Omen Exitio: Plague – A Good Book
Omen Exitio: Plague
I’m not a big fan of visual novels. If I’m looking to read, I prefer a regular old paperback. If I’m looking to play a game that’s fairly stress-free, I’ll go for something like Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon. Still, when an opportunity presents itself to try something new, I have to take it. A choose your own adventure book intrigued me, even though I have previously never heard of Omen Exitio: Plague. Never having the chance to try a choose your own adventure book in my youth, I was excited to give it a try. For a while, I was optimistic. The story initially drew me in, but unfortunately, I could not get into it. The minimalist design gets old after 20 minutes and a video game with minor RPG elements isn’t enough if you’re reading for the majority of it.
Players take on the persona of Jack Huntington, a doctor in the 1890’s who lost his wife to an unknown disease – something he was unable to save her from. He enlists in the British army to try and forget about the previous life he had lost. As the story continues his health, his mind, starts to turn as paranoia takes over. Is it only paranoia, or is something more sinister lurking out there? As most of the game is narratively driven, I won’t spoil much. While the story is decent enough, I had issues with the characters. I wish they were voiced – it would add some desperately needed emotions. Also, there were one too many spelling errors, which is really bad when your entire game is based on it being novel-like.
A Certain kind of horror
Gameplay is extremely limited in Omen Exitio. There are four screens, a map, the story, character notes and inventory, and Jack’s info screen. Tapping R or L swaps between them but you’ll be on the story screen for the most part. Jack has six stats available to him that come into play when certain situations arise. These stats can all be leveled up with experience gained from continuing forward with the story. Many of the choices you make revolve around these stats; I failed many of these. There’s no indication as to how successful a skill check can be and I’m not used to it. Games like Fallout and Skyrim, which are filled with skill checks, either give you a percentage of success or deny you entirely. Giving the player more information is always a good thing, as I thoroughly missed having that information in Omen Exitio.
Instant death is not in Omen Exitio, unlike many of the choose your own adventure books. In fact, I’m not sure death there at all. I frequently tried to make poor decisions and kill myself just to see what would happen. Each time I miraculously survived; neither being in the middle of a burning building or a sinking ship would do it. I get why this isn’t included, but at the same time, it took all stakes away from the game. Game overs are okay and while this is a different kind of video game, there are ways to get around this like different difficulties or customizable options. If you can make poor decisions with no consequences, the game can’t create enough tension to hold a player.
Hard to hold onto
In terms of design, there’s not much to go on. Characters and locations have black and white sketches to help paint a scene. Many of the characters don’t at all fit their personality. You should never judge a book by its cover The music is eerie and fits the tone of the game perfectly. It’s a shame there’s not a larger variety, as the background music becomes repetitive the longer you play. Also, the map screen holds little to no purpose. Yes, it tells you your location and shows an obscured map of the area you currently are, but I never needed to know this information. There are a few instances where the map is used to select a specific location over another. Each time this occurred, you end up visiting both locations and realize there’s no real choice to be made. I hardly ended up using the information
At the end of the day, a decent narrative isn’t enough to make a great video game. It doesn’t help that I’m not a huge H.P Lovecraft fan, but even if I was, I still would not enjoy Omen Exitio: Plague. The gameplay is boring and while much of the game gives the player choices, sometimes it felt as if it didn’t matter what I chose. Omen Exitio would be a perfect point and click adventure game and not a choose your own adventure book. With all that said, Tiny Bull Studios has created a story and experience that requires minimal mechanics and I applaud the effort and creative designs they took.
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Reviewed on the Nintendo Switch by Taylor. Game provided by Forever Entertainment.