Omensight by developer Spearhead Games continues the studio’s apparent love of time manipulation, mysteries, and a lot of cartoon animal killing. The stakes have been raised even higher with players now tasked to solve a murder mystery. While it may have a stronger foundation compared to their previous game, Omensight’s strong beginning doesn’t last until the end.
Taking place in the same universe as Spearhead Games’ previous hit Stories: The Path of Destinies, the story begins with the end of the world. Two different nations are fighting a battle and when you arrive, you discover that someone has released a death God who proceeds to wipe out everyone.
As a creature known as the Harbinger, it’s your job to figure out who murdered the only person who could have prevented this, while investigating the lives of four central figures to the war and situation. As a creature outside of time, you have the power to essentially rewind the last day of the planet, and team up with one of the four characters.
The basic gameplay loop is that you’ll learn more about the situation at hand by seeing what happened to the character.
Eventually, you’ll discover core truths known as omensights that can be used to convince a character to step out of their normal routine. Each chapter ends with you making another big discovery and leads you closer to what really happened.
Outside of the investigation, you’ll be getting into a lot of fights, and Omensight’s combat system is pretty good.
The combat of Omensight is an iteration on Spearhead’s previous title. You will always be outnumbered, but the fluidity of combat works in the player’s favor. You are able to dodge out of any animation, with perfect dodging rewarding a moment of “bullet time.” Most of the time, you will be joined by a partner who will fight with you and can perform special moves of their own.
Unlike Stories, there are far more enemy types in this game, with you going up against both armies, creatures from the Void, and the four characters. Due to time travel wackiness, you’ll end up fighting each character on multiple occasions.
There is a basic progression system in the form of unlocking new abilities and passive bonuses after each day is over. By the end of the game, most enemy groups shouldn’t be able to touch you. In-between the combat, you will perform some basic platforming, but the focus is on the fights.
While Omensight certainly has the hook, and great combat to back it up, it just doesn’t know how to keep it all working throughout the experience.
The first time you play through the lives of Omensight’s main characters and start to learn about the mystery is the best part of the game. Unfortunately, things began to take a turn towards repetition.
Probably the closer analog to Omensight’s structure would be the The Sexy Brutale. Both games had the player working within the confines of a limited time loop, and the idea was to figure out how to move on to the next situation within the loop.
The problem is Omensight quickly runs out of ways to keep things interesting. The murder mystery hook is a great one, but the game kind of fibs when it comes to you figuring things out. Each chapter has a fixed solution, and with only four characters to play around with doesn’t leave a lot of room for critical thinking. Without spoiling things too much, the whodunit aspect gives way towards a larger, but less interesting mystery.
To the game and developer’s credit, after you play through a day with a character, you are able to skip to the “critical moment,” or when you can impact their decision. While it does keep the game from becoming a complete slog, it can become tiresome to keep playing.
The structure of Omensight prevents you from exploring outside of the confines of each character’s perspective; meaning that you will be going through the same areas multiple times. The developers tried to interject some bonus exploration with hidden chests and lore, but it does not change the primary paths through.
New enemies do get introduced as the chapters continue, but there were no new mechanic or gameplay additions.
The worst aspect of Omensight was that as the player, you really don’t have all that investment in the characters or the situation. An ally one day can be someone you run your sword through the next. The Harbinger does not speak at all or show any emotion about the situation. There’s not even a true narrator like in Stories to provide some levity to the situation.
New information you learn does not impact the gameplay or choices at all; with exception to the omensights. It would have been interesting (and infinitely more complex) to allow the player’s investigation to impact the events in subtle ways. There were plenty of times where I felt that if I could just say what I knew, the story would go by a lot quicker.
Omensight is definitely a step up from Stories in terms of the basic game system, but I felt that the integration of gameplay and story was better compared to Omensight. I’m definitely interested to see what Spearhead Games has in store in the future, as the design is certainly there for something amazing.