Having played all of Idea Factory International’s recent releases, it’s safe to say I’m a little Hyperdimension Neptunia’d out. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with that turn-based series, just that fans might be looking for something else to satisfy their anime-fueled JRPG itch. Omega Quintet is a brand new title (potentially a series?) which also happens to be exclusive to the PS4. With a new game developed by Galapagos RPG we’ve got a shot at something entirely new here. After having sunk a few dozens hours into the game it’s easy to see this is a surprisingly in-depth strategic experience.
The storyline is about as cutesy as you’d expect. The world is in a wretched stage with vicious monsters known as Blare terrorizing humanity. As people have cowered in fear, a few spectacular young women were born to fight back. Known as Verse Maidens these powerful teen to twenty-somethings use the power of music (and swords and guns) to defeat them. Oh, and they’re also literal idols that the citizens worship both as saviors and pop musical artists. It’s fun to see this concept in action as it reveals the idols to be anything but their perky, perfect image.
In any case, some might find themselves glossing over the storyline despite its sometimes atypical characters simply to get to more quests. You see, the combat in Omega Quintet is ridiculously involved and seems like a dream for strategy-minded players. Your team of idols must fight against enemies while keeping track of distance. Basically, each character’s weapon (and attack) carries a range of effectiveness. If a monster is standing in the most effective range then they’ll get walloped the worst. If they sit in the non-effective range, however, then the attack will be completely meaningless. Beyond that you’ve also got to keep track of attack types (wind, water, fire, etc) and try to match them with enemy weaknesses.
This is only the start of topics players must keep in mind while fighting. There’s tons more nuance involved, and unfortunately it seems the game is unable to present it elegantly. Instead players are simply inundated with PowerPoint styled explanations which still gloss over the system’s finer points. Over ten hours later I was still getting explanations thrown at me. With that said, simply engaging in battles against the Blare serves an effective tutor itself. It just might take some time to get all those systems under control.
So Omega Quintet comes packed with a intense battle system – but what about all this “idol” stuff? Is there anything here for those who are interested in playing purely for this thematic element? It depends, although there are some features meant to cater to these folks. There’s a whole costume system which allows you to tweak each character’s idol uniform as you see fit. Another surprise is an entire music video (known as Promotional Video System/PVS in game) editing mode. In this mode you’re free to choreograph dances, position characters and cameras and basically create an entire video for fun. The tools are easy enough to use quickly but it seems difficult to actually create something that looks awesome without real effort.
One question that many will no doubt end up asking is “why is this on PS4?” When compared to other PS4 titles it certainly doesn’t look all that great. Honestly, recent PS3 JRPG releases look just as good. The only thing that seems to tip it into PS4 territory is the inclusion of that highly responsive and detailed PVS editor. Without that editor’s inclusion, there’d probably be no challenge running it on PS3 (and possibly even Vita with a few graphical tweaks). In any case, there’s no sign any ports are underway.
The game is pulled in many different directions, and it’s hard to say with certainty just yet whether this is for the better or not. Fighting is definitely made interesting by a huge dose of tactical considerations, but the storyline seems to have trouble divorcing itself from stereotypes. Then there’s that entire PVS mode which could have been further expanded as a game of its own. Omega Quintet is interesting, but it remains to be seen if “interesting” is enough to keep players enthralled in the long run. Be sure to check back soon for our final verdict on Omega Quintet.