Game: Omen Exitio Plague
Genre: Horror/Visual Novel/ RPG/ Adventure
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer|Publisher: Tiny Bull Studios| Forever Entertainment SA
Age Rating: M (US)| 16+ (EU)
Price: US $9.99 | AU $ 15.00| CA $ 12.59| £8.99 |€10.45
Release Date: 19th September 2019
Review code was kindly supplied by Forever Entertainment SA.
An Atmospheric, Lovecraft-esque horror RPG
Omen Exitio Plague is an atmospheric, Lovecraft-esque horror RPG that plays in the same way that older “graphic novels” used to play before they were modernised to what we see today. This playbook style makes for an amazingly retro experience, your story unfolding through the rustic pages of a diary, accompanied by some of the most atmospheric music that I have experienced on a small scale game such as this one.
For the purposes of this review, I am going to attempt to be obscure about the story details or some of the text that I encounter. This is purely because there are so many different play throughs that you can achieve and I don’t want to spoil it for you lovely readers! So please forgive me if I sound like I’m dancing around some details – it’s purely so you can enjoy the game the way I have!
You are part of a bigger experience…
Omen Exitio Plague feels like an interactive, diary based story should, with neatly drawn images to guide you on your story quest. Any quirky little images of characters or surroundings really do help in this game, as without them I believe it would be quite a dull experience. This, coupled with the page movement animations and change in music tempo at apt moments, does make you feel as though you are part of a bigger experience than just flicking through pages of a story.
You are introduced to your character, Jake Huntington, a doctor and researcher from the mainland, currently aboard an army vessel on an army tour to Zanzibar. It is made clear that you are only acting the soldier; your instincts are based on healing rather than maiming, and this only adds to the air of mystery. You are on that boat to forget your past, forget a mistake and, perhaps, lose your mind in the process.
This is a game of choices, and the dialogue gives you plenty to consider before you make your decisions. However, soon after you find out you are on the vessel, you are thrown into the deep end with a slew of choices.
The first choice you are given introduces you to Ed O’Bannon, an Irish boy of 16 who has a bit of a drinking problem. Problem being the keyword here. With the options of Indulge or Ignore, I chose to ignore him, and go to bed. Whilst I am sure that I would have gained some more information about what particular reason put me on this path in the first place by choosing to indulge him, I don’t want the game to entirely handhold me, and I would like to see how much the game gives me from me making choices I would make in real life, as opposed to the ones that are logical in the gaming sense.
Keep an eye on those SkillPoints!
At this point in the early stages of the game, I felt like I wanted to explore the menus of the game – and I’m glad I did! One of my pet peeves with playbook style games is not having all the options/settings unlocked from the beginning of the game. Thankfully, from the first page of dialogue, Omen Exitio Plague allows you to access and have a little nosy into the different menus and sub menus that you have at your disposal. The globe, although self explanatory, opens up a map that displays areas of interest, or places that you have visited in the past. There’s your inventory, character list, your character profile and, finally, your skillpoint chart.
You gain experience points from meeting new characters on your journey and from the choices that are presented to you, although it is not made clear at this stage what these skillpoints will do for you, it is clear that they will impact your journey.
It is worth noting that it is important to pay attention to your skillpoints. Whilst you want to make decisions based on what you would feel in real life, certainly for your first go at it, if you are lacking skillpoints in certain areas the game dialogue punishes* you for it. For example, if you do not have a good level of Speechcraft you are unable to talk people down, persuade them or hide the truth. Of course, this gives the game the diversity it needs each time you play it, but if you’re looking for a more rounded experience then I would recommend keeping an eye on those points!
*Don’t be worried if you do end up lacking on one or two areas, however, because if you do “fail” at using a skill within the game narrative you can still progress, but perhaps not in the direction that you intended!
Minor continuity errors…
However, I cannot entirely sing the games’ praises, as there are some ever so slight niggles that, whilst they don’t entirely inhibit the enjoyability of the game, they do intrude on the flow of the game. For an interactive book game, the text is key. That much should be obvious. Whilst, as I said earlier, the game is extremely well written, there are slight errors in the text, such as capital letters where they aren’t supposed to be, appearing in the middle of lower case words, and other spelling mistakes that pop up every now and again.
There are also some minor continuity errors, which confuses the game in some respects. An example of this is when I made a choice to do X option, I would get the text from if I had chosen Y option, which left my uncertain as to whether I’d performed a mis-click or whether I had actually chosen the outcome that I wanted.
Finally, in terms of playability, I would have loved the touch screen function to be…well…a little more functional I guess? Whilst the option does work, I found myself having to press it up to three times via the touch screen and, if you just use the touch screen, it doesn’t show you what skill points (if any) you will earn from choosing the other options. If it happens to work on the first touch then that’s it, decision made, no going back. Whereas on some pages I find myself having to tap it multiple times, which makes for frustrating gameplay. Therefore, I would suggest using a pro controller or your JoyCons for a more streamlined gaming experience, and so that you get a chance to read the sub-dialogue that the choices give you.
All in all, these are very minor issues in themselves, but I thought that they were noteworthy if, like me, you prefer to play your spooky choose-your-destiny games in handheld mode!
Omen Exitio Plague is worth every penny and, if you like your Lovecraft style horror, this is definitely worth your time. It’s a slow start that builds into something so much more. The game offers a deep level of re-playability, which is nothing to be sniffed at; the game is interesting enough that I would definitely consider another playthrough!!
Final Verdict: I like it!