Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy is a first person dungeon exploring game and a direct sequel to Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy which released in 2015. Despite the names being very similar, Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy is a continuation of the previous game in the series, therefore it takes place after the events of the first game. The game was developed by Experience Inc. which is a company with a lot of experience in developing dungeon crawlers in the past. With a lot of these games gaining a positive reception from critics and consumers alike. However, considering the previous game in the series received mixed reviews, it highlights a concern for this game. Can Experience Inc. take what they learned from the first game to develop a better sequel that matches the quality of their best dungeon crawlers, can it even exceed the qualities of these games before it?
Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy story is an odd one, if you have not played the previous game in the series then expect to be confused when you start it. Additionally, there is hardly any explanations regarding the previous game, giving little to newcomers about the background to the story for this game. This immediately divides the target audience for the game from the start. Experience Inc. expects that you have played through the first game. However, fortunately its story isn’t all that confusing, as long as you have the patience to read through lots of text you’ll gain the fundamentals of the game’s story. The game, as the name suggests, takes place in Tokyo sometime in the unknown future. You are part of a team known as the Xth squad which have superhuman abilities that allow only them to fight against an enemy known as Variants. The story begins however with the infiltration of an Embryo, an object which has appeared in the sky. The characters you play as from the beginning come from the original game and it forms as an introduction to the design of the game. Upon finishing this introduction does the game begin. The story is a decent one that remains fairly interesting throughout, with a variety of different characters helping to create the story. However, having your own created characters makes the game’s story feel more generic. It would have been nice to have one main canon character that you play as throughout the game which would have added more character to the story. Overall, the game does not do enough to make newcomers feel welcome.
The game plays like traditional first-person dungeon crawling games and has a very strong resemblance to the Etrian Odyssey games. In relation to the story, one design that I found interesting was that it essentially throws you straight into the game without any explanation to the games battle mechanics, controls etc. If you have never played this kind of game before, expect a tough ride straight from the get go. Additionally, you may be confused with the concept of the game. I did actually like this aspect about the game since it allowed me to gain a taste of the game before an endless slew of dialogue. The visual novel aspects of the game, despite being okay to read did tend to drag on a little on occasions. Whereby I really just wanted to actually play the game again. Furthermore, I did encounter slight grammar and punctuation issues, though there was nothing major.
In terms of the gameplay itself, I found it to be very smooth. Exploring the large maze liked maps was fluid and battles were fast paced to the point that battles could last a matter of seconds. This made exploring these massive areas less cumbersome as fights would not drag on during encounters. The game itself can be quite fun to play when you get into it, making it potentially an addictive experience. This game adds a new feature to the previous game, which is the ability to add another blood to your character. Bloods are essentially the classes of your characters e.g. a Monk is a blood/class which can cause high damage physical attacks to a single enemy. Thus, to add context to this example you could add a Healer blood which gives your Monk character healing characteristics and the ability to heal etc. This allows for a variety of team compositions, allowing you to design a team tailored around your own fighting style. Considering you have a team (a Xth squad) of six means that the team compositions are endless. I also liked the character customisation which had a surprising amount of depth, allowing you to create your own squad of anime styled characters. Moreover, this allows for different types of teams and formations to be built with ease. Furthermore, the fact you can store multiple characters means that you can change to different ones at ease.
However, if you found the Bloods feature complicated then the complications don’t end there. In fact, I found the game overly confusing to the point where I wasn’t sure if I was using certain features to their maximum potential or even correctly. Furthermore, sometimes even the game had difficulty explaining its own concepts properly. Missions which explain games features are vague which lead to me becoming even more confused in relation to the Development Room etc. The Development room essentially allows you to develop new equipment and scrap others for materials to develop more. These menus are unorganized, and features have unusual titles which make it overwhelming to understand what all these features do. Additionally, it makes finding those features that you want to use even more difficult. The menus present a slew of information on screen at once with little explanation. Additionally, the handbook contains a lot of information about the game, however it is extremely untidy to look at. This makes learning how to use the game’s systems properly and the consequences of doing so a chore.
Furthermore, in relation to its confusing game design, hardly anything is clear whereby there is very little indication that you have equipped an item and the attributes that you gain from doing so. This makes it extremely difficult for those new to dungeon crawlers or even RPG games to approach the game as intended by the developers. Additionally, it all contributes to an overall poor interface, which makes it hard to even carry out the simplest of tasks. For example, using items, magic etc. requires you to go through multiple menus which becomes extremely mundane and unorganized. It took me a few minutes to find an item within the menus that I was required to use in order to travel over a specific floor type. In addition, there is a network feature which allows you to write notes throughout a dungeon which can help yourself and others as you explore. It is similar to the Dark Souls games, and I thought it was a neat feature. Though, a lot of these messages were entirely useless and often funny.
Although information is display in a confusing and ugly manner making learning about the game’s mechanics a chore, the overall presentation in terms of visuals is pretty good. The graphics in Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy are fairly decent for a Vita game. You will explore 3D areas that look okay on a Vita screen, however considering the game is maze like you will spend most of your time in these dungeons looking at walls. Whilst this is often an issue for most dungeon crawler games, I noticed that the locations in this game were fairly uninspired and bland looking. I did like the character art that the game offered, furthermore character designs were mostly varied which contributed to making the story more interesting. Additionally, enemy artwork is very good too with a variety of different Variants to battle.
During battle, it would have been nice to see more animating effects to create the impression of the enemies moving. Enemies tend to appear like images and therefore remain still during battle which makes battles less engaging. In addition, after the initial battles, the game then presents an intro which is atypical for anime styled games. This one is fairly nicely done despite not being animated, which further contributes to the overall positive impression that I got from the visual aspects of the game. I also liked that on some occasions, during important events that the game would display some artwork of the moment that was occurring in the story. This helped created immersion of the event taking place and the artwork was also on the whole, very nicely done. The game performs well and if you like playing games with an anime appearance there is very little to fault in terms of the game’s presentation visually.
The sound is okay but nothing special. Additionally, sound effects that occur during battle etc. are all fairly generic which led to overall forgettable audio. The good news is that there is voice acting, except that it is only in Japanese, the voice acting on the whole however sounded okay. I find it strange that the first game in the series had voice acting, however in this game there is no inclusion of an English Dub. I found this disappointing as it would have helped reduce the tiresome reading of the occasionally long dialogue.
There is not much that can be said for the replay value in Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy. There is a lack of anything else that can be done post game, thus leading to low replay value. Players that really engage with the game however could explore the endless possibilities of creating characters with different combinations of bloods and attempt to build the most powerful team. Moreover, the game is relatively long. If you take the time to understand how the game’s mechanics work, it could take well over 50 hours to beat which is a considerable amount of time.
Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy is a game that comes from a developer which is usually known for making well-made dungeon crawlers. Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy could have been one of these titles, it has nice artwork, relatively good presentation in terms of its visuals and a somewhat interesting story. However, its overwhelmingly complicated systems are its downfall. Newcomers will be confused with the games countless menus and its cumbersome methods of item management. There is very little to grasp upon playing for a couple of hours which will most likely put off a lot of gamers from the start. This game only comes recommended for those that have previously played and enjoyed a lot of first-person dungeon crawling games.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation Vita code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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