Review: Omensight (PS4)

Spearhead Games is back with another adventure title after the supposedly decent success of the studio’s last game, Stories: The Path of Destinies. The developer’s second attempt is Omensight, which already has its predecessor beaten on the name alone.

Omensight has a lot in common with Stories, but it feels like an evolution in almost every way. This is once again an action-based journey that leans heavily on player choice, with your decisions determining the outcome of various scenarios.

You play as the Harbinger, a sort of celestial figure who’s tasked with preventing the apocalypse. In order to do so, you’ll have to team up with several colourful characters, each of whom play an important role in bringing about the end of the world. By witnessing their actions and compiling the information that they present to you, you steadily gain insight into how the apocalypse comes about — and why.

The twist is that you only have a single in-game day to fulfil your duty, which means that you’ll be replaying the same day over and over until you uncover the truth. Every time that the world ends, you’re teleported back to a hub that seems to exist in a sort of limbo, and from here, you choose how to begin your investigation anew.

It’s a very intriguing concept, and the good news is that the game pulls it all off with aplomb. By tagging along with different characters or taking alternate paths through environments, events change and bit by bit, you piece together a fresh perspective. Through interacting with the cast on a personal level, you alter the overall plot.

And the overall plot’s got quite a few twists and turns of its own. The gist of it is that there’s a war going on between two factions, and leaders from both sides are willing to do anything to achieve victory. Naturally, this involves turning to forbidden magic and ancient powers that aren’t meant to be awakened, so you start to see why a giant, shadowy serpent feels like it’s time to devour the world.

It’s all a little cliche, but the way in which the story unravels is really the selling point here. Uncovering a new narrative thread or obtaining a promising lead is rewarding, and overall, the title does a great job of keeping you guessing.

Outside of untangling the plot, you’ll be taking part in hectic combat. This is another area where Omensight borrows heavily from Stories, as the same base mechanics come into play. At first, you have the simple basics of light and heavy attacks, coupled with an evasive dodge. As your Harbinger levels up, you’ll be given access to more advanced techniques, like an enemy-slowing energy field and an instant-kill samurai slash. Combat never becomes overly complex, but there’s just enough spice to keep things entertaining.

Our only gripe with the action is that the controls feel just a touch too floaty. You do get used to how the Harbinger moves and the general pace of combat, but the apparent lack of weight is sure to make you fumble from time to time.

Those who played Stories on PlayStation 4 may recall that the game suffered from a slew of technical issues — problems that ultimately dragged the experience down until they were patched. Thankfully, Omensight is a lot smoother than its predecessor, sticking to what seems to be a firm frame rate 95 per cent of the time. Indeed, there are some drops here and there, but we didn’t encounter any noticeable dips during key gameplay sequences.

Conclusion

Omensight takes a lot of the ideas founded in Stories: The Path of Destinies and runs with them, successfully building on its predecessor with a very clever gameplay loop. While we doubt this repeating tale of the apocalypse will blow anyone away, Omensight is still a fine example of an interesting concept executed with style and confidence.

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