Omensight – Delivers An Adventure Beyond Space And Time at PAX East 2018
Time is a product of our universe. It is woven into our existence, and into the cosmic science to which we as a species study. We can neither control it nor change it, but our universe has ways of bending it. In fiction, time has been used in various ways, from a tactical weapon to an enjoyable utility.
A battle for the future of humankind was waged in the present during the Terminator films while Marty McFly hopped into an experimental DeLorean and drove thirty years into the past in the Back To The Future Trilogy. Additionally, the sci-fi film, Interstellar, provided the most realistic depiction of time bending as the crew of the Endurance orbited a massive black hole in the film.
However, what if Time was not a weapon, but a detective’s tool, used for investigating serious matters? What if this tool meant the difference between the survival of civilization and a cataclysmic end to it all? If you could wield this power, what would your choices affect? Like Time, the outcome may be inevitable, but it is also subject to change.
This is Omensight from Canada -based Spearhead Studios. The game was featured proudly, both at its own booth and in the Indie MEGABOOTH, at PAX EAST 2018. As a huge enthusiast for the studio, and their previous works, I chose to check out Omensight and speak to the studio’s co-founder, Malik Boukhira.
Omensight is seen as a spiritual successor to Spearhead Games’ previous title. In 2016, Spearhead games released Stories: Path of Destinies, an adventure game with a Time loop as it’ central story device. In the vein of movies such as Groundhog Day, Run Lola Run, and Edge of Tomorrow, Stories: Path of Destinies has its hero discover a time loop.
In Stories, the protagonist known as Reynardo uncovers a mysterious book in the thick of combat. Upon an untimely demise, he discovers he is still alive. However, his day has restarted, and the hero finds himself stuck in a time loop but retaining his memory. He remembers the pain of his death, as well as the decisions he made that lead to his death. He is eternally tapped unless he makes the necessary choices that will have him break out of the loop. What appears to be an endless nightmare may become the last best hope.
Throughout the course of the game, the player must fight an evil army, while making decisions that will greatly affect the ultimate outcome of the adventure. The original game was critically and commercially praised for its fresh take on the adventure genre, along with amazing narration and distinct story-telling. Omensight seeks to be an evolution of the mechanics established in Stories.
Omensight is a story-driven action adventure game where players wield Time as a tool. Players play as a special warrior that exists outside the planes of existence, called the Harbinger. There are many worlds and timelines throughout the universe, maintained in balance, until one day, a cosmic cataclysm in the kingdom of Urralia sends the entire universe into chaotic peril.
The kingdom of Urralia is absolutely obliterated by an ancient, unstoppable evil. All of its leaders and inhabitants lay deceased and strewn about. This world and its people are gone. Nothing can bring them back. From the ashes of ruin, a dark, sinister creature pulsates with evil and rises on the horizon. For you, the Harbinger, the end is just the beginning. The Harbinger is a warrior that exists outside of time and place, accompanied by the cunning wits of a detective. Players play as the Harbinger, and it is up to them to restore the world. With the introductions out of the way, I was out to play Omensight for myself.
The first thing I noticed was the sharp, vibrant and cel-shaded visuals with the game. It was extremely pleasing to see a game with an apocalyptic theme with such vibrant visuals. My role was to enter the fire temple and confront a rogue king who is summoning a questionable magic to potentially stave off the apocalypse, at the cost of peace in the kingdom. I was accompanied by a female soldier, whose role was to guide the Harbinger through the temple.
We navigated some platforms and the soldier proceeds to explain the situation. In a firm, yet light-hearted way, she proceeds to explain the tensions amongst the kingdoms, including bringing up past conflicts that could be leading to the upcoming cataclysm. So after platforming, we encountered enemies and engaged in combat.
Combat occurs in an arena-like setting, with sword combat and dodging. The Harbinger is skilled with a blade, but not invincible. I was able to dodge, and swiftly dispatch opposing warriors with ease. Perhaps most exciting was the use of time-manipulation powers. Slow motion, buff, and an area-effect time spread were all instrumental in taking down large numbers of enemies. I dodged attacks but moved swiftly to dispatch the warriors. The combat was satisfying and the use of time-powers will certainly liven the combat experience.
Inevitably, we made it to the altar of the temple, where the king had performed the ceremony. The ceremony emblazoned his body in an eternal fire and gave him immense power. While the Harbinger stood silent, the Fire-king and the bunny soldier quarreled over past conflicts. Foolish past choices were brought up, but it was the sheer hatred for each other that boiled over. The two were representatives of their own faction, and it was clear there was a long history of crimes and violence between the two. Ultimately, the two resolved to fight to the death. In that instant, I had a choice. I could either join the bunny soldier and fight the fire king, or, show the fire king the Omensight, and a potential possibility of what will happen in the future.
I chose to use the time to show the King the Omensight, revealing a possible future. In doing so, I gained favor from the king but angered the bunny soldier. She saw my willingness to negotiate as a betrayal of trust, but the Fire King then reached out in agreement. I was then teleported to another temple, with scribes detailing potential clues as to who would bring the downfall of the kingdom. As he explained, he hinted of the impending doom and the irrational decisions many of these individuals have caused. Just as he started to put the information together, a great evil erupts from the ground. Purple fire violently emerges and destroys the temple, wiping everyone out. The Harbinger barely survives and now finds himself floating in an area between time and space. Once again, the kingdom of Urralia was obliterated by the great evil. However, while the world ended, The Harbinger garnered clues.
A new status screen appeared, detailing the characters, their intentions, and what the Harbinger learned. As mentioned before, The Harbinger uses Time to his advantage.As the Harbinger learned about the temple and the rogue king, new clues as to their intentions emerge.
Additionally, other happenings and behaviors are revealed for the other characters. With this knowledge, The Harbinger will have more choices and options the next time the day restarts. The goal will be to interact with these potential choices in discovering a means to save the kingdom of Urralia. As I was about to begin the day again, the demo ended.
Omensight is quickly looking like one of 2018’s very best games. The visual style is incredible, the game[ay is solid, but it will be the story and the writing that will ultimately win the day. The use of the Time Loop device, coupled with the anthropomorphic fantasy setting looks to make a remarkable impression on players, and the story is bound to make many interesting turns. Mr. Boukhira hopes to that the game’s theme of communication and decisions will resonate positively with players. I walked away excited about Spearhead Games’ next project and ambitious to what Omensight will bring.
Omensight is releasing for the PlayStation 4 and PC this Summer.