Inside Pulse 12

Review: Omega Quintet (Sony PlayStation 4)

omegaqcoverOmega Quintet
Publisher: Compile Heart
Developer: Idea Factory
Genre: RPG
Release Date: 04/28/2015

Compile Heart has become known for publishing a certain type of RPG. They are often overly complicated turn based affairs with an anime style and a penchant for fan service. This kind of game might not be mainstream, but it certainly has its fans. Omega Quintet is their latest offering, developed by the people behind Fairy Fencer F. That game showed a lot of promise, so there was hope that OQ could keep the momentum going. Sadly, this game is all fluff and no substance. Even more distressing, it’s a game about Japanese idols that has almost nothing to do with singing and dancing. If you’re going to go with a certain theme, you should at least bother to try and stick to it.

As they story goes, a dark force called Blare has pretty much wiped all of humanity out. Throughout the years, mankind has been forced to retreat, until all that remains are a few isolated cities. Fortunately, the power of the Verse Maidens was discovered. Verse Maidens are young girls and women who can channel the power of song into a weapon that can defeat the Blare. Seriously, they gotta be young, as the power wanes as they get older. Anyway, these Verse Maidens become saviors of the cities, able to protect the last vestiges of the human race.

Omega Quintet_20150205104349This particular game follows the course of five new Verse Maiden recruits. For most of the game, it’s basically a light-hearted anime. It’s about the girls getting to know each other, becoming a team, and occasionally stopping to fight giant monsters. All the archetypes are present: there’s the young girl with the inferiority complex, the shy one, the rowdy one, the serious one, and the oddball who pretends she’s a cat when things get awkward. Okay, maybe that last one is a little atypical. There’s also the POV character, who serves as the team manager and prerequisite potential love interest. Of course, he fills another archetype as well, which is that of the perpetually annoyed dude who only shows the slightest bit of caring when things really hit the fan.

Honestly, it’s dull. Story sequences are overlong and feature the characters constantly repeating themselves. The overall plot doesn’t even start to go anywhere until over halfway through the game, and even then it doesn’t really pick up until the final third. There’s no villain to play off of, so you’re left with the faceless Blare as the only foil for the experience. Oh, and of course, the game has a couple different endings so you’re encouraged to go through the whole thing again. It’s standard fare.

I’ve mentioned this already, but this is supposedly a game about group of girls who fight monsters with singing and dancing. The story brings this up often, with the girls practicing their skills being a constant thing. However, the girls pretty much never sing throughout the entire game. During story scenes, the text might say “Ah” or something. That’s all you get, and then the characters will speak up to say how lovely it sounded. It’s ridiculous. There are actually songs in the game, but they’re relegated to an alternate mode where you create music videos. The only time songs can be heard during the actual gameplay is during the use of a mechanic called “Live Concert Mode”. However, this just plays the song in the background while you get various buffs. That’s it.

Omega Quintet_20150205104236As the first Compile Heart game on the PS4, you might think OQ would represent a new leap forward in terms of presentation. Wrong. The game looks blocky, has terrible textures, and still uses basic character portraits and text boxes. Sure, the characters “breath,” but that that’s often just an excuse to show breasts moving. This looks like a PS2 game, and it’s not even budgeted as one. You’re expected to pay full price for this. The audio fares better, although a couple of the vocal performances are just off. Aria, in particular, is painful to listen to as she takes about half an hour to say a single sentence. At least the music is solid, with the idol songs in particular giving the game a major lift during the few occasions when they are actually around.

OQ has a lot of mechanics and rules, to the point where you’ll spend much of the game going through tutorials about all there is. For example, each weapon type has an effective range, you can manipulate battle position, certain attacks will cause your characters to get their turn later, and so on. It all seems too much at first, but you’ll quickly come to see how much of it is fluff, at least on the normal difficulty setting. The truth is you can simply abuse your super moves to wipe out every enemy on the screen at once while earning massive bonuses to experience and earned items. It’s an easily abused system.

Omega Quintet_20150401132921Much like similar games, you move freely on a map until you run into an enemy. Instead of random encounters, you have to physically interact with enemies on the field. Hitting them first gives you an advantage, and the same goes for them. You can end up fighting one enemy or over a dozen depending on your luck. Combat boils down to using action points to string attacks and skills together in the most efficient way possible. As you weapon proficiency levels up, you’ll get more actions to spend per turn, and leveling up gives you points to unlock skills via a wheel. There are two different skills in the game. Regular skills use elemental properties such as wind and fire to target weaknesses and deal damage. There are also various buff and healing skills. Mic skills, on the other hand, utilize your equipped weapon to deal extra damage.

The game has a few tricky mechanics to keep things interesting. Landing hits builds up a voltage meter, which is used as currency to use super attacks and team abilities. You can spend voltage to activate “Harmonics”, which allows all of your maidens in line for a turn to act at once. Doing so allows you to cast powerful chain skills, as long as you have one maiden cast each part of that skill. Live Concert plays a song while you get buffs for a while. Your voltage meter will drop to zero if even one maiden falls in battle though. Also, the team manager can team with a maiden to add extra attacks that slow an opponent as well as offer up additional defense. Enemies also have shields that can be broken in order to deal more damage. Smaller enemies will likely die before you can get this shield down, but it’s an essential tactic against bosses. Finally, the girls’ dresses can be shredded. You’ll lose the bonuses of any gear you have equipped if this happens, and you’ll have to spend money to get them repaired. Yep. It’s that kind of game.

Omega Quintet_20150401123532There are a number of problems here. Quests are made out to be optional, whereas missions move your forward in the story. However, some missions will ask you to go to areas you won’t have access to unless you’ve cleared out certain quests. The ending you get also depends on your quest completion rate. It’s very possible to get stuck in this game without any way to move forward. Many of the quests are damn near impossible to complete as well, as they ask you to go to some area you can’t reach because you haven’t earned a reward from another quest that hasn’t even become available. The game does offer a number of ways to customize your characters, and you can change out hair, eye color, weapon types, and outfits. The superficial changes are whatever, but switching up weapons is a bad idea. Your ability in battle is limited to the number of actions you take, and changing weapons means dropping down to taking fewer actions. Unless you spend hours grinding for experience, that character is going to be weakened. There’s also the problem of repetition. You only have a small office and the maps to explore. The city you’re trying to save can’t be explored in any way. Though citizens give you quests, they do so on a bland map and are represented by thumbnail images. So you’re left with an endless cycle of going to the same locations to battle the same monsters until something moves you forward.

On the whole, the game is not enjoyable. The gameplay is needlessly complicated while still being mostly automatic, the presentation is behind the times, and the story goes nowhere until it’s too late. Even if all you’re here for is the fan service, you’ll be let down. There are, dare I say, “better” options out there.

Short Attention Span Summary

diehardjack1-150x150Omega Quintet commits a number of sins. I’m not talking about the revealing outfits on teenage girls or jiggling breasts on otherwise static images either. It’s just not a good game. Battling is both too much and too little at once. While there are many mechanics at play, you can just mash the confirm button a lot to win most of the time. The story features a bunch of archetypes standing around and chatting about nothing. Then you have the presentation. Not only is is outdated, but it features almost no singing and dancing in a game about characters who sing and dance. That’s this game in a nut shell.

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  • Asdasd

    Ah, idea fuck. Where spreadsheets go to metastasise.

    This was a good review. It made me feel like I’ve already spent twenty hours playing the game, which is twenty hours well saved.