Omensight is an interesting mix of a murder mystery game and Groundhog Day. Developed by Spearhead Games, Omensight can best be described as an action/mystery game, mixing both solid character action gameplay and time reversal system reminiscent of the classic Majora’s Mask. This, along with a strong story and great presentation, come together to make a great experience.
Omensight is available on PlayStation 4 and Steam for $19.99
One of the strongest points of Omensight is its story. The setting is Urallia, a world filled with clans of anthropomorphic animals, such as the Bird clan and the Rodent clan. The land is in the middle of a war between the Rodention clans and the Pygarian Empire. To make matters worse, the Godless Priestess, a neutral individual respected by both sides, has been murdered.
The player takes on the role of the Harbinger, a mystical being who is said to appear at the end of the world. Unfortunately, it would appear that she has appeared too late. The Pygarian Emperor Indrik has disappeared right before the last major battle, the warriors Ludomir and general Draga have fallen, and the Rodentian leader Ratika has been possessed by the entity Deathless. Just when it seems like things can’t get any worse, the ground erupts as the great serpent Voden escapes the void, ushering in doomsday.
Before the Harbinger is destroyed, she is transported to the Tree of life by its caretaker, a supernatural being known as the Witch. There, she informs the Harbinger that Voden is too powerful to defeat, and even if he was most of the world is already gone. She also tells the player that the murdered Godless Priestess, Vera, was crucial to keeping the serpent imprisoned. Her soul is meant to return to the tree and reincarnate after her death, but for some reason, it has been trapped somewhere. It would appear that the return of Voden was planned, and it’s up to the Harbinger to stop it.
In order to do this, the player will have to travel back in time to the final day of the world, using the souls of certain individuals who died that day to do so. She must go back and try to figure out who killed the priestess, why they did it, and most importantly, where her soul has gone. To do this she will join up with the likes of the warrior Ludomir and the Pygarian general Draga in order to try and discover the mysteries surrounding the end of the world.
The story of Omensight revolves heavily around the companions you team up with throughout the game. Each character has their good side and their bad side, and as you accompany them you learn more about them and how they are related to each other. Dialogue for the characters is consistent and well written, often times giving a clear idea of what their personalities and motives are. As you get closer and closer to the truth you get to see the characters grow to a certain degree, and in some cases, they end up with closure on the issues revolving around them.
In addition, the world building of the game is also done very well, while not being overbearing in its exposition. The only things that are directly given to you are related to the main plot, while background information for the characters and world is given through optional information that can be collected throughout the game. This background info is also well written, though if I had one complaint it would be that the text is a bit small, making it more difficult to read on a television screen.
The limited maps the game uses are also used well for the narrative. Different characters will have different things to say about the places you visit, as well as taking the player along different routes. One great example of this was in an early level where you see graffiti mocking the emperor. The companion you’re with comments on how rude some of the language is. Much later in the game, you end up coming back to the graffiti with the emperor himself, where he comments on it. It’s a small thing, but it’s a nice touch that adds to the characterization of your companions.
That’s not to say there aren’t any problems with the game's story. For one thing, there is a character that is part of a fairly big twist at midway through the game. The reveal seems like it’s meant to be a surprise, but the fact that he’s one of the only characters with a unique model kind of gives spoils it a bit. In addition, while the game seems to be building up to everyone coming together to help save the world, the ending drops the ball, not really capitalizing on the personal growth you witness characters go through as you play. This is topped off by an ending that is shockingly depressing, especially with the tone the game has built up to that point.
Omensight combines both character action gameplay with RPG and investigation mechanics. There is also a use of Metroidvania and puzzle elements. These come together to provide an experience that is a more than fair challenge, and more importantly an enjoyable one. One thing I definitely want to point out is that the game gives you an option at the start of how you would prefer to play. You can go for a more story-based experience, or go for a more gameplay focused challenge. I myself went for the balanced mix of the two, but it’s nice to see that they give players the option.
The core gameplay revolves around combat. At the start of the game, the player is given access to a light and heavy attack, as well as a dodge roll. Essentially, combat revolves around attacking enemies while making sure to dodge and counter when they attempt to hit back. As you gain experience and level the Harbinger up, you’ll gain new abilities, such as a grab and a dash, all of which can be combined together to create more and more stylish combos. The fancier you get, the more experience you gain.
Combat is well done, taking a simple base and building upon it. Enemy attacks, while telegraphed, are still fast enough to be a challenge, especially in groups. Hitting enemies gives nice feedback, always feeling impactful, especially at the end of combos. The game's difficulty progresses at a nice, smooth curve, usually providing a challenge without being unbearably hard.
One area where I feel the combat falls a bit short is the boss battles. The fights usually consist of hitting the boss and running away. Most of the time these battles will devolve into a DPS, (Damage Per Second) race of sorts, and in most case, you’ll win. There aren’t a ton of boss fights, but the ones that are there are fairly lackluster.
Another issue I have with the combat is at the very end of the game. Like many games, Omensight has the issue of giving you an extremely powerful weapon at the end that you only get to use once. In this case, the weapon you get one-shots all but the toughest enemies, making the amount of time you’ve spent upgrading your equipment seem wasted. Again, Omensight isn’t the only game to be guilty of this, but that certainly doesn’t excuse what is generally, in my opinion, a poor design choice.
In addition to being an action game, Omensight also qualifies as a murder mystery game. As you travel back in time and unlock new companions, you gain more and more information. As you learn new things and clarify older info, you come closer and closer to the truth of the situation. One of the main bits of information you collect is the titular omensights, which act as a window into the memories of the priestess Vera. The harbinger is able to share these visions with her companions, influencing their choices. As you continue to gather the information you begin to form a timeline of the events surrounding the murder.
Alongside its combat and investigation mechanics, Omensight also has some minor platforming and Metroidvania elements. The former of these two is done well enough. The player has a double jump, and companions will often give you a boost to certain areas. Having a fairly noticeable shadow underneath the player character is nice, as it helps the player judge where they will land. The Metroidvania elements are limited to unlocking seals that can be used to unlock new paths throughout the levels. These seals are essential to finding new information, as well as accessing bonus areas.
Omensight also utilizes common RPG mechanics, primarily that of leveling up your character and upgrading your equipment. The way you upgrade these is through experience and amber, respectively. Experience is gained from defeating enemies and performing combos, as well as some bonus points based on your performance at the end of the day. Amber is usually collected by opening up chests and breaking vases and barrels throughout the level. A nice touch is that upgrading weapons and armor actually changes your characters look. The one thing I have a problem within this system is the bonus experience at the end of the day. Two of the main bonuses you can gain, which is unlocking a new seal and a new omensight, are incredibly limited, and as such it often makes seems like you performed poorly in the level.
The player will travel back to the beginning of the day, usually split into 3 different sections. The dawn, which acts as the introduction to the character, midday, which is usually the main level, and nighttime, which usually leads to the critical moment of that timeline. A nice feature the game provides is being able to transport to right before the critical moment of a timeline after you have gone through it once. While you do lose some the opportunity for experience and amber when doing this, it’s still very convenient to have.
As you play you will accompany different companions throughout the world, helping them accomplish their goals. The companions are unlocked by connecting with their soul after finding their corpse, (or, in some cases, making them a corpse). Companions will assist you in battle, help you reach platforms too high to reach normally, and guide you through different areas. Companions will also have a special ability to assist the player, such as giving them a buff or an AoE, (Area of Effect) attack. Companions don’t have a health bar, so, fortunately, you don’t have to wind up babysitting them throughout the game. They also help just enough to be a benefit without trivializing the combat. As you unlock companions you will also be able to follow their progress throughout the day, helping you put together what’s happening. The only issue I had with them was that very rarely one of them would get stuck on level geometry, but this happened so sparingly it was barely noticeable.
Omensight actually has very few levels, four in total, (technically five, but the last one is literally one room where characters just talk). The way the game gets around this is by having the player take different routes and showing up at different times of the day. Sometimes you’ll show up right before a huge battle breaks out, or even as it’s happening. Depending on the circumstances in which you show up, several different paths can wind up opening up. It may not seem like much, but it’s at least enough for the player to not notice that they're going through the same level again and again.
Enemies will usually be determined by your companions, though as you go through the day it can change. The three factions you face against will be Pygarian soldiers, Rodentian soldiers, and Ciphers, fish-like creatures from the void. Each group has its basic light enemies, while also having their own unique mobs. For example, Pygarians have a spell caster that summons a ring of fire underneath the player. The more of these casters present, the larger the AoE, therefore making it harder to dodge. All factions have enemies who interrupt your combo to attack, and enemies with some limited form of ranged attack. Overall there’s a decent amount of variety in the enemies, though you will probably go through most of them by the second act of the game.
Graphics and Sound
Omensight has a beautiful, highly stylized cell shaded art style. While the amount of environments available is limited, Omensight makes the best of it by having the player explore different areas and arriving at different times of the day. Probably the most noticeable example of the latter is the area called the crimson forest. The different uses of color make all the difference, making some areas almost unrecognizable.
Characters are designed well, seemingly styled in the vein of high fantasy. Rodentians look like your standard ragtag resistance, and Pygarian troops look fairly menacing. Color is used fairly well to separate them, with Ciphers often having purple be prominent in their design, and gold for the Pygarians. The only issue I have is that a character with a unique design stands out to the point of ruining the surprise they’re involved within later in the game.
Sound wise the game is amazing, having an epic score that matches the Norse themes it has in its story. Battles are made more intense, while the rare moment of calm becomes a thing of beauty. Sound design within the combat is great, giving a nice meaty noise when slicing through enemies or breaking objects. Often times you can hear fighting in the background of some levels, helping make the world feel more alive.
Voice acting is also a strong point for the game. While dialogue from basic enemies and such is limited, it’s still well done, while your companions all have their own unique comments on the things happening around you. Characters will react to your actions, such as rolling around randomly or trying to attack them. It helps immerse the player even more into the world. The dialogue manages to switch from both serious to the more comedic, handling both well and with proper timing. Special mention to whoever does the singing for Ratika, as they have a beautiful voice.
Omensight stands out as a great game, successfully merging action and murder mystery gameplay into one. Great voice acting, music, gameplay and art style all come together in a way that easily could have fallen apart in someone else’s hands, but the fine folk at Spearhead Games managed to create quite the gem with this one. While the story may fall a bit short at the end, the overall experience will draw players in and keep them playing. For me, Omensight is a definite recommendation for anyone, be they fans of character action or mysteries.
|+ Great gameplay||– Lackluster boss fights|
|+ Amazing soundtrack||– Disappointing story ending|
|+ Beautiful art style|
|+ Good voice acting|