Do you have a problem with winning at games too often? Are you through with success? If failure’s what you’re after, maybe you want an old-school dungeon crawler! Games like Etrian Odyssey and Elminage Gothic are all about punishment and the thrill of victory over unfair odds, after all. If you’re interested in trying some fresh meat from such a beloved genre, but not so new that you’ll be hopelessly lost in the shuffle, you might want to try Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Revolution.
Operation Abyss has you controlling a group of students/secret agents known as the Xth Squad, a division of the clandestine Code Physics Agency. Through the power of Blood Codes, basically distilled essence of badass created through the genetic information of history’s greatesat heroes, the Xth Squad sets out to battle the monstrous Variants. You’ve got six party members, each of whom take on the power of a particular Blood Code which serves as their class. It’s all very, uh, anime, for lack of a better term, but there’s something about imbuing a character with the Renaissance might of Leonardo da Vinci that’s quirky but appealing.
If that sounds familiar, it might be because Japan absolutely loves this style of game. Wizardry was a big here in the West in the early days of gaming, but it took off in an unprecedented way in Japan. Titles like Etrian Odyssey and Class of Heroes continued that legacy, and Operation Abyss feels very much like the latter; if you’re a fan of the hardcore, unforgiving dungeon-crawling from the Class of Heroes games, you’re bound to like what’s here. Nods to the classics abound, including “chests” with “traps” that “thieves” will have to unlock. Sure, there’s different setting-appropriate names for all of those concepts as well as many others, but it’s Wizardry through and through.
By the way, pay special attention to my mention that the game is unforgiving – this game will gladly kick your butt, so you’ll want to save often and proceed carefully. Later enemies can wreck your party without breaking a sweat, especially if you aren’t taking advantage of the various item and character customization systems in place. Unlike some similar games, though, I never felt like I was defeated unfairly. In a sense, that actually means Operation Abyss is easier than your standard old-school dungeon crawler!
The look and feel of Operation Abyss should come as no surprise to Vita players – it’s your usual anime-styled game that flourishes on this platform. The modern day concept is appreciated given how your average dungeon crawler follows an identikit fantasy setting, though. One interesting touch is the ability to select between classic character models, which are highly customizable and display gear as you equip it, and new models, which are specific to each “class” much like Etrian Odyssey. I was a fan of the former, since I liked being able to see what my dudes were using at a glance. Sound and voicework is passable as well. One annoyance that bothered me a bit is that the text probably could have used another pass by a proofreader; there’s the odd typo here and there and it feels a bit unpolished at times.
Aside from that, though, Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Revolution is a solid anime dungeon crawler that’s worth a look for fans of the genre. It’s easy enough to look past the rough edges when you’re romping through a mission hunting Variants and accumulating treasure. Newcomers might be better served with the slightly more polished Etrian Odyssey series, but experienced delvers are bound to enjoy the fresh aesthetics on display here.