Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy is a sequel to 2015's Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy. Both games are dungeon RPGs from Nippon Ichi Software (NIS) with gameplay reminiscent of the Wizardry series. This type of role-playing genre has recently been growing in popularity, especially in the handheld gaming scene. Operation Babel would've stood out among the most recent dungeon RPGs, had it not been just more of the same.
After a mysterious object called 'The Embryo' looms over Tokyo, menacing creatures called 'variants' begin to appear. You find yourself being recruited by an elite covert task force called the Xth Squad, tasked with combating this enigmatic enemy with the help of your rare genetic abilities and uncover the secret behind this otherworldly threat.Operation Babel is a direct sequel to Operation Abyss, but prior knowledge of the previous game is hardly ever necessary with just the occasional references to past events and appearances for previous characters.
The science fictional story has a couple interesting twists here and there, but it's all still average as far as JRPG stories go. Every time I start to feel interested in the story, something gets in the way. Sometimes it's the needlessly complexified plot, other times, it's a simple matter of typos or poor translations. But perhaps what really yanks me out of the enjoyment of the story are the poor attempts at player choices. Too many times have I turned something down only for the narrative to force me into accepting it anyway. It might not seem like too big of a deal but its just so poorly executed; like they're barely even trying to give me the illusion of choice.
Overall, I'd say Operation Babel is mediocre at best, but the story really shouldn't be the reason to get this game anyway. If anything, it serves as a solid excuse for you to crawl dungeons, whack monsters, and rack up levels. As with all good RPGs, that's all that matters.
Regardless of the quality of its story, a role-playing game is only as good as the gameplay system behind it. RPGs can usually get away with a mediocre —or even a bad— story with really good RPG elements surrounding it. This is especially true with dungeon RPGs as they usually forgo flashy cinematics and three-dimensional visuals in favor of numbers, numbers, and even better numbers.
Inspired by the style popularized by the Wizardry games from the 80s, Operation Babel is a first-person, turn-based role-playing game. Almost immediately, the game thrusts you straight into all the action, navigating labyrinths, managing your party and racking up numbers. There's definitely a deep RPG system behind Operation Babel with a strong emphasis on party composition and equipment management. Babel is still largely the same compared to its predecessor save for a couple new classes and the ability to add a secondary sub-class for each character, vastly increasing the layer of strategy in building your party.
For genre veterans, Babel's systems are relatively identical with the rest of its ilk and should be a cinch to get into, but for newcomers, it can be pretty daunting. You can opt for a pre-organized party with good enough class composition to get you through the game, but besides forming parties, many other components within the game can prove to be too perplexing. Terminologies and descriptions can sometimes get confusing, and certain systems seem redundant or needlessly complex. I'm no stranger to RPG concepts, but I can imagine even hardcore RPG fans will find some of Babel's features abstruse.
For the most part, you'll be navigating through hellish dungeons and cyber labyrinths in a grid-based navigation system, moving one cell at a time. While exploring dungeons you'll begin to randomly encounter monsters, loot, traps, and even the occasional hidden objects.The earlier dungeons are pretty straightforward, gradually increasing in difficulty as you progress.The difficulty eventually starts to snowball faster that you can master the combat system. The challenges are sometimes too messy and tangled to enjoy, much less solve, given how unmindfully thought out they seem to be. I often feel little to no sense of accomplishment after every solve, just a sense relief that I've made it past them, partly because I found most of the dungeons and it's inhabitants largely uninteresting.
Besides dungeons, you'll be sinking much of your time in the Development Lab, where you can appraise, purchase, craft, and salvage weapons and equipment. There's a ton of things you can play around with here, but again, certain features seem redundant or overcomplicated. They work, but they could have at least been better optimized or, at least, better explained. The game's core RPG elements are pretty standard stuff, but due to its sci-fi nature, much of the attributes, status ailments and terminologies are thematically named, causing much confusion. Same goes for icons, too. Much of them could have been better designed (a pair of feet above a horizontal line would have made for a better icon to symbolize floating status than a plain blue circle, wouldn't you think?) to avoid misinterpretation.
Understandably, the game is for a niche fanbase and part of its objective is to deliver a deep, complex RPG experience, but there are plenty here that could have been refined without sacrificing any of the depth. At the very least, they should have fine-tuned their own system established from the first game. Nevertheless, it's a passable RPG experience, especially if you haven't played much of any other recent dungeon RPGs out there now.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Perhaps the game's title serves as the perfect analogy as to where the game stands. All the words are the exact same save for one. A slight difference that isn't particularly better.
Check out our review for Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy.
|+ Entertaining story||– Translation leaves a lot to be desired|
|+ Delightful anime visual style||– Recycled assets|
|+ Deep role-playing elements||– Convoluted mechanics|