However, after the game’s original release in 2013, the top-down mech action game came out as a digital game for the PlayStation Vita. This is not the first Damascus Gear game; it is a series of mobile games in Japan. The game’s origins may explain why it feels so dull.
The story behind Damascus Gear is that a large portion of mechs became self aware and turned on the humans. These mechs are called Rage, and now several groups of humans and non-evil mechs are tasked with wiping them out. Despite the setup being unoriginal, the game could redeem itself with a good plot and/or characters. Well, it does not. There are several characters in the game, none of which are voice acted, and they all fall into some sort of trope. For instance, there is one guy who solely exists to be your rival. He constantly tells you how he is a far better pilot than you; that is it, there is nothing else that his character does.
What hurts the story even more than weak characters is the fact that there is barely a story. You need to kill all the mechs. Nothing is expanded upon that, no central antagonist is given or anything, just shoot mechs until they are all dead. Even with the lack of plot, the game still interrupts you during missions so the characters can have meaningless conversation. It is annoying, and ruins the pace of the game.
Damascus Gear has the graphical quality of a mobile game. Customizing a mech sounds fantastic, but it looks like a bunch of ugly building blocks. If I am given hundreds of pieces of armor, I want it to look awesome. However, the blandness of the graphics does not stop at the mechs. The game takes place in seven areas, and they have three designs. Four of the areas are the streets of Tokyo, three of the areas are underground bases (one of those does have some unique parts, but it is still nearly identical) and one is a circular arena that a handful of missions take place in. These areas are constantly recycled and after a few hours, it gets repetitive.
Since none of the characters are voice acted, all of the dialogue is presented in text boxes. I am fine with a lack of voice acting, but not when the text looks like its all one word. Whatever font was used made it look like there were no spaces between words. I had to reread large chunks of dialogue to make sure that I was reading the words correctly. Something like this seems like a little detail, but when done wrong it can severely impact the game.
As mentioned before, the game revolves around personalizing a mech. There are a variety of weapons, armor, and colors that can go onto the mech. Three weapons can be equipped: one of the left arm, one on the right arm, and a special weapon on the back. My main loadout was a shotgun and a machine gun on my arms and a grenade launcher on my back. Each weapon is tied to either the square, triangle, or circle button; I got through most of the game mashing circle to fire my grenade launcher. There is no strategy at all to the combat. Circle, circle, circle, square, square, rinse and repeat is the normal pace of it. Obviously, this got boring.
For some reason, there is this stigma that more content equals a better game. Damascus Gear proves otherwise. It feels so drawn out. If this game had been five hours, I would have probably walked away with a better opinion. Instead it lasted twelve hours and by the time I finished it, I felt exhausted. It does not help that the game ends three times. There are eight missions after the mission called “The Final Battle”. Eight. The one prior to “The Final Battle” had me wipe out the remaining Rage in Tokyo. There were 300 of them to kill (oh, and the game has no checkpoints, meaning if 290 Rage have been defeated, and you die, those 290 come back). Right after “The Final Battle” I was told to wipe out the remnants of the Rage. 300 more. After being told I had wiped out all of them in Tokyo, the game made me do it again.
The Verdict: 5.0 out of 10
There are plenty of other Vita games that can be played besides Damascus Gear. The best I can say about it is, at least it all works. Every part of the game functions the way it is supposed to. Unfortunately, the way it is supposed to work makes for a very dull game.
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