PCAlso available on Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One
Foul play is afoot. The emperor is dead and the end of all things is upon the world. In this darkest moment The Harbinger, a guardian spirit, is called forth to seek answers as to how this has come to be and, with any luck, reverse the hands of time and prevent cataclysm.This is the opening moment of Omensight, a story driven 3rd person action RPG from Spearhead Games. Thrust into an already dead world, you're given details of the events leading to this moment, a foreboding warning of evil's triumph should you fail and a simple task - find out what happened and make sure it doesn't happen again. The next step is taking control of the Harbinger and hacking and slashing your way to a better future.
Omensight's plot is a murder mystery penned by Nadim Boukhira (Stories), Genese Davis (The Holder’s Dominion), and Chris Avellone (Planescape: Torment, Pillars of Eternity). You might well expect something a little more than a straight forward story given the games that group has previously worked on, and you'll be pleasantly surprised if you do.
As said, the end of all things is here and you, The Guardian, have been woken to save the day. You're given a couple of potential leads on what to do next - you can return to the start of the final day and follow someone integral to the events that you seek to prevent. You've two choices to begin with, a drunken bear man named Ludomeer and a cat woman filling the role of general named Draga. Yes, I said bear man and cat woman. Anthropomorphism is the order of the day when it comes to character design in Omensight, be that a good or bad thing to you.
Joining them at the start of their day, you learn of their motivations and reasons to act as they will. You aid them in battle, progress through areas filled with just enough secret filled nooks and crannies, and eventually return to the moment where the world ends. Each trip through a given character's day offers up fresh snippets of information, keys to new routes and insight on events that took place just before this fateful day began. More characters become available in time, each adding a fresh perspective on what happened and each giving The Harbinger a piece of the broader picture. With that in mind, you'll be returning to the same locations a few times, though each time it'll be with fresh perspective and a relatively different offering from enemies and the routes you'll take. When all is said and done, what you once thought you knew about each character will have been challenged and what might at first have seemed to be a relatively simple case of someone gone mad with power will reveal itself to be something far more nuanced.
Once The Guardian is in your hands, those familiar with 3rd person action games are going to find this game highly intuitive. That said, things start easily enough for even those with zero experience - the game offering up tutorials and advice that should allow just about anyone with two thumbs to be able to step into the fray and come out relatively unscathed. Combat is a fairly standard offering with groups of enemies of varying sizes and specialities being offered up in arenas built around a concept such as a lumbering siege engine or perhaps an area laden with columns to be broken down and used to crush one's foes. Mixing light and heavy melee attacks alongside dashes and dodges, The Guardian can rapidly tear through the hordes of wolf warriors and rat rebels in style.
Eventually combat becomes challenging enough to require use of some tactical thinking and the various abilities you unlock via levelling over the course of the game, such as slowing time or picking up and hurling enemies at each other, but never reaches a point where defeat feels unfair due to poor design or that finesse control is expected in a way that can drain fun for some.As seems to be a bit of trend in more recent releases, perhaps the weakest element of the combat is the boss fights. There aren't all that many and they're quite similar for the most part, featuring a projectile spamming enemy who can only be hit once or twice before they teleport or move away, invincible for a moment or two. It's nothing that truly hurt's the pace of the game, with their health bars being small enough that fights don't drag, but it's hard to call them more than servicable.
Featuring bright, high contrast cell shading, the visual impact of the game is instant and appealing. Enemies, allies and environments, while not excessively detailed, carry more than enough character in their design to invite comparison to the highly lauded Wind Waker, albeit the fidelity allowed by current generation technology makes this offering all the more impressive with it's mix of colours, lighting and shading.
Environments are linear and, thanks to a conceit of the plot, a little repetitive thanks to the fact that you'll be returning to them at least a couple of times each before the game is over. While that might seem unappealing at a glance, the relative brevity of the game combined with the tight controls and story pacing meant each return to a familiar location with fresh information and abilities in tow invited some wonder as to where you might unexpectedly be asked to go and what you might see and learn on this new path as opposed to a groan as you're invited to try and enjoy the same section for the tenth time.Musically, the game is lovely. Choral vocals and an ethereal quality to the accompanying music fit the setting and characters beautifully, elevating moments and truly helping to keep you in the moment.Voice acting too is an absolute highlight of the game, with a variety of talent such as Patricia Summersett (Zelda: Breath of the Wild) and Julian Casey (We Happy Few, Stories) lending their noise makers.
In all, Omensight clearly has a lot of heart and, while not as lengthy or deep as some other games in the genre, it offers up a kind of marriage between gameplay and story telling that makes use of it's format rather than being limited by it. That somewhat tragic story is one that seems likely to inspire a lot of thought from the young minds that interact with it, hopefully some of the aged ones too.