|ONLINE:||N/A (Single Player Only)|
|PLATFORM:||Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC/Steam|
|PUBLISHER:||Spearhead Games - Montreal|
|DEVELOPER:||Spearhead Games - Montreal|
The world is ending. Not exactly words you want to hear – but you hear them quite often in videos games. Usually, though, you have a chance to stop it from happening before it actually does. Not so with Omensight.
The game starts you in the thick of things – nations are at war, and things are looking bleak. Suddenly, during the fighting, a being known only as The Harbinger appears. The name is fitting, as this being is a literal harbinger – a signal that the End of the World™ is upon the warring nations.
Upon first appearing, you don’t really get much time to figure anything out – only that the Godless-Priestess has been murdered for some unknown reason, and that her death is likely related to the coming of Voden.
During these brief first moments, The Harbinger meets with the dying Ludomir and Draga – both killed during the battle leading up to this moment. Upon meeting their dead or dying selves, the Harbinger forms a bond with their souls, allowing her to go back in time to each of their first moments of the day.
This forms the crux of the main story – using this ability to travel back in time, the Harbinger must figure out what leads to the Priestess’ death and ultimately the End of the World™.
I’ll go over this in a bit more detail in the gameplay section, as the story and gameplay are a bit tied together.
Suffice it to say, as you progress through the events, you gain new information that you can then use to influence other events, causing new things to happen and ultimately lead you closer to solving the core murder-mystery.
Much like Spearheads’ previous game, Stories: The Path of Destinies, Omensight runs on the Unreal Engine 4. It makes good use of it too – the visuals are beautiful. Bright, vibrant worlds, strong character designs, lovely particle effects.
Spearhead is certainly talented in the art department. Both Stories and Omensight share a universe – though neither game directly influences the other as far as I can tell. As such, they also share a visual style – though Omensight has certainly benefitted from the team’s work on Stories beforehand.
On the technical side of things – the framerate is buttery smooth at 60 fps for the most part. There are a few minor little hiccups here and there, but nothing that ever hurts the flow of the gameplay.
There is one slightly substantial gripe that I have with the game’s visuals, though. It kind of suffers from a similar problem that Alienation had – when the battles are getting hectic, it can be very easy to lose your character amidst all of the chaos. On top of that, it can also be a little difficult to tell when an enemy is about to attack – the white exclamation point that appears to denote an incoming attack can also get a bit lost in all of the particles.
It’s something that you just have to get used to, and once you do, you’ll be flowing from enemy to enemy without much trouble.
In regards to the exclamation point, it could stand to be a more contrasting color for quality-of-life’s sake. The one used for big attacks coming in is fine, it’s big and bold, bright yellow and bright red – but the white one for smaller, quick attacks gets a bit lost, like I mentioned.
Other than those issues, I love the overall look of the game.
The music, on the other hand, while not horrible by any means, isn’t the most memorable.
Again, I don’t hate the music – in fact, I love it. It works well and serves its purpose to the fullest. It’s just that if I heard it outside of the game, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you it was from Omensight. Not like a game like Shadow of the Colossus, where each theme stands on its own and fits each of the Colossi.
The OST here kind of blends together, with no individual piece really standing out too much (With the exception of Ratika’s song). But like I said, it’s still a great OST and fits the game and the art style perfectly.
Now this, this is my favorite part of the game.
The main core of the gameplay revolves around using The Harbingers ability to travel back in time to gain information regarding the murder of the Godless-Priestess Vera. This is where Spearheads’ previous game, Stories, shines through.
Using a very similar system to that, Omensight opts to tell a much more concise, linear story that doesn’t really branch out too wildly. Whereas Stories had multiple, wildly different endings – there seems to only be one here. And that is perfectly fine, because it means the team gets to focus on telling a more cohesive tale.
As you go about trying to prevent the End of the World™, you gain new information regarding important details – such as locations of important artifacts, or ways to convince other characters to join you.
The most important bits of information that you will receive throughout the course of the game are where the game gets its title from. Omensights are what give you your breakthroughs in the case – and are ultimately what you can use to show characters that you meet what is and has happened. These are the bits of info that can change the path or any given character’s story, much like the “truths” in Stories.
It’s all very Majora’s Mask-like, honestly.
As for the combat side of things – it feels great. Much more refined in comparison to Stories. Leveling is much easier – there’s no more skill tree requiring a ton of grinding, and levels and upgrades are handled with two different currencies.
Leveling with XP will unlock new abilities for the Harbinger – or upgrade those abilities. That’s all XP is used for – increasing the Harbingers level and unlocking/upgrading her core abilities.
In order to upgrade things like attack power, health or defense, you need to spend Amber – which is the currency you get from smashing crates and barrels and opening chests. You get a ton of this pretty much all the time, so getting your stats up is no big grind. By the time I finished my main playthrough, I’d already unlocked most of the upgrades to the max they could be.
Overall, the main combat of the game is your standard action game fare. A mix of light and heavy 3 hit combos, timed dodging, ability usage, etc. If you’ve ever played an action game before, you know what to expect.
Sadly, while the combat does feel great to play – it doesn’t really do anything too unique. You can string different mixes of light and heavy attacks together to get differing results – knockdowns, pushbacks, etc. Upgrading your level will eventually allow you to gain an Arkham Asylum-like ability to earn more energy with well-timed attacks – much like the way critical hits work in the Arkham-like games.
You also gain access to a couple of useful abilities through leveling up – Phantom Dash, Phantom Grasp, Phantom Blast, Delay of Fate and Lethal Slash/Flurry.
None of these abilities are anything you haven’t seen before in a game like this, though. A quick dash, a grab/throw, a charged shot, and area of effect time slow, and a charged slash/multi-enemy targeting teleport slash.
Phantom Dash, Grasp and Delay of Fate can be used at anytime, but they have cooldowns that can be shortened through upgrading. Dash allows you to almost instantly warp to another location on the floor – much further than a basic dodge, and it also deals damage if you happen to dash through an enemy.
Grasp allows you to telekinetically pull in an enemy or environmental object like a vase or explosive barrel, the throw them at other enemies – or to your companion for an instant kill.
Delay of Fate might be the most useful of the 3 core abilities. This is an AoE time slow that brings everything inside of it except for the Harbinger to a near standstill. It might actually be the most unique combat mechanic in the game, as not only are enemies slowed down – your own Phantom Blast projectiles are slowed as well enemies you throw and even barrels/vases that you throw will all be slowed down, allowing you to set up some tricky combos.
The other abilities that you have – Phantom Blast, Lethal Slash and Lethal Flurry – all require varying amounts of energy to perform. You build energy by attacking and dodging without getting hit. Fill up the energy bar, and you’ll get a pip of energy that you can then use to unleash one of these attacks. Phantom Blast requires 1 pip, Lethal Slash requires 2, and Lethal Flurry, 3.
Use that energy quickly, though – as once you stop attacking, your it will begin to slip away. You’ll also lose energy the moment you get hit and your attack flow stops.
All-in-all, though – the combat is fun enough to not be boring. It feels nice and weighty too – and it feels good to hit guys, like an action game should. Even if it’s not the most original combat system out there – it works and is fun.
This is where the game falls a bit short. Due to its much more linear nature, there isn’t too much reason to play through it again other than you want to see what some other choices can lead to or collectible cleanup – there are a few extra paths in areas that you can’t go to early on and have to come back to in later acts, once you have the keys to open those sealed doors. They’re identical to the doors in Stories where you needed specific swords to open them.
To counteract some of the inherent repetition, the game actually allows you to skip parts of a day you’ve already played, jumping you straight into the crucial moment or choice that matters if you want.
Replaying days won’t really offer much new, outside of a few key changes that some choices might have – like choosing to fight someone rather than showing them the Omensight, or vice-versa. Once you’ve seen a choice, making that choice again won’t yield anything new. Be careful, though – as some choices can lock you out of others. Once you have your first Omensight, you can never go back to a time from before you did – and you can miss some moments early on.
In closing – Omensight is a fun, if slightly repetitive time. It uses the mechanics created in Stories to tell a more cohesive story this time.
The core combat is unoriginal, but a blast to actually play. The characters are great – though some of their voice acting is a little iffy in spots. The story being told here manages to hold itself together quite well, and even has a few surprises in store, despite the fact that it is in fact a story that deals in time-travel – which rarely ever works without giving people a massive headache.
Much like Stories before it – the way the main plot changes due to the information you learn and the choices you make helps keep the story moving along and never really feeling bogged down. It feels like what you’re doing actually matters because it does. You are changing things for these characters – revealing secrets that they never knew, and getting them to help you prevent the EndTimes™.
I was really looking forward to this game when it was announced, and I’m glad that my interest was well placed. Omensight may very well be one of my favorite games this year. More than worth the $20 price tag for how well executed everything actually is here.
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