Operation Darkness Hands-On

We battle Nazi Germany's supernatural forces in this upcoming tactical role-playing game.

48 Comments

What do werewolves, dragons, zombies, and vampires have in common? Besides being cool--and by cool we mean totally sweet--they now appear in a tactical RPG alongside the infantry and armored vehicles of the Third Reich. We recently had the opportunity to dig in deep and do our best to stop the Blitzkrieg with a team of supernaturally-powered Allied soldiers in Atlus' upcoming Operation Darkness, and we bring back tales of a very different version of World War II.

In the early stages of the war, young friends Edward and Jude are stationed in North Africa as members of the British army. When their unit is tasked with the interception of a vital piece of enemy intelligence from the forces of the Desert Fox Erwin Rommel, commander of the German Afrika Korps, things take a tragic turn. Their entire unit is wiped out in a Panzer ambush and Edward is nearly killed, only to be saved by the timely aid of a friendly SAS unit and an emergency blood transfusion from James Gallant, its commanding officer. Soon, Edward and Jude find themselves transferred to Gallant's mysterious unit, the Wolf Pack, where they learn the dark secrets of Hitler's success and are caught in the middle of a centuries-old conflict.

Of all the games in its genre, Operation Darkness is most similar to the Fire Emblem series in that it features a very character-driven story that relies heavily on dialogue to paint a number of personal backgrounds against an overarching backdrop of war. But beyond that and the standard grid-based movement system, Operation Darkness does a good job of standing apart from its colleagues.

At last, a game that pits werewolves against dragons in turn-based combat.
At last, a game that pits werewolves against dragons in turn-based combat.

Because this is a war fought with guns and not swords, nearly every attack performed is ranged, and to compensate for this, maps are often so large that they can require multiple turns of maneuvering before your troops are even within range to score a hit. Though different types of weapons will have different optimal ranges, you are always informed of the to-hit chances of your attack landing, and in this way, there is a ton of opportunity for strategy--do you chance the lucky shot or wait a turn and risk counterattack for a sure hit? Beyond gunplay, however, there are a variety of other types of attacks to use. Your units each feature different special powers, such as the ability to throw fireballs or reanimate dead allies, and some of them can transform into full werewolves for incredible boosts to strength and movement range.

More so than in other tactical RPGs, taking cover and outflanking your enemies are important tactics to master because of the incredible effect that the battlefield's environment can have on combat. Buildings, trees, sandbag walls, towers, and more litter the terrain and provide ample places to hide from incoming fire. Small cliffs can provide bonuses to range against targets below, and you'll often find yourself assaulting enemy positions with hidden perimeter mines, which can be seen only if your cursor happens across them. But just as the old adage goes, the shortest path between two points is a straight line, and this holds true even in Operation Darkness. Most of the obstacles on the battlefield are fully destructible if your gun packs a high-enough caliber, and you may actually find it easier--and certainly more fun--to tear down those trees than to go around them.

Another great new feature in Operation Darkness is the oddly named Cover system. Before you perform any other actions with one of your units, you can select from one of three Cover settings, which places your soldiers in a holding position but grants them special abilities. Cover Move lets you set a trigger--either on another unit or over a specific area--and then select a location to move to in a radius larger than your normal move distance. When the trigger is tripped, either by the specified unit moving or by the area being moved through, your Cover Move soldier will automatically go to the spot you assigned him to. In this way, you can have entire groups of soldiers move simultaneously, rapidly changing the face of the battle. If you assign someone to Cover Ambush, anytime an enemy unit moves into their range, they will automatically fire on them. Similarly, Cover Attack will cause your unit to fire on anyone in range that opens fire on an ally. When used properly or in concert with each other, those last two options can absolutely decimate a larger enemy force.

Unlike other, similar games, Operation Darkness forgoes the traditional isometric view, instead opting for a fully 3D camera that allows for full control and some dramatic cinematic shots of weapons being discharged. Unfortunately, this camera is more often than not a greater threat to the Wolf Pack's mission than the SS due to its unwieldy nature--it's incredibly difficult to get a proper view of enemy positions relative to your own or in the line of sight in order to set up attacks.

Operation Darkness will be available in stores on June 24. Look for our final word once it hits the shelves, but if you can't wait that long to try out this unique alternate-history tactical RPG, be sure to download the demo currently available on Xbox Live Arcade.

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KevComesRipping

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Wow how could they release a game that looks this bad?? It's not even a movie game for goodness sake.

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wogglies5

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This game might suck. I'm not saying that myself, it looks like it has a great story but other people (oxm magazine, other companies) says it has a crappy interface,bargain bin graphics and Goons materialize out of thin air and are overpoweredand brainless. I dont know how they got it already before the 24th but they rated it a 2.0/10.

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atljindo

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wow this game is terrible, this looks like a title that fell under the table during original playstation productions and is being released for the lulz horrible rpg attempt.

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ninjarocklee

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Theres a few other games that are tactical (not out yet) Can't wait haven't tried the demo (if it's still on xbox live) so I'll look tonight and try it. "edit" Really good turn based play but I hope they put the camera in free look during combat as well.

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Tr3vz

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this game pwns all face

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Chogyam

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I loved the demo. I didn't have that much trouble with the camera. I can't wait for this game. This is definitely a game for gamers who love deep gameplay, and not flashy "bloom" graphics

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Yyin9564

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i played the demo... although the camera had its problems its nothing that can't be fixed... that aside i love tactical RPG games and since this is one of the only one coming to the 360 i'm gonna buy it

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Lion55

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I tried the demo, and wow does it suck.

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Thm93

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[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

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i_am_dummy

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I thought the demo was fun, I'm renting this game when it comes out.

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zhivago_x

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Looks interesting. And I agree with SkeletalKnight

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TheoleDominion1

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Truly unique game, played the demo and couldn't stop playing. Once you understand how DEEP the gameplay is, lack of graphics are easily overlooked. Like mentioned in the article getting the proper camera angle can be challenging.

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-expletive-

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i've beaten the Japanese version and I can say I do recommend it to people that are into tactical RPG's. yeah, the camera and graphics blow, but once you get deeper into the game it's really challenging and has satisfying battle mechanics. the goofy story (zombies and nazis?) is told deadpan, something i also found funny

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Marder-I

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I am waiting for this game as well, not sure how it will actually turn out, no real word from the Atlus site on any camera fix, so....... Is there any other type og actual game that combines all these interesting elements? None that I know of at least!! Cheers, to next month coming around FAST!! Tom

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thenephariouson

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I went off TB games after playing 'Fallout', whereby i am faced with a Rat, and after reducing its life point by point with my AUTOMATIC RIFLE i then win with practically no life left. Pathetic!

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Va1eZ

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Played the demo, man, u can't make games with such grafix. Also it's really slow even for a turn-based game. The only thing i liked about it was the combat mechanics.

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Zerosumgame

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Another Japanese reinforcement to keep the troops fighting, how long can it last?

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SkeletalKnight

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Like many of Atlus' other titles, it will likely be underscored by reviews and general public opinion. Fortunately, like most of the other Atlus games, I loved the demo, and will likely be purchasing this game once it is released. I agree that it has its minor issues like camera control, but I'm a huge fan of Fantasy/WWII/Strategy/Atlus titles, so the combination hits somewhere close to home for me. Can't wait!

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thenephariouson

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Was really interested, That is until i find that its a 'Turn Based' game YYAAAWWWWWWWNNNNNNNNNNNN

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Agermemnon

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i did play the demo and no thank you IMO it needs PLENTY of work in all areas but probably won't get it so i doubt i will be going anywhere near it when released and a shame that a good idea will go to waste .

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markharris31

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I thought the demo was a lot of fun. The camera is a bit clunky but once you get used to it you can get around easily enough. Some advice on the demo level... you can pick up items from fallen enemies if you are standing on or near them without using up any actions. Many of them have health restoratives and rocket launchers. Hitting the tanks in the side with a rocket does MASSIVE damage, but even hitting them head on does good damage. P.S. hide behind things!

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Vrygar777

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The demo is pretty cool, there is a lot of potential and this is actually one of the most "strategy" based TBS's there are. Theres only one problem- the camera lol.

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imperial_agent

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played the demo. it was confusing and the graphics were dissapointing. definately passing this one up.

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matheusclifton

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the demo is on live now, but i think its only in the u.k n its pretty gd, but has an absolutly terrible camra.

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SasukeUchihaCMF

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this game looks sweet.with mythical creatures and regular infantry untis and stuff like that hopefully it will b an awesome game. is it only for the 360?

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mazman3434

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Magic skeletens, the red eyed 3rd reich secretary, and col. Von Ruben fight together in the historical battle of vethermor hill? Something is very wrong here.

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James5000

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It's an interesting concept, but will the controls live up?

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Ben399

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OK, which idiot thought of putting Nazis and fantasy together?!!

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joe_ender

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demo was horrible have been wait for a stragety RPG and this will not be the one booooooo could have been could but will continue to be plauged by bad camera ruining the game

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ngboy

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the demo is a mess. the camera is terrible and the cover system is worse ( can't shoot over the hood of a car) not to mention the settings that look generic everywhere so it's difficult to figure out where on the map you are unless you do the tedious zoom out every time. oh and lets not forget the lack of undo when you're in aim mode so you're forced to shoot something after the fact that you've figured out everything is out of range

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CamisadoBlue

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Demos bad games bad... end of

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darkheath

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This game is just goofy... like most games out of Japan. There... I said it. A tactical squad game in WWII has a lot of appeal to me. But not with werewolves, zombies, dragons and super-hot, just-made-up chicks without sportsbras that look like they are 13 with breast implants. Sheesh... I played most of the demo anyway and also got slaughtered by being too close to the tanks when they showed up.

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BontraXenderKyl

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the Turn-Based Combat here looks very well

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Wik_Wanderlust

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Having played the demo, I have to say, I'm impressed. It's nice to have good games under the radar.

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peeweeshift

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hopefully story is nice in the end and the amount of characters gets notched up. thats how fire emblem succeeds. and some more balance would be nice.,

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djsatan667

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It's Atlus I will buy it and it's nice to finally see some 360 love from the importers!

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Trashcan_Man

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Not too keen on the camera, but I love a challenge!

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Taegre

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Had a lot of fun with the demo, though I've yet to actually WIN it. Kill the guys by the house, suddenly a nazi army shows up. Kill the nazi army, suddenly a TANK shows up. Heh, this is the kind of game that will make you feel like an absolute genius if you win it, and rightfully so.

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Elkoman

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Yeah I agree, I was having issues with the camera as well.

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xsubtownerx

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I played the demo and liked it a lot. The Camara is the only issue I have, but everything else seems like it's going to be loads of fun!

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3KindgomsRandy

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The demo does have a really hard to use camera. Not very friendly at all. Hopefully, that gets tweaked, but otherwise, it's looking like a nice game!

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greyknight93

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good game, but the sound for selecting and moving the courser is the same repetitive beep, and gets really annoying. The demo was good, the battles look to take 1-2 hours each with many characters in the game. If they fix the camera and add some color and spoof the game should come out nicely.

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wilso326

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I hope they fix the camera and have a detailed tutorial in the final version. The screwy camera and the lack of a full tutorial in the demo made it hard for me to understand what I was doing at first. If they manange to fix all that, this game might actually be pretty good.

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Galinoth

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I'm always on the lookout for turn based strategy games. This one looks like it has some promise.

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Torque1599

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I'm not usually an ATLUS fan but this actually looks pretty good. I'll wait and see what kind of reviews it gets.

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Lone_Wolff

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I wanted to like this game, but it just moves way too slowly for me for some reason, oh well.

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YoBrandino

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I can not wait! I loved this game. Yeah, I could complain about the camera. But I haven't played a perfect video game yet. The rest of the game (demo) makes up for it.

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Lord_Daemon

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I can't wait! I've played the demo so many times that I'm postively going crazy with anticipation for the full game! June 24th can't come soon enough!

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