Platforms: PC, PS4
Reviewed On: PC
Developer: Spearhead Games
Publisher: Spearhead games
Review code provided free of charge by the publisher.
I was just idly sitting around, browsing through games when I came across Omensight. It’s a relatively quiet period for games at the moment, so I decided to fire across a code request despite knowing nothing about the game. Boy, am I glad I did. Omensight turned out to be more than worth my time, and hopefully at the end of this review you might just think it’s worth your time, too.
Omensight’s story takes place in an intriguing world populated by taking animals currently caught up in a war. As the entity known as the Harbinger you have been summoned by a strange Witch to solve the mystery behind the murder of a priestess which somehow brings about the end of the world at the hands of something known only as The Void. To save the world you’ll need to travel back in time in order to replay the twenty-four hours leading up to the planet’s destruction, each time choosing one of the main characters to tag along with who will hopefully help you piece together the mystery of the Priestess and her death.
However, in order to change how the day plays out you’ll need to unlock two things; the ability to open several types of seal in order to access different areas, and Omensights, which are visions/memories of events that can be shown to characters who will in turn accept these visions as gospel truth. You might start the day with the plucky Ratika, leader of the Rodentian nation, and discover some new information so that when you next go back to Ratika and confront her with her deep secret she is compelled to go somewhere else and reveal something else important to you.
Therein lies Omensight’s narrative structure. If, a bit like me, you were hoping for an intriguing mystery that you had to figure out by paying attention to the clues and to new information all while working on a time limit – which the game somewhat implies via frequent mentioning of the Tree providing the power to transport you through time dying – then prepare for a bit of disappointment. However, said disappointment will be short lived because while the game is actually quite linear it still weaves a fun tale of adventure and betrayal, using its time-travelling gimmick to slowly build its plot and characters. Sure, that means having to sit through some of the same dialogue, but the developers are careful to make sure nothing is repeated too much and that the payoff is always worthwhile.Critically, the story is always comprehensible, a difficult task when time travel is involved.
Of course, this would all be much easier if the Harbinger could talk, but Omensight’s story, as good as it is, does rely on a lot of convenience. The fact that Omesight visions show only a tiny sliver of an event and that the Harbinger cannot speak gives the writers a lot more freedom to create their dramatic moments and to have characters only get small pieces of the story when it’s convenient. In fact, the rules surrounding Omensight seem a little vague as there were a few moments when characters implied that the vision showed them a lot more than the couple of seconds you see. Other times they only seemed to see a few seconds. Hmm.
Not only is the tale itself compelling but so are the characters who you get to watch change as you learn new things. There is Ludomoir, the slightly dim bear with a massive heart and a penchant for a punch-up; Indrik, the arrogant emperor who is more than he appears; Draga, the right-hand of Indrik who is compassionate, loyal and analytical, and Ratika, the minstrel mouse who never stops talking. The voice acting can be ropey in places, but these characters and their actors win you over.
The one downside to this time-travelling shennanigans is that there are a handful of locations that you’ll visit throughout the game, and while there are variations of the area due to taking a slightly different path there was a little too much repeating for my tastes. After a while I began to wish for new places to see. With that said, I can understand the reason for keeping the game more tightly focused on just a few areas, especially as it lets the developers highlight the visual changes that occur later.
However, combating the repetition issue is how damn lovely Omensight is to look at. This is clearly a game made on a relatively small budget, so smartly the boys and girls at Spearhead decided to put the focus on the art design instead and man, oh man did they succeed! Awash in color, this is a fascinating world full of talking animals that are not adverse to unleashing the occasional foul word, and it all feels so distinctly designed.
There’s some really lovely music, too. It doesn’t overpower or distract from what’s going on and therefore isn’t memorable as such, but it does a terrific job of enhancing the overall presentation.
So far we’ve talked a lot about the story and characters, but how does it play? The Harbinger is no slouch when it comes to slicing and dicing foes, and that’s what you’ll spend most of your time doing between light platforming sections where you jump from platform to platform. At your disposal is a simple light attack, a heavy attack and the ability to dodge enemy blows which get telegraphed via exclamation marks. While there are some basic combos you can unleash and a few enemy types that force you to switch up your assault a little this is a basic combat system that nonetheless works because of its simplicity. The key is how smooth and responsive it feels, especially the dodge which cancels you out of almost any animation, although you can’t spam it because three dodges in a row will leave you stunned for a few important seconds.
You do get some extra spice thrown into the mix thanks to special powers that can be unlocked by levelling up the Harbinger. The very first cool power you get is to drop a time bubble which slows everything inside except you, which can be combined brilliantly with other skills such as Phantom Grasp that lets you grab explosive barrels and hurl them, or even grab enemies and toss them off cliffs or into your ally.
And for some extra, extra spice you can unleash a few different attacks using energy you gain during combat, energy which can’t be kept between fights. For example, one energy lets you use a ranged attack, while two energy can be spent to instantly kill a single foe.
It all comes together really nicely, feeling slick and responsive. But there are two flaws to mention; the first is that in the more chaotic fights the exclamation marks which indicate an incoming attack easily get lost amidst the mayhem, and the second issue is that combat can become a little tiresome after a while, despite how satisfying it can be. The game is quite short, though, clocking in at somewhere around 6-8 hours, so that does mean that fighting never completely outstays its welcome. Had the game run longer a few more elements would need to have been introduced into the fighting to keep me interested.
Don’t you just love it when a game turns up out of the blue and surprises you? Because I do, and Omensight is very much one of those game’s. I went in knowing nothing about the game and came out the other side with a grin on my face. I loved the characters, the world and their story, and the slick combat was simply the icing on the cake.