Omega Quintet (PC) Review – Predictable but Adorable
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4
Developers: Compile Heart, Ghostlight (PC)
Publisher: Ghostlight (PC)
Release: 15th December 2017 (PC)
Neptunia is without a doubt Compile Heart´s most known series, running since 2010 and conquering the hearts of thousands of gamers with its silly characters combined with a fun, casual combat. However, besides Neptunia the Japanese developer also produces a wide variety of other games, like Omega Quintet, which just so happened to get a PC port from Ghostlight Games. What a perfect opportunity to shed some light on this very surprising JRPG.
The world is at its end, destroyed by the devastating Blare, humanity is reduced to 20.000 in a single city and only one group can protect them, the Verse Maidens. Girls similar to Idols just with the addition of being able to battle the Blare. Fueled by their audience´s admiration those five girls have to protect the last remnants of a once proud race.
Sadly, the depressive atmosphere established in the intro and everywhere else is quickly forgotten in the actual game dominating dialogues. Naturally, the plot isn´t worth talking about either, since it follows the typical formula of every “cute girl do cute things”, serving solely as a frame for the true action. Typical for Compile Heart, the cast of five “battle idols” is as silly, flat and cliché-y as it gets. There aren´t many character developments or deep personalities, instead Omega Quintet bursts with funny writing and constant references to the Japanese idol culture.
Here may also lie a big issue for most of the jokes, they often seem to reference typical clichés of said culture. Personally, I´m not too familiar with it and actually understood a very tiny amount of what looked like jokes, because, well, I didn´t get the punchline. In comparison, Neptunia does a way better job at using the video game market as the foundation for its jokes, resulting in a way funnier game, thanOmega Quintet could ever be.
For a game relying so heavily on comedy, the girls may still server their purpose but lose a lot of bite during the game without working jokes. Additionally, the game is surprisingly told from the perspective of Takt, a friend/manager of the girls and damn is he useless. First of all, during the whole game, he almost never contributes anything than annoying opinions. He doesn´t serve a purpose, doesn´t enrich the dialogues nor is essential in any way, but somehow, he´s still there. I think the reasoning behind implementing an annoying protagonist like Takt can only be explained by Compile Heart. If you play Compile Heart for the story, Omega Quintet may not offer the best one but should satisfy any idol fan.
On the other hand, the combat system may very well be the most complex and best ever seen in Compile Heart´s games. It´s basically a classic turn-based JRPG battle system with the focus on rather special systems. Every Verse Maiden is equipped with one of the five weapon classes, each having their own range, stats and special effects. Especially “range” is a very important stat as it indicates the range between the monster and Maiden, in theory, and depending on the weapon, more or less damage is inflicted. This is, of course, happening alongside the typical status alignments and turn orders.
Speaking of turns, the main goal in Omega Quintet´s combat is actually not giving the enemy any opportunity to strike back. By combining weapons, that gain additional attacks per round as they level up, the range and element stats, it´s possible to stun enemies, give the Maidens additional speed because they effectively attack weaknesses and all this sweet stuff. At first, the overload of different things is easily overwhelming but once you got a grip on the basics, most of it happens almost naturally, since the combat almost flows like a song.
Accidentally, idol songs also play a huge role in the combat! Between battles, it´s possible to customize the so-called Voltage bar, the special attack gauge, with all kinds of bonuses. Divided into five different power stages, each can be assigned three boosts, ranging from mere passive bonuses to powerful special attacks. During fights, the bar can be risen by killing monsters while making use of previously explained mechanics. Once it reaches a certain point, it´s even possible to unleash a powerful “musical” attack, as I like to call it, where all five girls dress up, sing a song and deal some devastating damage.
The huge array of customizability, mixed with the motivating, beautiful special attacks, actively promote the quite complicated base combat. Fighting stylish and making use of the different systems is a great deal of fun and easily overshadows everything Neptunia or other games tried so far. Even though I might not be a big Idol fan, the music attacks or other influences implemented into the gameplay are fun, challenging and totally unique.
Otherwise, the overall design stayed identical to other Compile Hearts games. Missions still consist of mainly running through linear levels, defeat some monsters, reach the boss and then find out you need to grind some more. If you´re not a big fan of grinding, like me, you may switch to the easy difficulty sooner or later, since the requirement for grinding is decreasing drastically with it.
Between missions, it´s possible to expand the relationship with the five different girls, which sadly never reveals a lot more than another cliché or jokes you might not understand. Though it´s still fun at most times to spend some time with those silly, adorable characters.
The trend of unsurprising features continues in the visuals, as Omega Quintet is clearly not an impressive looking game, despite the fact it launched exclusively on PS4. Models look undetailed or mushy, textures are plain and everything just looks pretty undetailed. On the other hand, the art continues to look great, menus and special effects, in particular, can shine as well, due to their heavy music influences and stylish design. The fact Compile Heart implemented some real idol songs into the game is great as well, due to the added immersion and they simply sound pretty neat. The good PC port with 4K support helps to let the mediocre graphics shine though!
Omega Quintet may certainly not reinvent Compile Heart´s formula not surpass their all-time “classic” Neptunia. Nonetheless, it can offer one of the best combat systems of all their games and tackles a very interesting theme. Nonetheless, to fully enjoy it, you will need to be well acquainted with the Japanese idol history. In the end, I enjoyed playing it, despite the many flaws in its writing or design.
[A Review Code was provided by Ghostlight]