Developer: Spearhead Games Publisher: Spearhead Games Platform(s): PS4, PC Review copy provided
If you had the power to go back in time to try and prevent a global catastrophe, what would you do? How would you go about stopping this annihilation? That’s the premise put forward by Omensight, and it’s a bloody good one too. You play as The Harbinger, a mystical being who, according to prophecy, returns to the world of Urralia as it’s on the cusp of armageddon. Sure enough, you spend about two minutes in the world before the great demon Voden appears and wipes out most of existence immediately.
Luckily, you’re saved by a witch, and transported to a safe location. The witch tells you that Voden’s appearance seems to be linked to the sudden and brutal murder of the Godless-Priestess Vera. She also tells you that you can go back in time to the final day and investigate some of the key figures who might have played a part in Urralia’s eventual collapse.
From that point forward, you’ll spend the entirety of the game reliving the last day of Urralia following one of four characters around, trying to determine who murdered Vera. There’s Indrik and Ratika, the leaders of two opposing factions at war, whose conflict appears to be driving the world towards the brink of destruction. There’s also Draga, Indrik’s trusted general, and Ludomir, a local drunk hellbent on vengeance against Indrik.
As you spend the day with each character, you’ll begin to learn more about the greater mystery at play, or unlock the ability to access new areas of a level. Omensight then takes on a sort of time travelling implementation of the Metroidvania style of gameplay, as you can revisit certain characters with new information and abilities.
That comes into play in a big way once you unlock the game’s titular Omensights, which are big breakthroughs in your investigation. Showing a character an Omensight drastically alters the events of the day, with battles and objectives being completely changed. In turn, that then reveals even more information and abilities.
Despite the fact you’re engaging in an Edge of Tomorrow time-jumping mechanic, the different perspectives and how you can manipulate the different events help keep things fresh, even if you do play the same levels a few times during the course of the game. At the very least, treasure chests respawn on each day, so you can always just use the additional runs to farm cash and EXP.
Wisely though, the developers left an option in the game to skip to critical decisions if you’re replaying the same day under the same conditions, which is useful during the moments where you have to take an opposing side during boss fights. Certain characters will only give up information if they trust you, but giving your Omensight to another character will squander that. Who knew that the citizens of Urralia were so jealous?
The way in which the narrative unravels as you play keeps the story interesting. The drip-feeding of information that occurs from day to day ensures you’re always learning more about the world and its characters. Though the culprit of Vera’s murder is somewhat predictable, there’s plenty of twists along the way to keep you guessing. There’s also a brilliant ending that we won’t spoil here. Perhaps a separate article is in order.
The gameplay itself plays out like a 3D fixed camera action game. Think along the lines of the old school Devil May Cry games, except a lot more simplistic. When you start out, you only have access to a light attack, a strong attack and a dodge, but the more you play, the more moves you unlock and the more devastating you are in combat.
It’s not long before you’re given access to abilities like slowing down time, fireballs or the ability to just grab someone and fling them around the environment. Fights do contain hidden depth in relation to how you choose to interact with both your environment and your companion.
For example, when partnered with the brutish Ludomir, his ground pound ability can be used to smash huge pillars, bringing them down on your foes. Alternatively, you could lob some enemies in his direction to perform a co-op kill, both of which earn valuable cash and EXP used to level up the Harbinger. There are more hidden rewards like this available for performing certain actions in a fight, which helps prevent the combat from devolving into mind numbing, button mashing tedium by offering an incentive to spice things up
What’s less impressive is the in-game camera, which often finds itself behind different objects in the environment or, worse still, failing to capture the entire fight on a single screen. Those co-op kills we mentioned are usually accomplished by launching an enemy towards an off-screen icon, which often leads to you missing or not being able to see an obstacle between you.
This problem is compounded during certain boss fights, where additional enemies and projectiles are cluttering the screen and it’s difficult to get a bead on everything that’s going on at one time. It’s hard not to feel cheated when you’re killed by an energy blast that came from off-screen, or when you’re given little time to react to an enemy who has lept from outside the boundaries of perceived existence.
Cumbersome camera aside, there’s a lot to love about Omensight. The story is engaging and keeps you interested until the credits start rolling, and the gameplay is entertaining, rewarding creativity over repetitive button bashing. The combat might not be as deep as other action games on the market, but it’s the narrative that’ll have you coming back for more.
Omensight is out now on PS4 and PC. Will you be picking it up, or are you still trying to drag yourself away from God of War? Sound off in the comments.
Glossing over the irony of including “sight” in the name when the camera is sub-standard, Omensight offers both an absorbing murder mystery and enjoyable gameplay. Definitely worth checking out.