Damascus Gear: Operation Osaka is an interesting alternative of the fast paced mech genre, with the ambition that this will be an exciting adventure of exploring cities, underground facilities and have intense combat with other mech machines and enemies. The game portrays a very different, somewhat disappointing experience.
You play as a new pilot of the mecha called GEAR, and has enlisted as a Ranker in Saikyou City, a city sized, ‘cosmopolis’ facility. With the aid of your android assistant, who has a down-to-earth personality (far from the comparison of ‘accessories’ from Freedom Wars), you work tirelessly in a race against time to pay off the inherited debt of 100,000,000 Eryn that needs to be paid in 30 days. The plot is simple, however, can get lost in the long-winded dialogue, and pointless explanations of Saikyou City’s history, which is alienating. Since we never fully explore the city in the gameplay, you can’t help but feel trapped in the repeating cycle of being present in one room with an A.I., instead of being given the free reigns of exploring the city.
Although one may first glance at this game and compare to the likes of Zone of the Enders or Armored Core, this game takes a different route. The game is a combination of a dungeon crawler and arena fighting with hack and slash action. Once per day during the countdown of 30 days, you can choose to do either Arena matches with other Rankers or can choose to complete missions that are simple dungeon crawlers and the levels that you can access increase as you gain more experience. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long before the game becomes a bit repetitive and a ‘rinse and repeat’ process to earn enough money to pay the debt as well as buying parts for customisation and evacuation fees. In fact, there is a lot of focus on money in this game, perhaps it’s trying to teach us gamers about the cruel world of debt and working hard?
A positive feature of Damascus Gear is the customisation system, where you can upgrade parts of your GEAR, such as colour, attachments and weapons which can range from laser cannons, swords to shotguns and grenades. The parts affect and change the stats of the GEAR, making it more powerful or weaker, so you must incorporate strategy and decision making when deciding what attachments, you want to use. The game allows a lot of opportunity to help us get stronger, for the tough enemies ahead in the game, which is brilliant since, in some action RPG games, it is difficult to find moments to upgrade systematically and keep up with the demands of the game.
The controls are simple, smooth and responsive, like a typical hack and slash title, even though you do end up resorting to mashing buttons frantically at times. There is also a lock on function, which makes aiming and combat a lot easier especially since the game is in a bird’s eye view. The weapons that you equip to progress through the stage will eventually run out of ammo or charge and you must wait a few seconds before it replenishes, which is helpful since we can focus on other aspects of the mission, rather than desperately searching for ammo.
Although the game becomes tedious and repetitive, Damascus Gear hasn’t entirely failed in setting the scene of an anime-style, cyberpunk mecha hack and slash title. This game certainly succeeds in weaving its own world through the pages of dialogue shared in the game, and you’re A.I assistant can bring her own humour to the table, she even attempts to compete in a comedy show, which are good distractions from other issues. Damascus Gear allows a lot of space for the player to prosper and grow, however, there could have been a wider variety in what we can accomplish. Ultimately, the game would be better if we could be given the freedom to explore Saikyou City and had more of an open world aspect. We hear so much about Saikyou City, it wouldn’t hurt to have the ability to explore it.
Overall, Damascus Gear does not live up to the expectations of its mecha competitors and leaves a lot to be desired. However, we cannot dismiss this as a complete failure, the music sets the scene for the cyberpunk, sci-fi setting, the gameplay is simple and responsive, and the customisation system sets this game apart from titles such as Zone of the Enders, which doesn’t have such a feature. Furthermore, you slowly become determined over time to pay off this debt, just like in reality, so you don’t have another anxious thought in this worrisome world.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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