Medium’s have their superficially beautiful creations every few years. You know the kind, the ones which have a wonderful visual aesthetic, characters and score but start to fall apart once you scratch the surface. From Ridley Scott’s Legend to Aliens: Colonial Marines, they vary both in quality and extremes and, unfortunately, Omensight is another of these. While it’s certainly not a bad product, it’s not a very good game either.
Promoting itself as an Action Murder-Mystery game, Omensight sees you playing as a mythical warrior attempting to stop the apocalypse. Using the ability to go over the same short period of time over and over again, your job is to solve the murder of the Godless-Priestess and eventually use your growing abilities to emerge victorious. So, it’s Groundhog Day as directed by Guillermo del Toro.
The idea is an inspired one, and while it has been attempted a few times before, Omensight attempts to put a new spin on things with the chance to return to a hub world after each timeline. From there you can repeat certain sequences, gain abilities and then backtrack to other eras in order to emerge stronger at other points. There are multiple opportunities to interact with characters differently, use abilities to alter events or approach instances in certain ways.
The story itself is a strong one, and it’s one of the few releases where you really can keep trying only to see new results emerge from your actions. The fact that this comes hand in hand with a strong and well written ensemble of characters only encourages you to see events through to the end, even after multiple failures. While it can be repetitive, the moments where you keep asking “Well, what if I do this?” is enough to keep you coming back. Visually the game is quite spectacular atop of this, utilising a mixture of semi-cel shaded visuals and Zelda style aesthetics to give the world life.
Yet, as with a few high tier indie releases, the problem once again lies in the core mechanics. The story is brilliantly executed, but the mechanical choices and design elements leave something to be desired. It’s an issue which is especially evident with a number of obtuse choices, or lack of what should be an obvious asset to the player. For example, there’s no option to quickly quit the day you are on and return to the hub area should you make a mistake. If you screw up early on, you simply need to go through with it until you can start over once again. The problem itself is only further exaggerated by the fact that the story progression is often artificially gated off, leaving you little room to go back, and you can find yourself easily missing things in a simple effort to press the narrative forward.
The mechanical blind spots of the time travelling mechanic would be problematic enough, but the combat also leaves something to be desired. While fast, fluidly executed and requiring more skill than the typical Arkham Asylum fighting system, you can easily get yourself stuck in odd places. Dodging at the wrong point can make you end up trapped behind scenery or even between two static objects, often forcing you to restart entirely. This happens more than you might think thanks to a few awkward camera placements.
There is no denying that Omensight is a truly beautiful game and its ideas justify a purchase, but behind the aesthetic choices, it has the depth of a puddle. As such, if you can stomach such limitations in the name of a good story then give it a look, but if you desire something more substantial then wait until this goes on sale.
OMENSIGHT / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: SPEARHEAD GAMES / PLATFORM: PC, PLAYSTATION 4 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW