If there’s one genre that’s been slow in making its way to new generation consoles, it’s the Japanese RPG. With Persona 5, Final Fantasy XV and Disgaea 5 all on their way later this year, Compile Hearts’ Omega Quintet aims to make a splash by being the first traditional JRPG exclusive to the Playstation 4.
Alongside Fairy Fencer F, these titles make up the Galapagos RPG project designed to develop new Japanese style RPGs specifically for a Japanese audience. However, the real question is: can a Western audience appreciate Omega Quintet as much as Compile Heart believes their Japanese audience does?
The game opens up by introducing us to a unique world where idols known as Verse Maidens must defend the world from evil creatures known as Blare. These monsters are sapping the life from humanity and the only way the world can be saved is through the power of these Verse Maidens battling live on camera.
It’s a strange premise and Omega Quintet doesn’t manage to pull it off to its full extent as the danger is not shown in any real or compelling way outside of copious amounts of text dialogue, but the idol aesthetic is generally one of the game’s more compelling parts, however. Whilst it makes little effort to contextualize it within this apocalyptic world, it opens up and attempts a discussion on idol culture within Japan, touching on ideas such as the rules, debuts, retirement and public image.
It’s just that these ideas, concepts and narrative are buried deep within a place where nobody dares look: On screen text. Omega Quintet features a ridiculous amount of dialogue in order to get its basic points across. However, most of this is just fluff and the game takes far too long to say so little. It’s obsessed with building character connections through long, drawn-out conversations that halt any real progression and add nothing to the experience. Beyond the occasional original image, this text is accompanied with some basic character art with little to no motion in traditional JRPG style.
Everything about Omega Quintet just seems stuck in the past. It makes no effort to bring something new to this generation and it feels wholly out place. It’s passable for a Playstation 3 game with low quality textures, basic models and empty, uninteresting environments. There’s nothing in this game that particularly stands out as visually impressive and our only example of any real animation is within the battles and even then, we’re getting stiff character motion and low quality effects.
Thankfully, these issues don’t carry into the music as this game has an impressive soundtrack with compelling battle themes and eerie stage tracks. Unfortunately in battles, this is covered up by constant character exclamations by a mostly anime voice cast. It ends up as a pure distraction and there’s very little reason to keep voice audio switched on.
With that said, Omega Quintet does feature an engaging battle system that puts the rest of the game to shame. Based around the idea that your opponents are a certain distance away from you, you will need to execute specific attacks based on that distance. Therefore, just based on the location of the enemy, certain characters within your party may have an advantage and it constantly works to change up the way you fight instead of falling into repetition. You also have the power to change the distance of some opponents through specific attacks, leading you to change how you approach certain challenges. It’s a compelling approach to strategic battles and whilst the attacks themselves are pretty basic, it is definitely one of the highlights of the title.
Overall, Omega Quintet just fails to impress in any meaningful way. It has an interesting battle system and an engaging soundtrack, yet so many other factors leave it in the dust. A large part of the game consists of reading useless text, the worlds don’t feel like any sort of environment and just exist as walkways to your next location. It’s bland in so many ways and offers no real draw for the player outside of the combat. For those that do end up picking this title up and don’t want to get trapped in the endless dialogue, press square. Just keep pressing square.
This review was based on a digital review copy of Omega Quintet for the Playstation 4 provided by Idea Factory International.