Despite the PlayStation 3 and more recently the PlayStation Vita being the go-to platforms for JRPGs, Western JRPG fans have been left sitting in the cold when it comes to JRPGs on the PlayStation 4. Although the console has already been on the market for over a year, fans have been waiting for developers to bring new JRPGs to the system and now Compile Heart’s Omega Quintet is the first game out of the gate. With Omega Quintet being a bit different from Compile Heart’s flagship Hyperdimension Neptunia series, is the title worth picking up?
The world of Omega Quintet is on the brink of destruction due to creatures called Blare that began appearing year’s prior and nearly eliminated mankind. With standard attacks being largely ineffective against these creatures, all hope seemed lost until powerful ladies capable of wielding special abilities came forth with the power to eliminate the Blare.
These women were called Verse Maidens and for years they have been seen as idols to the public they protect. As time passed only one of the original Verse Maiden’s Momoka managed to hold onto her powers despite her age, however it was becoming increasingly apparent that her retirement was approaching and that a new generation of Voice Maidens are needed.
Enter the Momoka idolizing Otoha and her childhood friend Takuto, nicknamed Takt, who often tries to keep her in check despite not being overly interested in Verse Maidens himself. After an incident occurs during the latest Blare attack Otoha finds herself accepted as a new Verse Maiden, joining Nene and Kanadeko, two other Verse Maidens, who have barely spent any time out in the field. The party starts rather small, players find themselves joined by the rest of the main cast in short order as the girls try to push back any Blare attacks while defending the populace.
It is interesting to note that while there are a few jabs at the industry here and there; Omega Quintet plays the idol role of the characters almost completely straight. Despite not making fun of the idol industry’s practices, other than pestering the retiring Momoka about her actual age, there is still quite a bit of comedy found within the story but this mostly comes from the characters as they interact with one another as each girl is a perfect fit for an idol group trope, with Otoha being the cheerful but ditzy leader, Kanadeko appearing as a tomboy, Nene serving as the soft-spoken and timid girl with a penchant for violence, Kyouka as the serious but easily flustered girl, and Aria as the oft monotone member with a mysterious aura.
Despite being fairly predictable as far as character developments and interactions go, Omega Quintet’s delivers a decent storyline with quite a few challenges to overcome if you wish to aim for the “True Ending” to the storyline. One of the required challenges is to develop Takuto’s relationship with each of the characters by serving as their bodyguard and manager during battle and interacting with them when certain scenes are unlocked. These sequences generally are comedic with a dose of fan-service but do give players a different look at each character’s personality, though it does feel as if Takuto’s inclusion in the story could have been handled better overall.
Omega Quintet may be a turn based RPG with dungeon exploration where enemies roam the field and can be either avoided or attacked early for a turn advantage in battle, but it is a far different experience than those who are familiar with their key franchise will be familiar with. This is entirely due to the complex battle system that features a number of different mechanics as well as a few idol related side-activities that fans can easily lose hours of time in if they wish to get technical.
Once players enter battle they will find themselves lined up against a certain number of enemies. Depending on what weapons your Verse Maidens are using, each character will have a certain range of effectiveness. Unlike most games that don’t allow movement on the field, players will need to plan accordingly when it comes to attacking certain enemies as distance does play a factor into how effective a blow will be and their chances of actually landing the skill. The range of effectiveness is displayed via a colorful chart for every attack and even shows how the percentages change which is useful considering how long some of the boss battles can go on for.
It is interesting to note that players can also slide their party members around the field before entering battle to better make use of their weaponry. For example, if a character is using a rifle then the majority of their skills will be more effective at a longer range and should be placed accordingly via party set up. That being said, it is also worth noting that every character can use any type of weapon in the game, though considering each character has different weapon proficiencies (allowing for multiple attacks and increased damage at higher levels) it is better to keep it as is. If you do happen to change things up then you’ll also be able to take advantage of the many skills and abilities that players will unlock for their Verse Maidens using a leveling grid that features unlockable nodes with stat boosts, skills, magic, and even finishing attacks.
Making the battle system a little bit more detailed are “Flash Effects” which randomly occur during certain turns. These effects range from boosts to debuffs and even status effects so players will need to keep an eye on that while also managing how many attacks and skills they should use at any given time. You see, while a single attack may only move a character’s turn order back a short amount, unleashing a barrage of skills will delay their next turn quite a bit and potentially leave them open for a beating by the enemy.
Thankfully, since players can pair Takt with one Verse Maiden, allowing Takt to jump in and attack often pushes back the targeted enemy’s turn which is useful considering the various gauges that play a factor in the game’s special “Live Mode” system. Entering a live mode by utilizing the voltage gauge, filled by defeating enemies, allows players to often perform consecutive attacks that result in long combo chains and high levels of damage allowing for the devastation of an opponent who may have been dangerous.
This makes the combat system in Omega Quintet far deeper than it initially appears as it will require quite a bit of mastery to tackle certain opponents if you don’t wish to grind away at levels to simply overcome them by pure force. As for the actual areas players will be exploring, they are impressively though a large amount of the maps are initially gated off by roadblocks that can only be overcome by leveling up a character’s exploration abilities which can be tedious and potentially lock a player out of a side-quest if they haven’t properly unlocked the ability.
As far as side content goes, the side-missions are unfortunately extremely dull with very little variation available. Thankfully the Promotional Video System (PVS) is something I can see idol fans sinking quite a lot of time into. In the PVS players will be able to completely choreograph and tweak an entire song performance. There is a surprising level of detail here as players can change what moves every single character will perform, who will be singing what part, and where the camera will be focusing. To add to this, players can also create various outfits, including underwear, for the girls to wear into battle as well as onto the stage, creating a lot of potential that fans will want to sink their teeth into.
Visuals & Audio
While Omega Quintet may be the first JRPG in the West for the PlayStation 4, it appears that the simple move to the latest console generation hasn’t added a lot to the game. While the 2D character portraits are quite detailed and have a wide range of expressions, most of the enemy models and the environments, despite being large, are rather bland. That being said there are a number of nice touches here and there that prove the move to the PS4 was a wise choice.
The key touch is that unlike many of their past titles, Omega Quintet does not suffer from any slowdown issues that tend to plague Compile Heart’s titles. The character models are also rather nice looking with a variety of (destructible) outfits the Verse Maidens can wear and that players can create, though it is disappointing that their faces are all extremely similar looking. As for PVS, the amount of detail and interactivity that players can put into the mode really shines thanks to the character models and various stage effect players can utilize.
Players will have the option of choosing between the original Japanese voice track as well as an English voice track if they so choose. The English cast has done a good job handling the different personalities of the characters and thankfully Idea Factory International has chosen to present all of the songs in the game with vocals, usually found in the PVS mode, with the original Japanese voice actresses singing the lyrics rather than trying to re-dub the songs.
Omega Quintet may not harness much of the power that the PlayStation 4 and it is a bit of a strange title, but a decent on in the end. With a decent storyline featuring a likable enough cast of characters, though only those who have seen idol anime or have knowledge of the industry will likely enjoy them as much as I happened to, combined with an intricate and highly enjoyable battle system; Omega Quintet is a solid start to Compile Heart’s efforts this generation.
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