Damascus Gear: Operation Tokyo: Mindless mech mania

April 14, 2015


There have been many differing takes on the mech combat genre throughout the history of games, and Damascus Gear: Operation Tokyo offers a competent (if relatively simplistic) action-oriented spin. There are plenty of customization options for enthusiasts who love gearing out their rigs in the best available equipment with customized colors and looks, but there just isn’t enough compelling gameplay underneath to keep the casual mech crowd interested.

Combat in Damascus Gear plays out on an isometric battlefield, where you will be moving your mech with a combination of boosts and dodges to outmaneuver the enemies and strike them with your weapons as you can. There are three main weapons that your mech can bring into combat and these can be customized pretty fully in the pre-battle menus. The weapon classes each fill a niche, like the close-combat melee weapon, the medium-range gun or the long-range super cannon (with its high damage and incredibly slow fire).

Each of these weapons has a cool-down gauge which curtails extreme button mashing to an extent, but the combat isn’t much deeper than this. There are no Bayonetta-style combos or even many enemies that require a modicum of strategy. Most of the encounters boil down to dodging, managing the cool downs and healing when necessary. This, unfortunately, gets pretty repetitive pretty quickly.


The story of Damascus Gear is presented through pre-mission and post-mission mini cut-scenes (generally talking heads), but when given the time, it does develop into something interesting. The game is set in a future when human beings are on the brink of extinction, and you are joining a unit of combatants to help fight the mech threat. The various characters appear initially to be somewhat shallow, but they are well-written and there is more than initially meets the eye. I found the narrative to be compelling enough to genuinely have me curious about the next development in the plot, and it provided a nice backdrop for the action.

A bigger fault of the game that contributes heavily to its repetitive nature is in the reuse of the available maps. There are only a few main arenas for combat, and they get used and reused in nearly every mission. When playing multiple missions back-to-back, it would even get bad enough that I would forget if I had checked a given corridor of the area during the current mission, or if I needed to check again because I cleared it last mission. This detracted heavily from the immersion of the game world, and it made the already one-note gameplay feel even more monotone.


The area where Damascus Gear really shines, and the thing that will absolutely keep the hard-core mech community involved, is in the customization system for the available gear. There are numerous components to your mech that you can customize, from head piece and body armor to shoulder armor and leg gear. Added to the three different weapons, these make for numerous options for the stat junkie to immerse themselves in while trying to achieve a desired build. There are also a ton of different stats available on the different pieces, as well as various bonuses like faster recharge times and quicker move speeds available on select items. Each gear piece also comes with a weight cost and so deciding which gear you want while also staying under the weight cap limit became an interesting meta game in itself.

Along with customizing the look of your gear through the various equipment pieces available, each of the pieces can be set to a custom color, really allowing you to go full out with designing the most insane mech combat warrior you can dream. The ability to design and customize a mech is a big part of the appeal for game in this genre, and I think this is one area that Damascus Gear gets right.


The biggest bummer for me was that, in the end, my choices didn’t really affect my success or failure rate on the battlefield. The combat, again, just isn’t deep enough to support this level of player choice, so it felt like I was able to steamroll most of the content regardless of design decision, provided that I was using gear that had been dropped in a relatively recent mission. This ended up reducing the mech customization part of Damascus Gear to an almost doll-dress-up like system, which instantly felt a lot less exciting.

Damascus Gear has some fun things to offer for those that are die-hard mech combat fans, but for anyone who doesn’t fall into this category, there just isn’t much there. The repetition and lack of depth to the combat system really undermine an interesting customization and design aspect to the playable mech. I don’t necessarily need my mech games to come with a controller loadout like Steel Battalion, but I do need more interesting things to do than Damascus Gear provides.

Pros: Varied mech customization system, passable storyline and characters
Cons: Repetitive and unimaginative gameplay, map recycling

Score: 2/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.