I’m a huge fan of murder mysteries. Combine that with a quick moving hack-and-slash action game and I’m instantly intrigued. Enter Omensight, the second outing from developer Spearhead Games. Omensight is kind of a mixed bag. There is a lot to like, but a few glaring issues that bog down gameplay.
Omensight follows the Harbinger, a celestial being sent to prevent the end of the world. There are several factions in the world of Urralia, and during the course of the story and depending on the events that unfold, are always at odds with each other. After the priestess Vera is murdered, a giant world ending serpent appears to devour the world. The twist here, is that the Harbinger only has one day to stop Voden. Luckily, with a little help she can turn back time right when Voden appears to the beginning of each day, reliving the same day over and over again. Each day is a new chance to prevent the end of the world with the help of the companions the Harbinger meets throughout the journey.
This is a new twist on Groundhog’s Day, and the story is one of Omensight’s greatest strengths. The warring factions in Omensight go back and forth as the Harbinger discovers new insights into the murder of Vera. This back and forth between the main core companions provides plenty of twists and turns along the journey, keeping the story refreshing and interesting throughout the 7 or 8 hour campaign.
However, the way the story unfolds is also Omensights greatest weakness. As these story sequences unfold, players are forced to retread the same areas over and over again. There are brief sections of new areas, but for the most part there are only 4 or 5 core areas players will go through. The Groundhog Day layout of the story works against the gameplay, is really the Achilles heel of Omensight. It honestly is too bad that there weren’t a few more areas to explore, because it unfortunately overstayed its welcome about halfway through.
There is a bit of guesswork involved as well. In between each area players are transported to a hub world where they can upgrade their abilities (more on that later), look at the clues they’ve unlocked, and choose which ally they want to follow the story with for that day. At certain points in the story, if I was unsure of who I where I was supposed to go I would just pick an ally and follow the story. There are some clues hidden in the texts of the world, but it generally led to me having to go through two or three of the areas I’ve already gone through, just to lead me nowhere. The one smart thing that Omensight does in this aspect is that if I had already gone through an area that day, and I needed to go through it again with new information, it let me skip to the critical moment, allowing me to avoid a portion of the level I’ve already completed.
Other than the twisting story, the thing that kept bringing me back to Omensight was the combat. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it’s fast, easy to pick up, and fluid. In the beginning, the Harbinger only has a couple moves with a fast attack and a heavy attack. As she defeats enemies and levels up new abilities are unlocked. One creates a sphere where time moves very slowly, while another lets the Harbinger dash around the battlefield. The combat allows for some pretty cool variations with all of the different abilities, but is held back by lacking enemy varieties.
Omensight controls really well for the most part too. I had a couple of hiccups during world traversal with the rigid camera, but combat was very responsive to my inputs. Some of the battle were a little frustrating with random difficulty spikes, but I appreciated the extra difficulty with the lack of enemy variety. The one thing that really surprised me was that I was able to defeat the final boss in a matter of seconds. I’m not sure if I just caught him in a loop, but after entering the final fight the last cutscene came up ten seconds later.
Visually, Omensight is pretty, but not groundbreaking. Areas are bright and colorful, and characters are charming and well animated. I didn’t have any framerate issues, and everything was really smooth, even during the most chaotic fights. Some of the cutscenes seemed hand drawn as well, which helped bring the lack of animated conversations some extra life. The stylized visuals fit the whimsical tone, and felt right at home in Omensight.
Additionally the cast of characters are pretty great. Most of the voice actors did a great job, with witty dialogue and funny punch lines. Some of the characters have clever whips during darker moments that help bring some levity to the Harbingers journey. As the Harbinger goes through these days repeatedly, the main map shows the location of her allies. As they follow leads and investigate clues, even the ones that aren’t directly involved in the current level move around the world showing the Harbinger what they’re up to.
Omensight has some really good ideas, but are held down by poor execution with game design. Fast and fluid combat can’t keep up with the repetition during the overall journey. It’s too bad too, because the murder mystery Groundhog Day is a pretty great gameplay mechanic, even if the journey can’t stay fresh past the halfway point.
Omensight is available now for Playstation 4 and PC. This review is based on a PS4 copy of the game provided by the publisher.