Omensight is a action game/murder mystery. Made by the same people as Stories: The Paths of Destiny, this game, too, makes use of a branching narrative structure, a time travel loop, and a cast of anthropomorphic animals (i.e. furries). Much like their other game, this game has a somewhat repetitive gameplay loop, and relies heavily on the story and its characters to sell the game to you.
Fortunately, much like their previous game, this game is pretty solid in those regards.
You play as the Harbinger – a mute glowing humanoid guardian. It’s the end of the world, and it is the Harbinger’s job to stop it. Unfortunately, the Harbinger only shows up moments before the end of the world; wandering arcoss a battlefield, the player is beset by enemies intent on killing them. You find first the corpse of Ludimir, a mighty bear warrior who tried (and failed) to assassinate the Emperor Indrik, then a dying Imperial general Draga, Indrik’s finest general. But it seems the war you’re observing is moot as Voden, a horrible magical serpent, breaks free and destroys the world and everyone in it.
The Harbinger is then introduced to the central game mechanic – at the end of every day, when the world is destroyed, the Harbinger is brought to the Tree of Life, the one place safe from the serpent. From here, you can level up, turn in “Amber” (the game’s currency) for purchasable upgrades, and then go back into the world, starting from the morning of a character of your choice – you start out being able to only follow Ludimir and Draga, but over the course of the game you unlock additional characters you can follow as you find their corpses (or more often, simply kill them yourself so you can start following them).
Your goal in doing all of this is to figure out how to prevent the end of the world at the hands of Voden. The Godless-Priestess Vera, a Dalhai Lama-esque figure, has been murdered, but worse, her spirit has somehow been trapped, preventing her from returning to the world and protecting it, and at the start of the game, it seems like your goal is pretty simple – find out who murdered Vera. But this being a mystery game, things aren’t as they seem, and there are a number of twists and turns in the plot as you make your way through.
Unlike Stories, this game actually has a pretty clear progression as you make your way through it, via the titular Omensight mechanic. As quickly becomes clear, your real goal in each cycle is to find an Omensight, a vision of what happened to the Godless-Priestess that would point towards what happened to her. This is typically achieved by finding someone who will teach you how to open a seal, a big magical lock thing that is found in several places, hiding off various secret areas and hidden memories. By going through the cycles, the characters will hint at who you should follow next or where you should be going by discovering things, or outright help you by teaching you how to open the seals.
At first, you are following around your allies, but after you start getting Omensights, each day, you show them the latest Omensight, which causes them to start changing their behavior – this leads you through the various levels in different ways, and even causes them to go to different levels entirely in pursuit of different characters. This can lead characters into conflicts that they never encountered normally, and also allow you to spare characters who would ordinarily get into fatal conflicts.
There are even a few points where you have a mid-path choice, where two characters come into conflict and you can either choose to help the person you’re following (starting a boss fight) or share your Omensight with the opponent as well, earning their trust and forcing them to collaborate with the person you’re following around. Each of these leads to different paths and different clues about what is going on.
Each run through a day is pretty short – most of them clock in around 30-40 minutes, but some are significantly shorter or longer than others. In some cases, virtually everyone in an area is friendly to the person you’re following around, while in others, you have to take a circuitous route through the level and fight everyone you come across. This is a good thing, however, as you’re going to be running through at least 10 days, and closer to 25 if you’re trying to do everything.
Overall, the story is fairly decent. While you will likely see most of the plot twists coming – or at the very least, anticipate that there will be a plot twist, even if you aren’t quite sure how it is going to pan out – overall the story is fairly satisfying. Unfortunately, I can’t really say the same thing for the ending, which seems to be an issue for this studio. Stories’ ending was a little bit dissatisfying because it didn’t really make use of the normal mechanics of the game to earn the “golden ending”, and likewise, Omensight’s “golden” ending is kind of arbitrarily tacked on. Its “normal” ending, at least, DOES use the normal mechanics, but feels a bit dissatisfying as well – when I’ve got the power of time travel, why does it have to be such a downer? Thus the player is left with a choice between artifice and darkness, neither of which feel particularly satisfying, doubly so given that you don’t really have much of a choice in how things ultimately play out.
However, the largest flaw with the story is the fact that the protagonist – the Harbinger – is inexplicably mute. This is awkward, as it means your companion spends a lot of time talking to themselves, and also disconnects you a bit from the story, as you don’t really get a good impression of what the Harbinger thinks about all this or what kind of person they are. And while I did like the other characters, it did feel awkward being so non-communicative all the time, especially when characters were asking you questions.
The actual gameplay is an upgrade from their previous game. The actual action of this game is fairly decent. The Harbinger fights with a sword, getting standard light and heavy attacks, but also has the ability to slow down time (both in an area of effect, as well as after dodging an attack), as well as the ability to pick up and throw things, do a fast dash attack, and call on their companion for help in a combo attack. Indeed, there’s actually two ways of using your companion – the combo attacks, and picking up enemies and tossing them to them.
The combat as a whole is actually reasonably satisfying for what it is, but it suffers a bit from its limited enemy variety – there’s maybe ten kinds of enemy in the entire game, and a number of them fight rather similarly, just being melee dudes who you hack through, with the difficulty primarily coming from being swarmed as well as some of the later ranged attackers.
On the other hand, the game has a surprising number of bosses – you can fight five different characters as bosses, but one has two forms and one has three forms, meaning you actually can fight more like eight distinct bosses. This is actually a quite reasonable boss variety, doubly so as you can avoid a number of the boss fights should you so choose, so you won’t be fighting them too many times.
All in all, I ended up liking this game – I thought that it, like Stories, played with player choice in an interesting way. Getting to see the same characters react to the same day with differing information gives you interesting insight into their character. And the game does a good job of delivering its story in a continuous manner, rather than soley relying on cutscenes.
But at the same time, I feel like this game had many of the same weaknesses as their previous game – the gameplay ends up being repetitive by the end of it, and the story’s ending is kind of a letdown. Anyone who has a low tolerance for repetition is going to want to steer clear here, as while the game manages to stretch its content out more than it seems like it will at first and tries to mix things up, it still has a pretty limited amount of it that you’re going to play through multiple times.