Game Review: Omensight
First thing first, if you haven't read my official review of Omensight over at dlh.net, click here to check it out!
Now, that said, let me give my extended review of Omensight.
Omensight tries to do something new and kind of neat. It's a murder mystery wrapped in a hack n' slash platformer. That means you mostly go around beating up villains and jumping from place to place, but it's all in service of solving a mystery. Here' s the big quirk, though: you get to repeat the same day over and over again, like a video game version of Groundhog's Day. Here's the rundown.
You are the Harbinger, a sort of ethereal warrior spirit that is summoned to prevent the end of the world. You, however, were summoned far too late, for whatever reason. A dark spirit is threatening to devour the entire world and as you step into your first day, you have no chance of winning. You encounter two souls, one dead, the other dying, and are able to form a bond with them. But right after that, the world ends.
Fortunately a strange witch pulls you away to a secret garden where the Tree of Life resides. With her help and it's power, you can relive the last day of anyone you've bonded with. So right off the bat, you have two people you can follow. But, you don't just follow willy-nilly, no. The witch has informed you that the Godless-Priestess should have been able to stop the end of the world, but someone murdered her. Your goal: follow these souls through their day, assist them, direct them, fight with them, and solve the mystery of the Godless-Priestess' murder.
To this end you are given an investigation board which fills in as you learn more.
The combat is fun, though the camera is a little annoying. You have almost no control over it, save for token nudges to the left or right. This isn't usually a problem, but the occasional fireball from offscreen or misjudged jump can interrupt your fun. Fortunately, the game includes a noticeable shadow for the Harbinger to help with the platforming. Along with this, you'll gain experience at the end of every day which can be used to increase your abilities and even the abilities of the comrades.
Let's go over what I like about the game. The combat is actually pretty fun. I love getting new abilities and learning to incorporate them into my attacks. Some of the abilities are real game changers and mastering them makes you feel like a total badass.
The music is absolutely gorgeous. Most especially Ratika's song, which I haven't found an official version of, so I can only refer to it as "Mouse in a Cage." It is beautiful, enchanting, and feels perfect for the setting. I'm still singing "a cage is a cage" to myself.
Next, the characters. Oh my god, the characters in this game are SO good. I love their looks, their personalities, and their actors. I get attached to them. I'm just sad that the Harbinger is completely silent, so she doesn't really further anyone's backstory. You have three main ones, plus one that's sort of a surprise... so I won't mention that one. But trust me, you'll see it coming a mile away.
You've got Ratika, the mouse bard, Draga, the warrior cat, and Ludomir, the drunk bear. Okay, he's really strong, but he gets drunk and everyone knows it. They're all enjoyable characters with rich stories that you can unlock through memory shards and by altering their days. How do you do that? Very simple... Omensights.
Along your path through the game days, you'll occasionally learn how to unlock seals. Once you know how to unlock them, you can go back to days you've been through and change things by unlocking hidden rooms or alternate paths. Sometimes these lead to Omensights. That's when the Harbinger enters a place where something important happened. The Harbinger will see the event play out and now have new information that they can share with characters... and that's where we get to my least favorite parts.
Now once you have these Omensights, you can show them to the characters. Did I say can? Sorry, I meant you MUST show them to the characters. This is where the biggest problem comes.
See, I like the story. It's pretty good, even if the mystery aspect slowly melts away as you go. By the end of the game, you're not really solving anything anymore, just punching the next set of villains (who change depending on which side of the war you follow) to get to the next reveal. There's no chance of accusing an innocent or losing a trail. You just have to keep going until the game reveals the next part. And this is part of what plays into that big problem.
I want more of the story. But if I grab an Omensight, I HAVE to use it. So if I haven't played a character's day through without showing them the Omensight, I lose access to everything that day could've given me. Treasure. Plot. Memory shards. It's all gone. Ratika, one of my favorite characters, was the victim of this in my first playthrough. She decides, for whatever reason, to become a dark entity of evil power. You see it during other characters' days and even get to fight her. But since I got the first Omensight before I tried out her day, I never got to play her unaltered day. So I never got to figure out WHY she was a dark creature of evil. When you show her the Omensight, she doesn't go down that path. She stays normal Ratika the whole way. I go play another person's day, BOOM! Dark Ratika. No way to change which Omensight I show, no way to recover the plot and treasures I'm locked out from.
This game does a lot right. It's fun to play, but it punishes you for playing it in the wrong order. That's a simple mistake that shouldn't have made it into the game. Furthermore, the ending... is very disappointing. Disappointing enough that I assumed I had done something wrong. I played and replayed, scoured online sources, and no... the game only has the one ending. It's dark, it's miserable, and it's a little heartbreaking. I don't say this to spoil the plot, just to warn you. When you finish, no, you didn't do anything wrong. That's really how it ends.
I do recommend this game. There's a lot of room for improvement, but if you have the spare cash or it goes on sale, please consider it. Not for what the game is, but to support the people who put together such a beautiful world. There's so much hinted at that needs to be expanded on and I think it would be a shame if the studio, who has done another game in this world, stopped here.
It tries something new. I went out on a limb to push the limits of what the genre usually does. It's beautiful. It's intriguing. But it's still too restrictive for what it's trying to do. I'll let Ratika take it from here.
Be Excellent to Each Other.
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