Title: Damascus Gear Operation Osaka
Developer: Arc System Works
Release Date: August 29, 2019
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Arc System Works
Mech games are often a weakness of mine. Any time one comes out, I feel the need to play it as seen in the 150 hours I’ve put into Gundam Breaker 3. However, I’m always up to play new games and see how different developers take on the genre. This is what originally had me so eager to play the Arc System Works develop mech action game Damascus Gear Operation Osaka. Now, the game is available on Switch, and it seems like a good fit for the console hybrid.
Damascus Gear Operation Osaka throws you right into the scariest event imaginable, a large sum of debt. As the player, you inherit a mech and a garage along with a lot of debt that has to be paid back over 30 days. The game is set in a world that had once been taken over by berserk AI-controlled mechs known as RAGE. After almost losing the battle, humans learned to use technology against the RAGE with their units known as GEARs. After many years, humans reclaimed parts of Japan, but the war is still going on underground.
The story and history of the game come up in the later parts of the game, but you wouldn’t know that from the first few hours of the game. In the beginning, it seems to be all about paying off your debt, but the player ends up playing a much larger role in the fight against the RAGE. The game does have a time limit of 30 days and each day offers the player new things to do that will grant them money to put towards their debt and acquiring new gear. The idea here is to pay it off by the deadline.
The premise is pretty zany, but there are moments in the story that have you wanting to know more. During the game, you have these strange dreams of silhouette figure informing you of your importance to the cause and it leads to some interesting realizations. This will most likely only grab the attention of those who invest themselves in the story, but it one aspect of the game that I ended up liking and wasn’t expecting.
Missions in the game have you climbing the ranks as you complete them. The higher the rank, the larger the reward. Each mission plays out fairly similar, but to enjoy them, I would suggest that you be open-minded to dungeon crawlers. You see, players will descend floor by floor in the dungeon as they clear out rooms of mechs and collect items. Missions have several objectives that need to be completed by the time you exit, but this is something that usually happens by the end of the dungeon.
By design, these dungeons can get extremely repetitive along with the enemies that you face. Luckily, it’s possible to lock onto enemies and dodge around their bullets, but most of the early missions won’t pose too much of a threat. As you climb the ranks, missions do get harder, but they also get longer which requires the player to enjoy this dungeon-crawling game loop. I felt that these missions came off as a little mindless as I traveled floor by floor clearing rooms of enemies, and yet I was still having a bit of fun with it.
The best way to earn money in the game is through the Arena. This is where you’ll face off against other powerful mechs and test out your abilities. While the first fights can feel more like an endurance contest, the arena battles towards the later levels do test your skills a bit more. Something I found interesting about these matches is how they gave each of the GEAR pilots a personality with avatar and voice actor. It just made the fight more entertaining considering they can get rather repetitive.
A key feature found in the game is the customization system which doesn’t require any technical knowledge or skills to create some badass mechs. The customization systems in the game are extremely approachable and easy to understand which allowed me to create a mech that fits my playstyle. Players can equip two weapons on the hands and a special weapon. Aside from this, the GEAR’s armor can also be customized on different parts. The stats of a mech can be improved depending on who your fighting as well, such as, if you are going up against a mech with lasters you can raise your laser defense and so on.
The issues with the game stem from it having an identity crisis. There are moments when it focuses heavily on the story for a long period and then simply wants you to run through floors and floors of dungeons as if you are playing Diablo. Shortly after, it turns into an arena fighter with battles that typically play out the same. There is an extreme lack of variety here whether it be found in the levels or enemy types and the game requires that you look past all of that until you get to the twists in the story, which are arguably the best part about it. Also, I think that the AI companion talks a little too much over the game, especially when she says something every time you pick up an item.
Damascus Gear Operation Osaka should be seen as a nice entry-level mech action game that takes away the complexity of other titles in the genre and presents a little something for every. It doesn’t raise the bar of the genre or present anything too unique outside of a few good moments of story and simply comes off as average. The game was design to be played on the go and that’s perhaps the best way to experience the game. I would like to see more from this series and not just a port from the Vita version. The story and world created in this game deserve a new entry and you can bet that I’ll play it.
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