Omensight is a new action-adventure title from Spearhead Games that claims to offer a murder mystery story that includes time traveling elements, and combat crazy enough to match the premise. After beating the game, and spending considerable time playing through alternate routes in the story, I can say that I enjoyed my time with Omensight. It reminds me a little of Majora’s Mask and God of War. I can't say it compares to the quality of those two games, but it certainly holds its own.
The player character of Omensight is a mysterious figure called the Harbinger, who is said to only appear when the world is about to end. It doesn’t take long to find out those stories are true, but all is not lost. Luckily, the Harbinger can travel back in time to the final days of characters that are met throughout the story. It is up to the player to figure out how to save the world before a giant serpent eats everything.
And if a world-eating serpent reminds you of Santa Monica’s most recently released title, then the combat will feel familiar as well. Don’t get me wrong, Omensight’s combat is nowhere as in-depth as God of War's, but they do both focus heavily on attacking and dodging. There are even regular and heavy variations of attacking, and special moves that are gained as the player progresses through the game.
Overall, I found the combat to be a lot of fun and well thought out, especially for an indie game. It is probably my favorite part of Omensight, but it does lack a certain smoothness. Special moves are executed by holding a button, and then releasing. It sounds simple enough, but it doesn't feel natural to use. Executing special moves lacked consistency and I often found that they would either go off when I didn't want them to, or not go off at all. Simply holding a button to unleash a special move would have made them much easier, and I don’t understand Spearhead’s decision to require a release as well.
But again, that is just a consistency problem. Regular and heavy attack variations, dodging, upgradable moves, and special attacks make the combat deep and complex. It even allows for many different play styles, so it won't be hard finding one that best suits each kind of player.
Another high point are the beautiful visuals the game offers. Omensight isn’t going to blow anyone away with its graphical fidelity, but the art style and color choices constantly had me pausing to take in my surroundings. I would actually compare it to Furi, another game that I found visually stunning. It’s an art style that is easier to develop than something hyper-realistic, and it makes it easier for developers to accentuate colors. Simply having this visual style doesn't guarantee a beautiful game, but Spearhead Games nailed the execution and deserve props for it.
But despite having a simpler art style than some games, I have to report that Omensight does not run particularly well on the standard PS4. Normally I am not one to complain about the FPS of a game, as long as frame rate drops are rare and not too noticeable. But Omensight has some of the most constant frame rate drops I have ever seen. I cant say it ruined the game for me, as I still believe it is worth playing, but be aware that they do happen fairly often. I cant imagine Spearhead plans on leaving it as is, and hopefully a performance patch is planned, but I can only write about how the game plays right now.
Something else that Omensight shares with God of War is the implementation of a partner character. There are a total of four characters that, during different points of the game, will tag along with the Harbinger. They aren’t as developed as God of War’s Atreus, as they mostly move on a track when not fighting. But they do help during combat and even have a special move that they can be instructed to use. Additionally, these are the same four characters that the player will be traveling back in time to meet on their last day, and they are all very important to the story.
The story itself, despite what Spearhead Games will tell you, is not what I would call a murder mystery. Yes, a character is murdered in the beginning of the story, and the player must learn who committed said murder. But calling it a murder mystery gives the impression that the player will, in some way, interact with different pieces of evidence, and will at some point have to accuse someone of the crime. But that is not the case with Omensight. The story simply features a murder, and the killer isn’t revealed until later in the game. A video game having someone be murdered doesn't make it a murder mystery, so if that is what interest you the most about this game, prepare to be disappointed.
But how the story is presented is actually genius. Like I explained earlier, the Harbinger must go back in time throughout the game to the start of a specific characters last day to try and stop the end of the world. Each level begins the morning of the last day, and it ends at night when a giant serpent consumes everything. New avenues and story developments will open up depending on the choices the player makes. For example, the player can choose to withhold information from a character, then go back in time and present the information instead to get a different result. It makes the entire game much more engrossing. This, however, does mean that a lot of the areas in-game are played through many times, but I didn't find that to negatively impact my experience too much.
Unfortunately, while the story itself isn’t bad, I did find it disappointing. I kept waiting for the story to take unexpected turns and risks, especially since Spearhead is touting it so much. But everything turned out to be very predictable. I kept finding myself interested in a specific plot twist, only to be let down with its resolution. Spearhead did create a great world with an interesting cast of characters. They just played it too safe in the end, when it could have been something really spectacular.
Omensight set out to be something really ambitious. It aimed for complex and satisfying combat, an interesting story told in a unique way, and visuals that would stun for years to come. It didn’t quite hit the mark, but Spearhead Games got close enough to make for a memorable experience that I highly recommend.