High-fantasy time travel murder mystery. That might just sound like a nonsense word soup, but it’s actually a pretty succinct description of the latest game from rising developer Spearhead Games. Two years ago, they brought us Stories: The Path of Destinies, an action-adventure where your choices and actions shaped a wide-branching story that you were tasked with repeating until you found the true story path. Stories introduced a lot of interesting ideas and mechanics, but with Omensight those ideas are presented in an even stronger package.
Omensight takes place in the same universe as Stories, but you don’t need to have played the first game in order to understand the story. All it means is that Omensight is also a story about anthropomorphic animal people in vibrant fantasy kingdoms, but fun and laughs are few and far between here. In Omensight, the land of Urralia is being torn apart by an intense war, and the one person who could bring an end to the war has been mysteriously murdered.
Her death sets off a chain of events that lead to an evil god destroying the world at the end of the day. Your goal, as the Harbinger, is to relive the last day of Urralia numerous times, following different characters on that day in order to have them reveal information and secrets to you that can help you prevent the end of the world from ever happening.
Omensight is billed as a murder-mystery game, and there is some truth to that. A mysterious murder has indeed happened, and you have to gather information as to who killed this person, and why. Your methods of investigation and deduction aren’t quite on the same concrete level as something like Ace Attorney or The Sexy Brutale, though.
There are four key characters in the game, and by accompanying these different characters during their last day of Urralia, you can get them to divulge new information, reveal the keys to opening various mysterious locks you see throughout the game, or bring you to important locations you could only go to with specific characters. The investigation loop is a little strange because you aren’t interrogating characters or finding hard evidence of crimes, you’re simply piecing together info from these characters in a big web until the full picture comes to light. It’s still pretty engaging and interesting to follow these characters and see how their true relationships and motives begin to take shape, but unfortunately, the momentum of the mystery is killed a little by the way you uncover your major breakthroughs.
At certain points in your investigation, you’ll find yourself standing in a key location and suddenly experience a vision of the past showing you a jaw-dropping revelation about the murder victim. These are called Omensights, and they are pretty lame. The content of these visions are major twists, yet you aren’t naturally progressing toward witnessing these events or having characters slip up and reveal them to you. You’ll be investigating your current lead, walk into a new room, and, with no explanation, magically have a vision of the past.
The rest of the game does an amazing job of having these fragmented stories and nuggets of info come together flawlessly, either through surprising character interactions or your own investigative intuition, but with Omensights, it feels like the game just drops a steaming twist on your lap out of nowhere. It never feels like you earned them.
Still, I found satisfaction in many other parts of the game. Despite the awkward method of investigation, the narrative weaved in Omensight is intriguing and engaging. I was glued to the controller start-to-finish simply because of how engrossed I was with the story and, more importantly, the characters. Your core cast of characters is small, but each one becomes so much more than the archetype they initially come across as. As you progress in the story, characters reveal their history, their relationships, and even their feelings toward you. Your actions can also affect the course of the day in many ways, and seeing how your choices affect them can reveal unexpected and even heartbreaking aspects of their lives.
Actions are key in Omensight, and not just in terms of the story. Story beats are woven together by crisp and energetic combat sequences, seeing you fight warriors from both sides of the war, mystic entities of destruction, and even the key characters of the story. You’ll utilize a basic one-button combo, a separate heavy attack button and an all important dodge to do most of your combat. As you fight, though, you’ll be gaining character experience and amber shards. Character experience feeds into you learning new combat abilities like time slowing or speed dashing, while your amber shards can be used to upgrade either those new abilities or your basic health and damage stats.
The combat system isn’t especially deep, but it never felt lacking or repetitive. Almost all of your battles see you fighting large groups of enemies, and with enemies constantly fielding attacks at you, battles never have you staying in the same place for long. You’ll be constantly dodging, dashing and running as you pelt enemies with attacks. You can get fancy and use environmental hazards or advanced abilities to spice things up a bit, and even get bonus experience for doing so, but the core idea of “never stop dodging” provided hours of fun alone.
Frantic battles and engaging story beats were accompanied by beautiful audio and visuals. The art of Omensight is gorgeous, with rich and dynamic character designs being rivaled by the colorful and exotic environments they live in. The music throughout was a perfect match for the tone and aesthetic of Omensight. Various key moments are complimented by music with mysterious, almost tribal chants and hums. It’s a style of music I adore that bears similarity to the musical queues of the anime Re:Zero, another about manipulating time and repeating the same day in order to prevent deaths.
Omensight scratches so many itches for me. I love murder mystery games and branching, time-manipulated narratives so much. Action games are some of my favorite games, and fantasy worlds that aren’t just more elves and goblins are so much more vibrant. Omensight takes all of these delicious ingredients and confidently tosses them into a boiling pot together. Some of the pieces don’t come together perfectly in the end, but the final dish is still unlike anything I can think of, and I can only hope Spearhead Games delivers just as great of an experience with their next release.