Omensight is the latest game from Spearhead Games, the developers behind the award-winning game Stories: The Path of Destinies. That game, praised for its branching story and multiple endings, placed a certain amount of power in its players to craft their own narrative – a feature we constantly clamor for in our big RPGs but rarely get to the scale that we’d like.
This time around their narrative experience is much more familiar but equally as enthralling to work through. Allow me to set the stage. In the land of Urralia, a figurehead has been murdered. She is the Godless Priestess Vera, a figure antithetical to the emperor of the ruling body, the Pygarians. The Pygarians, an empire of birds, have been locked in heated battle with the Rodentians, clans of mice and bear, for years when this murder sends shockwaves throughout Urralia. The death of Vera leaves the world in such a ruinous state, it sends it hurtling to the apocalypse. Here is where you, The Harbinger, enter. As the supernatural figure, it becomes your task to aid and similarly suspect key figures, who interact with one another on various occasions but not nearly enough, on either side of the conflict to resolve who murdered Vera and make things right.
You do this by revisiting the last day from the morning hours until reckoning over and over. It is on you to pick whomever of the four suspects you wish to revisit. Once you do, you follow them through a series of levels, mining them for information that will come in handy in your investigation. This can come by way of highlighted green text or methods to unlock seals, which are scattered about every area in the game and bar access to key story beats and collectibles. These beats are generally what the game would call an Omensight, a vision of a key event that you can then show to the main players at select instances. This can mean the difference between fighting and killing a character or showing them the vision to expose a further truth. At times one will be more necessary than the other, with a fault of the game being that it puts an over reliance on sharing the Omensight rather than giving a compelling enough reason not to.
Once you’ve seen the day through to its cataclysmic end, you return to a hub area where you can use your XP and currency to obtain and upgrade your abilities, respectively. There you can also peruse the investigation orb, which serves as a home to the fruit of your detective work. Characters, motivations, characteristics and a timeline of events are there in order to aid you in piecing together the mystery. A “True Detective” difficulty disables this orb and has you taking your own notes while piecing together the mystery if you really want to get into the role, but the strength of the game isn’t its investigative element so much as it’s constantly unfurling plot, which gets to be A LOT. Some minor inconsistencies, like characters not taking into consideration things they should know(including your own silent protagonist) when progressing, can be a tad infuriating and none of these characters are tremendously deep but on a surface level, they generally operate with sound logic at their backs.
Having shown a vision to a character drastically changes how the day would play out, taking you to different places (out of the five that exist in the game) at different times of day and makes you interact with different characters. While that may sound like a lot stuffed into a little, the game is short enough and quick in pace that this never feels like a slog. Due to the brevity of these levels, it never feels like the game is too withholding on plot as you’re almost guaranteed a new morsel of information at the end of one, roughly 20-30 minutes after beginning.
Speaking of pacing and brevity, that’s mostly to do with the fact that combat is a whimsical breeze. You won’t need much more than your light and heavy attacks or your dodge (which is at times annoyingly too present in combat); however the farther you progress through the game, the higher the number of environmental hazards and foes that the game will throw your way. It forces you to use your more advanced tactics, like an area-of-effect slowdown move with a projectile blast or tossing a foe at your teammate for an instant kill, to make quicker work of any aggressors. Once you begin to get a feel for the variety of the moves and upgrade them enough, you’ll be absolutely lethal and nigh untouchable. At the very least, it’s not as mechanical as any major game you’d play but at most it’s a significant upgrade from Stories, which funnily enough officially shares a canonical universe with Omensight. It’s a shame however that the boss encounters, which due to the Omensight abiliity are mostly optional, aren’t nearly as demanding as they could be. Most boiled down to repeating one move repeatedly while dodge rolling like a madman and the final boss of the game ended up being the easiest one of them, despite everything pointing to a grander clash.
Unfortunately, that botched final battle led to a similarly awful ending that seemed unreflective of almost anything I did in the game. While the grander conflict is resolved, the characters I got to know were left fates worse than death and importantly, fates they did not earn in my time with them. At the time of this writing, I’ve beaten the game once and there seem to be no indication that there is any other ending. If there is, the game has done a poor job communicating that it exists. If it doesn’t exist, the ending that is there seems poor, rushed and deeply cynical in a game concerned with the freeing and absolving power of the truth.
So while Omensight may have a left an incredibly bitter taste in my mouth, I can’t help but love all of the time I spent with it prior to its final act. Unraveling the mystery of Vera’s death and the conspiracy around it is deeply satisfying, especially as the late-game begins to make more characters collide and collude to solve the final riddles. The settings never expand beyond the few areas the game introduces but each is chock full of mysteries waiting to be revisited, almost like a Metroidvania. Wrap up that sense of exploration and mystery in a game that feels not just good but simple to play, and I can’t recommend Omensight more.
Disclaimer: Spearhead Games provided OK Beast an advanced review code of Omensight. The game was reviewed on a standard PS4.