GAME OF THE WEEK
"The textures that stretch over the skeletal models are so smooth and realistic, that convincing emotions can be portrayed. "
Killer graphics, reincarnation and Bowie. Dude, this is the kind of game we'll play with a black light on
There are certain elements of sci-fi title that never get old, no matter how many times we see them. Hoverbikes and scantily clad European women are futuristic mainstays, and for good, obvious reasons. In Omikron: The Nomad Soul, you get your soul sucked out your nostrils and through the monitor into the world of Kay'l, the nomad soul. Omikron is a 3D adventure game, punctuated with intense, complicated action scenes and beautiful, sweeping graphics.
It's amazing how many sci-fi efforts owe a debt to Blade Runner, and its influence in this game will be visible early on. That's not to say that is bad thing; Omikron puts you in the uncomfortable position of overwhelming loneliness in a vast, faceless city. Alone with your suit of armor and stylish haircut, you have to piece together who you are, where you are, and what you are supposed to be doing. It's up to you to decide how to make sense of this world, and sometimes you have to solve puzzles, and other times you have to shatter jawbones. Quantic Dream, the game's developers, have put a lot of effort into making this a two-fisted adventure game. The fights you get into are not just simple find-and-click affairs, but feature real-time 3D combat using actual martial arts moves. There are even dojos and shooting ranges to help you sharpen your skills.
The designers intentionally wanted a world the opens up as the player explorers it. As you move through the story, layers of magic and mysticism float up to the surface. You discover a world of underground resistance, gathered to stop an monstrous evil bent on enslaving the souls of the city. Strangely, it seems like it is the soul of the city itself that needs saving. The beautiful 3D accelerated environments, features complex traffic patters, realistic interaction with NPCs and day/night cycles in real-time. Don't be surprised if you find yourself walking around aimlessly, fascinated by this glowing, eldritch world.
Omikron features one of the latest trends in video games: reincarnation (both Legacy of Kain and Planescape: Torment make death an impossibility). If your character dies, you can't reincarnate until your body is touched by another, appropriating their statistics and possessions. Cleverly, you'll have to employ other bodies to achieve certain goals or explore new areas. One of the strongest features of the game is that you experience it from a variety of perspectives, never trapped in the same hollow shell.
The nuts and bolts of the game (the graphics and sound) are really what hold the whole story together. The characters are marvelously life-like, with motion captured faces that correspond to real-time voices. The textures that stretch over the skeletal models are so smooth and realistic, that convincing emotions can be portrayed. The camera system is elegant at some times and dramatic at others; when you move from inside a new room for the first time, the camera will swing around, showing you a new angle that reveals important information about your surroundings.
Finally, there is the glass spider himself: Bowie. Originally, he was asked to license some of his previous work for the game. But after he looked into the game and its ingenious premise, he decide to provide several original tracks for the game, one of which will be an upcoming single. And as if that weren't enough, the man himself appears in the game as the mysterious BOZ. In the game, you'll be able to go to a BOZ show, or buy some BOZ music to play back at your ratty apartment. Heck, they even got his delicious wife Imam to be a basis for one of the characters. Cool.
- Jim Preston