Let me tell you, ladies, gents, and anyone else within read-shot. Despite a very strong start, I was about ready to give up on Omensight ($19.99) a few times as I played it. In fact, after sinking half a day into it when I first got a review code and later, a few more hours over the course of a week, I was torn between loving the game for its gorgeous stylized visuals and interesting murder mystery/action adventure hybrid thing and almost hating it because some key gameplay elements were a bit too broken to make me want to continue.
As I really liked developer Spearhead Games’ award-winning Stories: The Path of Destinies a lot (go get it, I say), I went in knowing the quality of this new game would be at least up to snuff or even better than its predecessor. On the surface, the more impressive visuals, stylish combat and intriguing segmented story structure made for a excellent followup. But a few things marred the experience somewhat.
While the combat was solid, the tendency for off-screen enemies to launch assorted physical, ranged and magic attacks made getting though some sections unscathed quite annoying. Especially as the game offered a score bonus for not taking damage from enemies or accidentally falling off ledges. Which leads to the jumping sections in the game where frustration abounded thanks to areas where clean traversal was nearly impossible partially thanks to the locked down game camera either not being in an optimum spot or me simply missing what should have been a simple jumping sequence thanks to stuff like flying creatures in the way or a platform or three seeming as if they were the place to leap (but weren’t). Sort of like this example (yep, that’s me being very terrible as this game in that clip below). So, I stopped playing and decided to wait until a patch or two dropped to fix things up.
Thankfully, the game ended up getting those few helpful patches that cleaned things up significantly as well as adding a few unexpected yet very welcome tweaks and yes, I can now heartily recommend it as a very solid sleeper hit worthy of your time.
As the Harbinger, you’re tasked with solving the murder of the honored priestess of war-torn Urralia with the caveat that you need to do this by reliving the final day of the life of your world thanks to the massive demon that destroys it as the day ends. Finding the murderer will stop this disaster from happening and you’ll have the aid of a few anthropomorphic friends and foes in your time travels. Yes, there’s a Groundhog Day thing going on here and while the silent Harbinger isn’t exactly Sherlock Holmes, her investigative skills will be put to the test as much as her combat skills as the mystery unfolds.
As the plot plays out, you’ll need to team up with the other heroes or villains, battling enemies and obtaining clues that you can use to piece together who the killer is and why they did what they did. Each of your temporary allies has his or her own motivations that offer an extra layer to the plot. The cat warrior Draga, Ratika (yep, she’s a rat), Ludomir (a bear) and, villainous bird Indrik all have interesting bits to add to the overall tale, and it’s up to you to choose where to go as you battle and detect a path to the end. The already great combat has been refined in the patched version to give you more of a fighting chance against larger packs of enemies (those off screen attackers are gone) and there are new easier modes for battles and investigation sequences.
(Thanks, Spearhead Games!)
While I didn’t find the investigation process needed the assist, it’s good to see the developer was listening to and reading notes online from some who did have issues and responded accordingly. The biggest change for me was Spearhead reworking the jumping sequences to be less annoying and fixing one truly hair-pulling sequence to be a great deal more beatable. This new flow as well as a story that offers up some very nice twists and turns as it branches out makes for a pretty compelling play. Sure, the voice acting may sound a bit too much Saturday morning cartoon-like. But it’s well done (to my ears) and I liked the different personalities the characters exhibit.
One of the most interesting aspects is even if you figure out who the killer is, the game will still get you playing thanks to the leveling and skills system plus all those dang doors you can find keys to which has you going back into levels to unlock. This gets slightly tricky because the game guides you to choose solving the case over treasure hunting, but you’ll want to fully explore every map carefully thanks to hidden items in some seemingly hard or impossible to reach places. Doing better at finding stuff (smash every breakable you can find, folks!) and dispatching enemies with flair award you with points to spend upgrading your Harbinger to be even more formidable.
While the game isn’t all that long (about 8 hours or so), it’s one where that length ends up being adjustable as you can tailor the combat and clues to be easier or tougher. The game is also pretty replayable if you go in blind and/or don’t instantly haunt the internet looking up the fastest way through (boo to that noise, I say). As for the future, I’m hoping Spearhead brings back some of all of these characters and maybe the cast from Stories in something even more epic. Of course, we shall see, but they’ve already got characters with character, so they may as well use them in the future.
Score: B+ (85%)
Review code provided by the publisher