REVIEW / Omensight (PS4)

 

Omensight is one of those games I like to refer to as a “mixed bag.” For every point I give the game in regards to its story and fighting mechanics, I take away from it when I look at its frame rate and monotonous structure. By the end of my adventure, I was left wondering if it was worth playing. How did Omensight cause me to feel this way?

 

This game is all about animals killing other animals

 

Omensight can best be described as a “murder mystery mixed with an action/adventure.” During a war between the empire-like Pygarians (a mixture of dogs, a cat general, and a bird emperor) and the rebellion-like Rodentians (a mixture of rats, a bear, and an owl), the Harbinger appears, a female cat/godlike figure who you control. The Harbinger only appears when the world is about to end.

Sure enough, after you wade through an introduction where you communicate with the recently deceased spirits of cat general Draga and resistance fighter bear Ludomir, the demon Voden appears and destroys the world. A witch whisks the Harbinger away before the time of destruction to an otherworldly plane, complete with the mystical Tree of Life. You are informed that the godless-priestess owl Vera was murdered before the day of obliteration under mysterious circumstances, which was the catalyst for the war and Voden’s emergence. It’s up to the Harbinger to return to the past, meet Draga, Ludomir, and others, and get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding Vera’s death.

 

Omensight has good voice acting, though its cutscenes have generic character portraits that aren’t animated

 

The player gets to visit the past through the witch’s magic and replay the day of destruction over and over again (similar to Majora’s Mask three day time limit). Here’s how a day in the past usually goes: you pick a character to go visit while in the Tree of Life hub world (either Draga or Ludomir at first, with two others being added as you start to unravel the mystery), use your Omensight power to show them THE TRUTH (more on this later), and travel with them to various locations while uncovering clues about how Vera died.

As you learn more about the characters and their motivations, you’ll unlock pieces of an investigation board, which helps flesh out the truth about Vera. Each day ends with Voden wrecking the planet and the Harbinger being whisked back to the Tree of Life. Rinse and repeat until the mystery is solved.

 

Be prepared to watch Voden destroy the world at least twenty times

 

I mentioned the power of Omensight before. As the Harbinger, you get access to visions throughout the game. These visions usually involve Vera and her demise. Using the power of Omensight, you can make your companions see the same visions you see. This will motivate them to seek out the characters they feel are responsible for Vera’s death. When you get to the accused, you can even choose to show them the same vision and see how they react, or kill them in cold blood.

You will need to explore both options on different repeated days to fully solve the mystery of Vera (the game wisely gives you the option to skip to the option you didn’t pick when you start the day over), though sometimes going for the “kill” choice makes no sense and just makes everyone think you’re a lunatic. As you progress through Omensight, you’ll see new visions that contradict old ones. This helps the game from feeling too stale, as you can approach your compatriots with these new sights and see them react in a totally different way.

 

Omensight has a unique style that I personally dig

 

The plot of Omensight is mostly good, with a few hiccups. Relationships between characters are fleshed out nicely, and there’s a great story of empowerment with regards to the two ladies, Draga and resistance rat Ratika, who rise up through their respective, male-dominated ranks and become leaders within their factions. As the Harbinger, you must join both sides of the war on different days to finally solve the game’s main riddle; it’s great juxtaposition to see the Harbinger slaughter soldiers one day and then resistance fighters when you repeat the day with a different partner. There are memories you can find of the different characters you meet, hidden away in chests, that add to Omensight‘s lore (these are usually locked behind colored seals you will gain access to by spending time with each of the game’s main characters).

The title even likes to throw curve balls at you; even with the power of Omensight, things are never how they seem at first glance. By the end of the Harbinger’s tale, as you learn the whole truth about why Vera died, you can see the world becoming more and more corrupted by Voden, which I thought was a nice touch. Sadly, it’s possible to miss certain story bits in a single playthrough, with no warning that you missed an important piece of information and no way to go back and follow a thread you accidentally overlooked. The ending is a bit of a mess, too.

 

Draga is my pick for Omensight’s MVP

 

Gameplay-wise, Omensight has both ups and downs. Combat can be fun: the Harbinger has access to some killer moves, and can gain more by spending energy at the Tree of Life. She can also buff her sword, health, and lower the cooldown of her special abilities with crystals she finds in various levels throughout her journey. The Harbinger can slow down time, grab and throw enemies from far away, shoot energy orbs, dash, dodge, and one hit kill baddies. Dodging attacks also helps you gain power to pull off some of the fancier powers. Fighting alongside Draga, Ludomir, or Ratika nets you the ability to call them in for a special attack, as well (though not the fourth partner, sadly). However, combat is also very clunky.

I can’t tell if it is due to design or frame rate, but the Harbinger does not flow smoothly from enemy to enemy, and her attacks seem delayed. It’s very easy to overshoot your jumps. Walking across a thin plank can mean a certain drop to your death due to a camera that doesn’t give you proper depth perception. At two different points, a character got stuck on some scenery, with the second time being during a boss battle that made it impossible to cause him damage. And even though you will come across different levels at different times of day with different party members during the length of Omensight, you still end up fighting the same types of enemies over. And over. And over again.

 

What good is flashy combat if it feels off?

 

Omensight is basically a roller coaster ride. It goes high with its story, the Harbinger has badass moves, it looks pretty, the music is on point, and the voice actors deliver their lines with genuine emotion. But Omensight also goes low: it’s tedious, the slick combat is marred with bad execution, the bits of platforming are weak, and the omission of a New Game + or option to visit any threads you left unexplored is baffling. Though I was satisfied (for the most part) in seeing Omensight through to the end, there were points in my adventure where progressing felt like a chore. And when a game becomes more work than fun, you start to wonder if an interesting concept can excuse shoddy gameplay.

 

 

 

This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.

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