Review: Omikron – The Nomad Soul / Developer: Quantic Dream / Publisher: Eidos Interactive / Platform: PC Game / Release Date: Out Now
If you’ve heard of this one at all, it’s likely due to the later successes of its creator, David Cage. Having been released in 1999 on the Dreamcast and with cancelled ports to Playstation and Playstation 2, it’s not as well-known as it should be. But why should you have it on your radar? Because it takes a borderline insane approach to mashing together the gameplay of multiple genres and just about manages to make it work.
The story here is as near-crazy as you’d expect from Cage. Fourth wall? There isn’t one. You, as in you the person behind the screen, are possessing the body of police officer Kay’l in a dystopian cyberpunk universe. Having been on the run from corrupt officials and with a deep dark mystery to solve, Kay’l openly enlists your help. However, nothing is quite what it seems in Omikron and there's more to worry about than just the rampant corruption of the city.
Omikron has three main attractions: the investigation, the environments, and David Bowie. Resembling something out of Marvel 2099 or mid '90s comic books, the city has all the sci-fi brilliance of its era along with a plot which fully embraces its setting – ludicrous enough to keep you excited, but immersive enough to keep you going. As well as a few inventive ways of dealing with situations, the puzzle-solving and adventure elements are well thought out leading to some great investigative moments. It’s not every adventure game which gives you the option to just drug your boss or bribe them in order to get past certain barriers. Furthermore when the plot twist hits, it comes at exactly the right time and is built upon extremely well.
Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad, namely the combat. While good for breaking up the slow pacing of the investigation, the FPS elements of gunning mooks down and beating more powerful mooks up Tekken-style is far from perfect. The former especially is lacking even in comparison to the likes of Goldeneye, a problem given how prominent it becomes in later stages. These sequences are serviceable, but not much more and the game fails to merge the different styles together as well as the Riddick titles did years later.
Ultimately, Omikron is definitely a flawed gem but a gem nonetheless. Even taking into account the dated graphics and various other issues, those with the right mindset will find fun among the city’s streets. Come for the adventure gameplay, stick through the combat elements, stay for the story. Omikron: The Nomad Soul can be found on GOG.com and now Steam.