Saturday, June 10, 2017

Omikron: The Nomad Soul - Unfinished Playthrough Review

After what is probably a year of trying to get through it, I decided to uninstall Omikron: The Nomad Soul. And what really bugs me about it is that I can't really put my finger on why I couldn't get into it.
There are plenty of games otherwise that I enjoy well enough, but I just know that I will never be able to beat them for one reason or other - most often the reason being that it's just too damn difficult. For instance I loved Faster Than Light and played it countless hours but I still ever only managed to beat it on easy (and I am pretty damn proud at that). I could've played it still today, and probably will play it again in the future, but I just had to recognize that eventhough it was still fun there were also other games I wanted to try out (oh, so many) and I simply needed to make room. For FTL it was not goodbye however, simply auf wiedesehen. I am also currently playing Crypt of the Necrodancer and having great fun with it but I can also tell already that I will never be able to beat that game - I've made it halfway through world two at the moment and damn those dragons get me every time! I am still far from giving up on that one however, thanks in large to the über-awesome OST, so you never know - miracles to happen.

Just your typical bar.

That was not the issue with Omikron however. I don't know what the issue with Omikron was! Just a bit of background here, it was originally released in 1999 (a great year for PC gaming - Age of Empires 2, System Shock 2 and Planescape Torment were also released this year, to name a few!) by Quantic Dream, you know the people who later did Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls? Yeah, this was their first game.
It really had everything going for it to sweep me off my feet. It was from the time period of PC gaming that I love, it has the fugly graphics that I love. The story is pretty good and the characters are interesting enough. I didn't even think the controls and gameplay mechanics were overly difficult, once I finally got them working anyway (turns out Omikron doesn't particularly like it when you have a controller installed but that took me way long to figure out). The controls were far from perfect, for instance why would you have two completely different control schemes depending on if you're swimming or walking? That nearly had me drowning way too many times. But that is something I come to expect from that time period, I've played plenty of games from that time to know that back then people just invented their own way of doing it, WASD was barely a thing yet. So with each game you try out, part of the fun is trying to figure out how to move around at all. And like I said, it wasn't overly bad in Omikron, but pretty standard tank-controls with easy to understand trigger-keys.


You can tell it's David Bowie, right?

And the gameplay, well - many of the gameplay aspects were actually quite good. They had the regular mode, but then in some parts of the game it turns into some style of shooter (and again, different controls) but all of these were well designed enough to add rather than subtract from the whole. It spiced things up and never became frustrating. The "hail-a-taxi"-feature was great, making sure you could always get to quest-points you needed to go to, or had already visited. This made sure you never got lost and confused. Ok, scratch that - I was plenty confused. Some of the puzzles were quite tricky and I definitely had to employ walkthroughs to get through them. Even when I knew exactly what I had to do, I wasn't standing in the exact right place or talking to the right people in the right order to get it to work. And I would've never been able to figure out I needed to take over the guards body to escape from the prison, I didn't even know I had that ability! But again, it's the style of the times and that in combination with my, quite frankly, abysmal puzzle-solving skills is just a hotbed for frustration on my part. I don't blame the game for that though, the information was there if you knew where to look (or had the patience to keep looking).

It didn't crash or bug on me even once either (not counting when I first started playing it and couldn't get the controls to work), unlike games like KOTOR. KOTOR I had to stop playing after I realized I had spent more time troubleshooting bugs and crashes than I had spent time actually playing it. After a critical bug saw me having to replay hours of the game (I had chosen the wrong dialogue option way back, not triggering an event to happen) I decided enough was enough. No such trouble with Omikron, it ran smoothly.

The cab is the best.
And yet, it just never was... fun enough. But like I said, I can't explain why. Somehow the the whole ended up just not being as good as the parts of it. I could appreciate each element of the game on their own (especially the part where David Bowie has a pretty big part in it) but it just didn't manage to come together in a way that kept me around.

I can't say it's a bad game though, because it really isn't. The whole idea that it's not actually a game and you as a "player" is actually sucked into the world of Omikron to save it from some sort of demon is actually a really fun and interesting one. Maybe I just got stuck too often. If I have to resort to a walkthrough too much, I'm not really playing the game anyway, am I? I might as well just watch a LP of it, because that is basically what I am doing anyway. So, that is what I might just do. But finish this game, I will not.