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Developer(s): Spearhead Games
Publisher(s): Spearhead Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 and PC
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Pro
Release Date(s): May 15th, 2018
The end of the world is nigh and it is up to the chosen savior to deliver us from our fate. Sound familiar? It’s only the premise of countless games, books, movies and TV shows. How about if we add in the wrinkle that the savior has only a single day to save the world, otherwise everything goes up in flames? Such is the setting for the story-driven, pedal-to-the-metal action RPG Omensight and it serves both as the title’s greatest strength and its biggest weakness.
Omensight takes place on the continent of Urralia where two nations of anthropomorphic animals, Pygaria and Rodentia, have warred with each other for decades. You control The Harbinger, a mythical being that is said to appear when the world is in danger of annihilation, and danger it certainly is in. It’s during these turbulent times that the influential figure, The Godless Priestess Vera, is murdered and her soul sealed away. This is the catalyst that summons forth the void creature Voden that wroughts destruction upon the land.
The key to averting this catastrophe is in unraveling the circumstances behind Vera’s murder and locating where her trapped soul is. As The Harbinger, you are brought into the world’s final day, and that single day is all you have to find the answers you seek. Fortunately, The Harbinger exists outside the standard concept of space and time and has the power to repeat the day’s events as many times as she needs to get to the bottom of the murder.
Omensight’s gameplay revolves around repeating Urralia’s final day over and over again, pursuing different lines of clues and investigations every time. You will choose between one of four colorful companions to start the day with, each with his or her own national allegiance and connection to the late Godless Priestess. They will lead you to different locations and open up different paths to explore in the world to aid in your mission. When the day ends, so too does the world, sending The Harbinger back to The Tree of Life to review any new information learned before beginning the cycle anew.
The core mystery is a gripping one, with revelations that shake things up being unveiled at a fairly quick pace, and while the narrative does rely on some tried and true detective tropes at times, such as a character being cut off just before getting to important information, it’s never too intrusive or obnoxious. The sheer amount of dialogue is impressive and despite the looping nature of the story, there is hardly a repeated line to be found. The dialogue is backed by superb voice acting that pulls you into the moment to moment happenings.
One character who isn’t voiced, however, is The Harbinger herself for she is actually a silent protagonist; a bold, almost suicidal move for an investigative story such as this. Since she does not speak, The Harbinger makes decisions through her actions rather than her words and this is where the titular “Omensight” mechanic comes into play.
When The Harbinger arrives at key locations during her investigation she may witness a vision of an event that occurred there in the past. She can then share these “Omensights” with others in the world. This can be used for either gaining someone’s trust or as undeniable evidence to force a suspect to elaborate on the event. Choosing when to use “Omensight” and when to use brute force constitutes most of The Harbinger’s decision making.
While these branching moments are important, they aren’t necessarily high stakes since if you are unsatisfied with the outcome, the game makes it easy to skip to that point in the day on the next cycle to try the road not taken. This does eliminate any sort of weight these decisions could carry, but even making the “wrong” decision often leads to circumstantial information that will still prove useful in piecing the puzzle together.
Getting to the points where these decisions are made is part of The Harbinger’s investigation as well, though, and there will be plenty of enemies in the way that will need a little physical persuasion to get past.
Your companions will lead you throughout various parts of Urralia during your adventures, such as a prison or a battlefield in a forest. The cell-shaded graphics make these environments and their inhabitants pop along with some dazzling lighting effects that vary with the time of day.
Stages are largely linear on the whole but there is the occasional hidden path behind cracked walls and such to find for the attentive player. These hidden areas often house chests full of amber used for upgrading The Harbinger’s abilities as well as Memories. Since the game proper strictly takes place during the end of days, these Memories offer a glimpse into what Urralia was like before the crisis and often paint a surprisingly dark picture of the war-torn continent despite its bright and vibrant art style.
During exploration, your companions will comment on their own thoughts on the situation and often provide valuable information. It’s this constant flow of new information and often witty banter that helps alleviate the looping nature of the game, but it only goes so far. While different companions will lead you down a different path here and there, you are for the most part retreading common ground over and over again. By the third or fourth time revisiting the same location, repetition does begin to set in, especially when every secret around every corner has been stripped clean.
When combat becomes unavoidable the ethereal savior is lithe and agile and her attacks have a grace to them reminiscent of a ballet. Enemies that bar your path can be dispatched with The Harbinger’s blade by utilizing a flurry of light and heavy attacks, different combinations of which result in various finishers with varying effects. Also at her disposal is the ability to slow down time for those around her, grab objects and enemies from a distance, and a ranged energy shot. Utilizing these abilities in creative ways, such as firing off multiple energy shots while inside the stasis field to have them all kick off at once when the effect expires, is not only immensely satisfying but also rewarding as The Harbinger will gain extra experience points for doing so.
Unfortunately, the stale repetition and exploration of this game end up carrying over into its enemy variety as well. Pygarian and Rodentian soldiers have the same grunt, commander, spell caster type enemies that fight the same way. Void spawn Ciphers shake things up a little bit with flying and brute type enemies, but they are dispatched or more or less in the same manner.
This carries over to boss fights as well, as you will find yourself fighting the same big baddy multiple times during the campaign with no change in mechanics. This includes the inflexible camera angles that sometimes works against the player, especially when the boss is off-screen
Omensight is an all killer, no filler kind of game. There is a constant sense of urgency that drives the experience forward and this is true despite its repetitive nature. Although the combat and exploration suffer from the game’s identity it’s the story that really propels the title forward. While the appeal of the looping narrative begins to wear thin the game does come to its conclusion before it can overstay its welcome. Omensight is a jam-packed, ten or so hour-long adventure that leaves you pleasantly fulfilled by the end.
Omensight has a lot going for it. The central murder mystery is genuinely captivating and the combat has a fluidity that just feels damn good. An eye-catching world is populated by equally colorful and memorable characters. To its credit, Omensight manages to somewhat avoid the repetition associated with looping narratives but not completely, and it's that fault that brings the entire experience just ever so lower.
Heralding from the rustic, old town of Los Angeles, California; Matthew now resides in Boston where he diligently researches the cure for cancer. In reality, though, he just wants to play games and watch anime, and likes talking about them way too much. A Nintendo/Sony hybrid fan with a soft-spot for RPG’s, he finds little beats sinking hours into an immersive game world. You can follow more of his work at his blog and budding YouTube channel below.
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