By Ashley Ring / August 10th, 2017
|Title||Damascus Gear: Operation Tokyo|
|Developer||Arc System Works|
|Release Date||May 31 2017|
When I first laid eyes on Damascus Gear: Operation Tokyo I was really excited to jump in and play it. After watching some trailers, it looked like a solid isometric action RPG that also features giant robots, which is always a plus in my book. Now after playing through it, how did Damascus Gear: Operation Toyko hold up?
The story in Damascus Gear is that giant robots called Rage are wiping out humanity. With no end in sight, humans must fight back against the Rage by piloting their own giant robots called Gears. Upon booting up the game for the first time, you can input a name for the silent protagonist pilot you’ll be playing as. The story itself is very shallow and bare bones to the point where the entire thing just feels unnecessary.
At the beginning of every mission you’ll have a very brief cutscene explaining what your mission objective is. Sometimes there will also be very brief character banter thrown in during the briefing, but it really doesn’t do much to help flesh out the characters or even give them any kind of personality. Most of the game will be spent listening to your operator Mirai, who is probably the most developed character in the game but still isn’t developed much at all.
The main issue with the story here is that the only cutscenes you’ll ever see are the mission briefings, and a quick cutscene at the end of the mission congratulating you. There is unfortunately not much in between missions, it’s just straight to the point and never anything else. During my playthrough of the story, I never really felt any sense of urgency or just how dire the situation was for humanity. There are also a lot of pauses during gameplay to give you one line of dialogue to tell your mission progress. Personally, I found this annoying and felt it broke the flow of the game, since Mirai would call several times per mission to just repeat to me what I just did.
While the story may be the weakest aspect of the game, thankfully Damascus Gear offers decent customization options for your Gear. Aspects of your Gear such as its head, torso, legs, arms and weapons are all parts that you can customize and equip with newer and better pieces. Changing these around is what will determine your attack, defense, movement speed and just about everything else as there is no level up system, just better equipment. Whatever weapons you equip to your left and right hands will be what determines what kind of attacks you will do with the Square and Triangle buttons on the controller, while whatever you equip to your back will use the Circle button.
Combat is probably the most solid aspect of Damascus Gear. It feels good to slash and shoot enemy Rage down, especially with all the different weapon types there are. My favorite combinations to use were using Square for whatever type of melee weapon I had equipped, Triangle for a spread gun type weapon that, if fired at close range, would deal massive damage, and a flamethrower on my back, which would tear through just about anything in seconds. Each attack option you have equipped has an energy meter, so the more you use them, the more it will deplete. Once its fully depleted, you’ll have to wait for it to recharge before you can use that attack again. Most weapons don’t take long at all to recharge, and many of them even use so little energy that you probably won’t ever see it depleted.
While the combat may be solid, it suffers from really poor and uninteresting mission design. Most missions will either tell you to kill x number of enemies, collect x amount of this item, protect this person, or survive for this long until the mission ends. These aren’t bad, but when the mission objectives start combining these things it gets frustrating. There is one mission in particular towards the end of the story mode that requires you to survive for 5 minutes while also escorting and protecting 3 Gears. If one Gear dies, it’s game over. Unfortunately, the AI for the ones you must protect is so poor that they literally would just move on their own, splitting off in different directions and constantly run past me while I’m trying to take out enemies in front of us. This would constantly cause more enemies to trigger, and wipe out who I’m supposed to protect before I could even do anything. This mission was so infuriating to a point where I was losing motivation to even keep playing anymore.
The visuals themselves are decent, and I liked running around the streets of ruined areas of Tokyo. Unfortunately, there are very few areas and most of them look the same as the rest. The framerate is a huge issue as well. Most of the time, enemy Rage will explode when defeated in battle. Every single time this happens the framerate starts to drop massively, and when you just killed 5 or more enemies at the same time, the game starts to feel like it’s running in slow motion. It’s really unfortunate that the framerate is such an issue, considering this is a port of a not very graphically intensive Vita game.
When it comes to music and sound, Damscus Gear does alright. The music is pretty good and there are definitely a few tracks that will stick with me. The Gear customization menu theme is a very relaxing ambient piece, while the normal mission theme is fast and fun. The sound effects, however, can get really grating. Every time I hit an enemy with a melee attack, it would make this horribly loud metal noise, so loud in fact that I had to turn the sound effects volume down to 20 just to get it to sound somewhat quiet.
To me, Damascus Gear: Operation Tokyo felt really half baked. While the combat may be solid, it’s weighed down by so many other aspects. Even for the low price of $19.99, it feels hard to recommend due to its frustrating mission design, technical issues and lack of areas to explore. The game is at least a short experience. I clocked in at just under 11 hours for the main story. Perhaps a sequel in the future can work out the issues I had, but as is, Damascus Gear: Operation Tokyo is very rough around the edges.
Review copy provided by publisher
A+ GamesAction RPGArc System WorksDamascus GearDamascus Gear: Operation Tokyo