When Damascus Gear – Operation Tokyo was first released, it slipped by me somehow – though I played it when it re-released on Steam. Now, its sequel, Operation Osaka, has been released. It’s out for Playstation 4, the Playstation Vita and PC (through Steam).
Both Damascus Gear titles look and play very similar, and both focus on mech combat and mech customization in a futuristic/apocalyptic setting. The backstory is nothing we haven’t heard before, with robots rebelling against and nearly wiping out mankind – just before mankind fights back, in this case using giant man-operated mechs.
The events in Operation Osaka play out after the events of the original game (which focuses on the war itself), and it narratively disconnected from the first game as well. The war (World War IV) serves mostly as a backstory, with the spotlight being on what’s happening in former Osaka fifty years later. At that time, it’s been turned into the city of Cosmopolis – in which you’re a mech pilot who has racked up a huge amount of debt that you have to try and pay off.
Once you hit the actual gameplay portion of the game, things start becoming more familiar. Operation Osaka, much like Tokyo, uses an isometric point of view to display the action. I’ve been a fan of this style ever since the days of Crusader: No Remorse, as it makes controls easy to manage and keeps the action tight and fluid. 3D never felt as comfortable, although the twin stick shooter did a lot to fix this and made the isometric perspective disappear from view. For Damascus Gear, the choice was probably partly fueled by the fact that the series was originally developed for the Playstation Vita, so a smooth and detailed isometric perspective was probably preferred over a more crude 3D approach.
The Vita origins of the game shine through in other areas as well – which definitely includes the gameplay. Both Damascus Gear titles have been designed with the ability to play the game in short bursts in mind, with the ability to manage your acquired loot in between the relatively short levels. Operation Osaka differs from its predecessor due to its narrative setting, and no longer just offers “fight for the survival of mankind” type of battles. Instead, many of your levels will be arena-type bouts where your goal is simply to make it out with a win so you can pay off a part of your debt – besides deathmatch-type scenarios, there are often other win conditions in place as well.
In addition to arena-based combat, you can also enter the dungeons underneath Cosmopolis to try and gather loot that will help you in your arena career by giving you more and better customization options. You’ll also be able to upgrade your pilot’s stats, giving an even greater amount of variety to the game’s otherwise straightforward combat.
It’s easy to just jump into the combat, play a few rounds and then quit before returning again later. There’s a narrative that runs in between your combat missions that keeps things entertaining, but the main draw is definitely the cycle of combat and then upgrading/customization that keeps pushing you forward. Maps, both in arena and dungeon modes, are randomized, so you won’t easily be bored of the layout – though the combat itself will feel somewhat repetitive if you’re someone who likes to play for hours on end. Best to just stick to the Vita principle that the original design was built around – short burst of fun mech action from an isometric perspective. Competitively priced, this is what the Damascus Gear games deliver very well.