Review – Damascus Gear: Operation Osaka (Switch)

Have you ever been on a date with someone who genuinely seemed like a lot of fun, but you quickly got annoyed with them because they just couldn’t shut up? I never thought I’d see the equivalent of this in the gaming world, but that’s the best way I can sum upĀ Damascus Gear: Operation Osaka.

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Blue bots are so easy to kill, I love mowing them down.

Damascus Gear: Operation Osaka is a very simple game to describe. Think of a loot-heavy dungeon crawler like Diablo or Torchlight, but with robots, not unlike that one Implosion game I reviewed two years ago. It’s meant for short bursts, with short missions that don’t last more than five to ten minutes at a time. It’s perfect for a portable system, considering this was originally developed for the good ol’ Playstation Vita. You can also see that it was originally meant for the Vita due to its underwhelming visuals and framerate, as it doesn’t look like a lot of improvements have been added to take advantage of the Switch’s more powerful hardware. Those last four words aren’t things I say too often, by the way.

The game’s controls are simple and straightforward. You explore these “dungeons” with an isometric perspective, going through floors, destroying tons of enemies and collecting loot on your way. The combat isn’t very deep, but it certainly didn’t need to be either. You have three weapons at your disposal, each one with its dedicated button, as well as a speed booster and a dodge button. Neither of those feature cooldown meters, so you can spam them as much as you want in order to avoid the constant barrage of enemy bullets coming at your direction, as well as looking flashy while doing so. You can also collect and equip different parts for your mech, buy or sell them at a shop, as well as fight against other robots in a close arena in order to earn a huge sum of money at once. It’s not an inventive gameplay loop, but it works. It’s simple, harmless, and fun in short bursts.

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Arena fights are the game’s highlight.

So far, I’ve been praising Damascus Gear: Operation Osaka quite a bit, but then there’s the major deal breaker: the plot. This also encompasses all the dialogue present in this game. It’s been a while since I’ve last seen a game that doesn’t know when to shut up. Whenever you’re in between a mission, your assistant shows up to talk to you about your next mission or other things happening with you, such as the constant Tom Nook-esque amounts of debt you need to repay at all times.

Her dialogue never stops. She just talks, and talks, and talks. Then when you think she’s done, she’ll keep on talking, making what should have been a quick pick-up-and-play game into a massive slog. At times I wish I could act like the protagonist from Doom and just make the NPCs shut up just so I could go back to action as quickly as possible. Things don’t get better once you enter a mission, as your companion will still talk to you at all times. Found an elevator? She’ll talk. Found an enemy? She’ll talk. Found ten items at once? She’ll talk about the rarity of each one of these items. It doesn’t matter if you’ve acquired ten common items of the same type, she’ll just proceed to say “this is common” ten times in a row. A major shame, considering that that game’s soundtrack is actually quite good.

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Pot, meet kettle.

Maybe it’s because I got so fed up of mecha franchises with a ton of unnecessary dialogue that goes nowhere, but I feel like Damascus Gear: Operation Osaka tried to do too much when it was not needed. It’s a simple dungeon crawler featuring giant robots, I don’t see the reason for the mind-boggling amounts of tutorials and dialogue included in it. It’s not bad, it’s actually quite fun in short bursts, which is a totally great fit for the Switch, but I wish it didn’t take itself so seriously. Nobody is playing this game for the plot. Nobody.

 

Graphics: 5.0

Originally developed for the Playstation Vita, this game is definitely not a looker. Nothing in it is terrible by any means, but its environments, textures, mech designs, and framerate are just passable at best.

Gameplay: 8.0

Your standard isometric shooter gameplay, with three weapon slots at your disposal, as well as a speed booster and a dodge mechanic. It’s not inventive, but it’s fast-paced and responsive enough. The overall gameplay loop is also decent.

Sound: 5.5

I was actually impressed with the adrenaline-pumping soundtrack whenever I was inside a dungeon, but I was irritated beyond belief with the amount of never-ending dialogue included in this game.

Fun Factor: 5.5

The game would have been a lot more fun and a lot less tiresome if it didn’t have an immense amount of exposition and dialogue in between and during missions. It makes what could have been a fast-paced arcade-friendly title a slog at many points.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Damascus Gear: Operation Osaka is available now on PS4, PS Vita, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Damascus Gear: Operation Osaka was provided by the publisher.

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