Reigning cats and dogs
It’s a setup we’re all familiar with by now: a kingdom divided, the clash of steel, a greater threat creeping up at the margins. But Omensight throws in a couple of fun extra twists. The fantasy kingdom of Urralia? Its inhabitants are all sword-wielding dogs, birds and rats. And that creeping threat, the serpent Voden? It destroys the world in the opening ten minutes.
As the enigmatic Harbinger, you replay Urralia’s final pre-apocalyptic hours over and over, attempting to piece together what happened. We’d compare it to Groundhog Day, but honestly the Harbinger looks more like a mouse to us. On each go-round, you pick one of four characters to spend the day with. There’s Ratika, the lute-plucking bard turned rebel leader, or Ludomir the bear with a patch over one eye and an accent that strays from cockney to Aussie. Whoever you choose, though, it always ends the same way – with a giant snake-god nomming down on all of existence.
So you start again and pick a new animal pal to ride along with. You’ll often witness the same event from overlapping perspectives, but sometimes you’ll be able to change how it plays out – simply by your presence, or using an ability or piece of information collected in another timeline. Inevitably, visiting the same locations over and over starts to get a little repetitive, but these variations help to keep things fresh.
Your efforts are framed around a murder mystery, but it’s not exactly a case of pointing a magnifying glass at clues. Omensight is first and foremost a combat game, casting the Harbinger more as Hack-and-slash Bandicoot than Great Mouse Detective. Again, we’re not sure what kind of animal she actually is, but we’re not going to let that get in the way of a good punning opportunity. Or a bad one.
Battle for supremacy
In battle, consistently outnumbered, you bounce from enemy to enemy with all the fluid grace of the Prince Of Purrsia. Rather than long button combos, victory relies on perfectly timed dodges and counterattacks, in a way that’s reminiscent of Batman’s fighting style in Barkham Asylum.
At the end of each day, there’s a chance to trade in XP for upgrades, which gradually fills out the controller with new moves. By the end, you’ll be able to dash through enemies, throw explosive barrels with telekinesis and even slow time. So even if you’re approaching the exact same fight for the third or fourth time, you’ll always have new ways to beat them.
Narratively, though, these battles can start to feel a little odd, because you’re constantly jumping sides. Your four companions are split between the Pygarian empire (birds, cats, dogs) and the Rodentian rebellion (mice, rats, for some reason bears), so you’ll find yourself killing the soldiers you were fighting alongside yesterday. This isn’t Star Paws, with the good rebellion against the evil empire – Omensight’s story lives in the grey areas.
This makes for a fascinating contrast with the cast of cuddly animals. At first it’s novel – and funny – to hear cats and warthogs spouting the usual high-fantasy nonsense about prophecies and world-eating serpents, especially as some of the voice acting is a bit off. But as the hours go on that all fades away to leave a well-realised setting. Along with the central mystery, it all makes for a compelling tail. Sorry – tale. Okay, perhaps we haven’t quite forgotten this is an animal kingdom.
“Omensight is first and foremost a combat game”
left Visually, the game sits somewhere between picture book and fantasy anime, with some truly beautiful vistas to drink in.