more interesting they become; hidden doors, spatial rifts, dispel areas and plenty more are awaiting any would-be explorer. Dungeons also make use of a feature that fans of Demon Gaze will remember, the memo system, it’s an interesting concept but one that I never found useful the first time around.

Levelling up works the same as any RPG, except when you have enough EXP (experience) you need to head back to the medical lab and rest before you actually gain a level. A weird concept, meaning you have to stop exploration and return to HQ just to level up, doing otherwise would only waste any exp earned afterwards as it will not be counted.

Customisation is a huge part of this game and levelling up allows you to choose which attributes to improve. Further customisation can be made via equipment, allowing you to boost and affix various weapons and armour however you see fit. The menus that allow you to achieve this, however, are very confusing and with only basic explanation, you are left to run a series of trial and error to find out what each of these options actually does. Another little annoyance of mine is when games haven’t implemented a system of comparison between equipment, creating extra work for the player trying to figure out which is better. In a game where customisation is a big focus, I can kind of forgive this to an extent but it would make the system more efficient.

Visually the game is very attractive; dialogue scenes play out in visual novel style with gorgeous character portraits. Enemies are refreshing although a little repetitive much like those in Demon Gaze, bosses though look amazing and are a joy to battle. Dungeons come in all styles from dark and apocalyptic to mysterious sci-fi, it’s always an exciting prospect when unlocking a new dungeon. The game only includes an English voice-over which is a shame, one that will put many people off, but thankfully the English voice cast does a pretty good job.

The confusing inventory menu system and unexplained features really don’t help in the beginning stages of the game and may even serve to put players off from the outset. The lack of a Japanese language option will also turn many off but luckily a good effort shines through in the English track. Given the game's faults, which clearly seem a side-effect of trying something new, it’s an enjoyable game for those that like Dungeon RPGs and the story piques enough interest to make you want to see it through.