Singing for their supper, and to save the world.
Compile Heart’s first foray onto the PlayStation 4 is certainly an interesting one, but it is not like the developer to shy away from a quirky setting. Fans of Compile Heart’s previous work will likely have an idea what to expect in their PS4 JRPG – cute girls, anime humour, involving combat mechanics and questionable camera angles. But were the fans expecting a game with pop singers that have to fight monsters? Yeah, probably…
Set in the future, the world has been overrun by monsters known as the Blare, and humanity has been forced into small pockets of survivors. Their only hope happens to be Verse Maidens, singers who can fight the monsters through magical powers and big weapons. The Verse Maidens also happen to be strengthened by the adoration of their audience, which is as good a reason as any to broadcast encounters and gain the public’s support.
However, as the last active Verse Maiden prepares for retirement, a new generation of young girls step forward to take up the reins, along with the player taking the role of Takt, the team manager. Under the guidance of the player, the growing team of Verse Maidens are set to fight monsters and perform their little hearts out.
The story in Omega Quintet never really expands beyond the whole “let’s fight monsters” stage into anything deeper, but there is a fair amount of back story for the various characters to uncover along the way, and relationships to build between the characters. The characters themselves are all quite likable, albeit fairly cookie cutter in their creation, with one exception – the player’s character of Takt. For some reason, this particular character is unlikable from the beginning and just irritates as the game goes on, with an overdose of sarcasm and a seeming lack of interest in anything.
Still, the story and characters are likely not the driving reasons for fans picking up this game. That reason will surely be the feature rich combat system, and Omega Quintet doesn’t disappoint.
The combat is turn-based and manages to pack in a massive number of different mechanics for the player to learn. These are all explained fairly well, although there does end up being a lot of information for the player to digest. With a plethora of combos, modifiers, abilities and delays to mess around with and trigger, gamers who enjoy exploring the intricacies and mastering a complex combat system will be truly happy here. That being said, the good news for the less hardcore gamer is that Omega Quintet is not one of those games that force the player to learn and master all of the mechanics, and playing through without mastering all of the different systems is perfectly possible.
Outside of combat, there are sidequests to pick up and events to engage in, and some fairly massive open areas for the player to explore. The environments are nicely varied, but players will find themselves wandering aimlessly quite regularly thanks to a slightly less than helpful quest marker system. There is also a rather nice character progression system, plenty of options for customisation and even a fairly hefty crafting system in place to entertain the player.
Then there is the alarmingly entertaining PVS mode in which players are able to create music videos. Yeah, the mode may be an unexpected extra and entirely optional, but it also happens to be rather good. Players are able to setup, edit and upload videos set to the included songs using the various idols. Everything can be tweaked, from the costumes and camera angles, to the stage and even which singer sings which line of the song. Anyone who wants to indulge their inner pop producer will likely get their money’s worth from this mode alone.
Visually, it seems that Compile Heart have done little to take advantage of the PS4’s increased power, with Omega Quintet looking like it would be quite happy on the PS3. The cut scenes are nice and crisp, but when venturing into the gameplay, the visuals are just unimpressive.
Omega Quintet really is a mixed bag. Whilst Compile Heart fans will find a lot to enjoy here, any who have only dipped their toes into JRPGs will likely find themselves wondering what the hell is going on. I must say that the music video creation mode is really fun, but even that is only going to appeal to the smallest subsection of gamers. In all, if you are desperately waiting for a JRPG on your shiny PS4, Omega Quintet is a bit left field but may entertain. Otherwise, unless you want to make music videos, it may be best to see what Compile Heart offers next.