PC, PlayStation 4
Omensight is a fun murder mystery game with great combat, but more polish and content could have made it even better.
You had one job – stopping the end of the world. Unfortunately, you failed.
Too bad really, because it was a beautiful world full of cute furry animals in constant political conflict. Now they are all dead.
Luckily for you (or rather, them), the world is now stuck in a continuous time loop that plays the last day over and over again. As the Harbinger, a mythical entity that can avert the end of days, you can keep trying to cancel the apocalypse until you get it right.
That is the basic premise behind Omensight, a new indie action-adventure by Spearhead Games. The game is also the spiritual successor to the charming Stories: Path of Destinies, and uses a lot of the same mechanics. If you played Stories, know that you’re in for a similar, but way more polished experience.
In Omensight, you don’t stop the end of the world by blowing up an asteroid or battling climate change. All you need to do is solve one murder. Simple, right?
Well, not really, no; not when the victim in question is the land’s most beloved spiritual leader, and all of your suspects are emperors, generals, and revolutionaries. Oh, and one drunken bear.
The murder mystery at the heart of the game is the linchpin that holds the entire plot together, and what drives it forward. And it’s actually really good. I was never able to guess the chain of events that led to the murder, and every new revelation threw me completely off track.
Like any good mystery, you unravel it bit by bit. You start with very little to go on, but you slowly and surely gain enough new information to connect some dots. From there it’s just a matter of chasing clues and reaching conclusions.
What follows is an intriguing story that I don’t want to give away. The plot itself never feels particularly epic, despite ushering in the end of the world. Instead, you get quite a personal story where you get to know all the players and get invested in their fate (and that of the world).
Each time loop starts when you decide which of the main suspects to spend the day with. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with these few characters, so you’ll get to know them pretty well. At first, I wasn’t too fond of about half the characters. They all seemed too shallow and one-dimensional. The voice acting didn’t help either.
However, as the story progressed, I discovered they had multiple layers, and I started liking them more and more. Each character has their own personality, motivations, and secrets, and reacts differently (and sometimes violently) to every breakthrough in the case.
When you discover a crucial clue in the murder mystery, you gain an Omensight – a powerful vision of that reveals hidden truths. Once you uncover such a vision, you can share it with your suspect to move the story to the next act, where events start playing out a bit differently.
No matter what stage your investigation is on, a time loop follows a set formula: you go through one area, fight a bunch of bad guys, make some sort of choice, move on to the next area and fight a boss. There are some exceptions to the rule, of course, but not a lot.
Since there are only four main suspects to choose from, and about four locations to visit, the game can get repetitive at some point. Luckily, there are a few elements that help break that repetition.
As I mentioned, almost each time loop presents you with a binary choice at some point. This choice changes the way the rest of the day unfolds, creating at least two possible paths for every loop. Luckily, the game lets you skip past any part of the day you’ve already seen, which helps reduce the game’s repetitive nature.
Unfortunately, these choices are the most you’ll affect the game’s story. For the most part, you feel like a voiceless passenger along for the ride. Yes, the choice you make in each loop affects its outcome, but this outcome is completely erased once you start a new loop. It doesn’t really hurt the game’s story or impact, but it does make Omensight a somewhat passive experience when it comes to the narrative.
The second element is exploration. As the game progresses, you unlock new areas in each location. Most of them merely contain more items or collectibles, but some open up new paths to take. It’s not a lot, but even though I played through these locations multiple times, I still haven’t found every unlockable area.
The third and perhaps the most fundamental one is the combat. Combat in Omensight is pretty straightforward at first glance. You can overcome almost every encounter using the two basic attacks, but frankly, that’s boring and doesn’t do the game justice.
There are plenty of special moves and magical attacks you can unlock through a straightforward upgrade system. New abilities are unlocked as you level up, and then you spend crystals to improve them. There’s a good amount of freedom when choosing which ability and enhancement to focus on, though by the end you’ll probably upgrade everything you possibly can.
During combat, you can shoot projectiles, throw enemies, use the environment against them and more. One of the more useful ability lets you stop time for a few seconds. Yes, we’ve seen this done in countless other games, but I especially like it here.
You can perform all your attacks while time is frozen, but they’ll only take effect once the flow of time resumes. For example, if you fire a projectile, it will immediately freeze mid-air, so you have the time to throw an enemy into it. Or you can set a fire barrel to explode and still have to time to get away in time.
Basically, combat is as complex as you want it to be. I had a lot of fun finding new ways to combine my powers and dispatch of my enemies in creative ways.
The only problem I had if with the controls – they are just not responsive enough. Sometimes you are just too fast for the game to register, especially when there are a lot of enemies attacking you at once. You need to give the game a split-second to “breathe” between one special move to the next. While it never cost me the battle, it was annoying to lose my rhythm just because the game didn’t register I wanted to unleash a powerful attack.
The cel-shaded visuals, combined with the anthropomorphic animals that populate its world give the game an innocent, almost cartoonish look. The visual design contrasts well with the subject matter of murder and apocalypse but also makes sure the game is never too graphic or unpleasant to look at.
For an indie title, Omensight is a pretty great game. I appreciate its creative take on murder mysteries, and the story kept me going even when the gameplay got repetitive. If you’re an aspiring detective that enjoys doling out justice as much as seeking it, don’t leave this mystery unsolved.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.