A remake of a lesser known dungeon crawler series.
When I tried out Demon Gaze back in April of last year, it was my first exposure to games developed by “Experience Inc.”
It was just around the time I was warming up to dungeon crawlers like the Etrian Odyssey series and I was quite impressed with what I played. The slick character and level designs along with an excellent OST filled with memorable tracks if not for a few notable grievances, it could have easily earned an editor’s choice award.
So, suffice to say, when I heard that they had another dungeon crawler in the works for the Vita, I wanted to check it out.
Unfortunately, while Operation Abyss isn’t a bad game, it fails to capture the essence that made Demon Gaze great.
Platforms: Vita Exclusive
Voice Acting: ENG only
Multiplayer: Online functionality for shared messages found in the dungeons (like the Souls series)
Game Similar to: Demon Gaze, Etrian Odyssey
Played: 18~ hours
Operation Abyss is actually not a brand new IP but rather a remake of the first two games of the “Generation XTH” series that was released on PC many years ago. They were never released in the States so it’s quite understandable if you’ve never heard of them.
In that regard, the game offers two modes of play from the get-go: a Classic mode that uses the old-school assets for character creation that offer great customization and a new basic mode that offers a more modern look to the characters.
Even though I ended up settling on the basic mode, it was nice to have the option all the same.
The story of Operation Abyss is an afterthought in the scope of things with created characters who play the role of a silent protagonist as a group.
There’s an evil group bent on using people for experiments and taking over the world or some nonsense but it’s entirely forgettable and I found myself skipping over what little dialogue the game had to offer out of sheer boredom.
Those who have tried their hands on titles like the Etrian Odyssey, Demon Gaze, Classes of Heroes and more should have a good idea of what to expect.
There are dungeons to explore while filling out a map(although you don’t draw them like in Etrian Odyssey), monsters to slay, and characters to customize/level up.
It’s all been there and done that but as is the case, it’s not in the innovation that matters but rather in the execution of the formula.
In the case of Operation Abyss, it’s not particularly inspired but competent all the same. The dungeons had their share of obstacles like teleportation, poison, directional panels and more but those are all mechanics I’ve seen before and more importantly, seen used in more creative ways.
Simply put, the dungeons are just not that fun to explore and it grew all the more tiresome when I found myself lost trying to figure out where to go next. Constantly backtracking, searching wall to wall for hidden doors for hours at a time, all the while being pestered by random encounters isn’t exactly my idea of fun.
Having beaten many dungeon crawlers to this date, I feel Operation Abyss had some of the most confusing and uninteresting level designs of the bunch and it’s really a shame considering that the majority of the experience takes place in the dungeons.
Also, the only way to level up was to take a break from the dungeon and make a trip back to HQ which seemed like a curious game play choice given how long it would take to make it back to the place I left off without checkpoints.
Worse yet, the game also capped my level at 15 early on until I made more progress in the story which once again seemed like a curious… well, I’ll be frank, STUPID game play decision given I found myself being capped for more than 5 hours when I became lost, without knowing exactly where I needed to go.
Luckily, it’s not all bad as the battles themselves were designed without too many difficulty spikes which is actually a rarity in the genre and I found the combat progression to be relatively smooth.
Perhaps it’s harsh for me to expect the same kind of quality or improvements over Demon Gaze given that Operation Abyss is a remake of earlier titles but given the simple fact that I’m playing this after thoroughly enjoying DG, I feel that I must.
When it’s all said and done, Operation Abyss isn’t a bad game but it certainly doesn’t live up to the high standards set by Demon Gaze.
Fun Tidbit – There’s a memo system where you can leave messages and read messages left by others (ala Souls series) which helps a bit with finding where to go but given the preview nature of the build, I was unable to fully make use of the system.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.