For a period in 2015 and 2016, the Vita saw a lot of dungeon crawler releases. Now, NIS is bringing us another one with Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy.
As the title suggests, Operation Babel is the sequel to Operation Abyss, which we reviewed back in 2015. We pointed out how we enjoyed the sci-fi setting of the game but lamented how the game could be interpreted as over-ambitious – trying to be everything for everyone. Operation Babel more or less continues along the same lines, sticking to a similar setting and formula.
In the sequel, a large alien object called “The Embryo” has appeared over the city – causing you to once again face off against Variants inside a variety of labyrinths with your squad of investigators. After playing the first game, the plot and story development here seems rather generic – like what you’d expect from a straight to video sequel to a movie that did so-so at the box office.
The actual gameplay is still solid though, but it definitely helps when you’re familiar with the first game to prevent being overwhelmed. Aside from everything that was in that game, you can now also add a sub class to your characters – turning them into hybrids with interesting skill combinations. This is a great addition, but it also makes leveling up a lot slower since you’re basically spreading your experience points across two different skill trees. Patience required.
As in Operation Abyss, you’re still playing with a squad of characters – and carefully balancing your team is still important. Skills and spells are acquired by selecting “Blood codes”, which is where the sub classes come in as well. This adds a layer of complexity to the game that veterans of the genre (and players of the first game) will welcome, but it might be daunting for newcomers.
The audiovisual presentation is decent, but feels like a step back from the first game. Visually not much has changed – with crisp high quality visuals for most of the characters but a lack of variation and detail when it comes to the labyrinth environments. I was surprised to find out that Operation Babel no longer features English dubbing though – since it was the only available option in the original game. It might be personal taste, but it’s a part of the localization process I missed when playing Babel.
Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy is a perfectly competent game, but I wouldn’t recommend playing it without first playing the first game in the series or playing either one if you’ve never played a dungeon crawler before. If you have, then Abyss is a nice new entry for you and Babel is its competent follow-up. Aside from the voice dubbing, there’s nothing to dissuade those who enjoyed Abyss.