Graphics:
6.3
Gameplay:
6.9
Sound:
6.5
Control:
7.2
Replay Value:
7.0
Overall Rating:
6.8
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
NIS America
Developer:
Experience, Inc.
Number Of Players:
1
Genre:
RPG
Release Date:
June 9, 2015


If you're old enough, you remember some of the earliest role-playing games, where you faced your enemies in turn-based, first-person encounters. Dragon Warrior and Phantasy Star were like that and developer Experience, Inc. ( Demon Gaze ) has resurrected the old tradition with Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy and tossed in some seriously dark anime imagery. The result is an intriguing, challenging old-school adventure that is just a bit too trying and frustrating. It doesn’t help that it takes more than a few hours to feel immersed and involved, which these days goes over like a lead balloon, anyway.

The game really is surprisingly dark. The developers attempt to lighten the tone every now and then with playful character banter but for the most part, there’s a sinister vibe at the core of Operation Abyss . I don’t mind that at all, provided it’s consistent (and it is), and I’m betting anime lovers will appreciate this unique presentation. On the other hand, too much of the game is very bland. If we’re exploring in a first-person perspective, the creators really need to place more emphasis on our surroundings. Unfortunately, there are a lot of drab, gray backdrops, and the enemy designs aren’t especially impressive, either. Still, one has to applaud the atmospheric tension.

If you’re familiar with such games, you know what to expect from a sound standpoint. The soundtrack is sadly a little too generic and the voice acting ranges from average to good (and a bit of mediocre tossed in), while the effects can take center-stage during battle. Again, you have to adapt to a different style and culture; these voice performances, for example, probably wouldn’t fly in big-budget Western productions. But the voices have a more dramatic, cheesy tinge to them, as they so often do in Japanese games. Fans of the JRPG genre have come to accept the various idiosyncrasies associated with such games. Some may call them flaws or drawbacks; others argue that such traits are charming.

This is a long, in-depth dungeon crawler with a ridiculous amount of customization involved. I’ll get to that in a minute but first, the starting point: As I said above, the game just takes way too long to get going. The pacing is erratic and unappealing in the first four or five hours, which makes you disinclined to continue the adventure. If you can get past this initial tedium, that pacing levels out a little and you can focus on exploration and powering up. The problem is that given those bland environments and steep learning curve, only the die-hard JRPG fanatics will make it past the lengthy introductory phase. Maybe that’s okay, though, as only JRPG fanatics are gonna buy this in the first place.

You have your standard ability and equipment options, but you can also go nuts with character customization. At the start, you can select Basic Mode (which automatically generates a balanced party), or Classic Mode, which gives you the most control over your party members. Both modes offer complete customization of any character’s stats, which I found both unnecessary and extremely tedious. You have to spend so much time examining and considering and tweaking that eventually, you just want to throw up your hands and go, “enough!” Remember, you can have six characters in your party and to be so meticulous about each is just plain annoying. I love depth in my RPGs but this feels more like number-crunching to me.