Plenty of video games appeal to the inner child in all of us. They remind us of when we were young and appeal to our sense of nostalgia. However, for many people, their memories of the past may not be as ideal as others would expect. Their pasts can contain trauma, abuse, neglect and other bad memories that weigh down on their sense of nostalgia. Not to say that their childhood was bad, but if it was going to be depicted in an RPG, it would deserve one that was more honest. OMORI goes the extra mile to depict a version of a typical inner child that has sustained some damage throughout its upbringing.
The Role You Play
You mainly play as Sunny when exploring Faraway Town and his alter ego: the titular Omori when exploring the dream world. They are both silent, knife-wielding protagonists who usually present themselves with very stoic expressions. They are usually joined by their friends: a cheerful young girl named Aubrey, the eccentric and athletic Kel, and the kind and supportive Hero. All four of them have unique abilities that help them build off of one another.
It’s not easy to talk about the plot of OMORI without giving away the details that make it so good. It is best to go in knowing as little as possible. The best and most spoiler-free plot I can give is that Omori spends his days either staying alone in the white space or going to the dream world to visit his friends. He and his friends do a lot of fun activities together and reminisce over days as they are captured in Basil’s photo album. Omori and Basil realize that something is off when they discover a familiar yet disturbing photo that Basil does not remember taking. Learning the truth starts with relearning the events that led to that picture being taken.
The gameplay in OMORI differs depending on what section of the game you’re playing. In the dream world, Omori and his friends engage in rather traditional turn-based combat. Each character has their own skill set and can do combinations attacks with one another. Allies and enemies alike can also be affected by different moods, where they can be angry, happy or sad. Each different mood had its pros and cons, so changing the mood of a party member or ally is always a potential strategic choice.
During more atypical sections of the game, the combat feels pretty irrelevant. When you play as Sunny, if you ever engage in combat, it feels like the battles are on rails and have a pre-determined outcome. This happens multiple times throughout the game, and can even happen at unexpected times.
OMORI is absolutely jam-packed with content. Not only is every moment you play loaded with substance, but you have multiple options for which direction you want to take. Many of the decisions you make in the game affect the final outcome and there is a lot to discover. This means you have the option to play through the game multiple times to see every potential outcome that OMORI has to offer. A typical single playthrough will take roughly about 20 hours to finish.
OMORI takes a lot of inspiration from Earthbound and other Super Nintendo classics, and that is made abundantly clear from its music. It has a retro-style soundtrack with songs that make nods to older Super Nintendo games. There are several throwbacks to Earthbound, but there are some other different classic games thrown in as well, such as Mario Paint, the Pokémon series and Undertale to name a few.
OMORI’s soundtrack uses a lot of familiar sounds to create a sense of comfort and familiarity and then gradually jars you out of it with its unique brand of unease and horror.
The most standout feature of OMORI is the slow psychological horror tone that gradually gets more prominent throughout the game. OMORI is very unpredictable with how it chooses to present its horror elements, but that works in its favor. It is always very subtlety creepy and goes against RPG traditions, sometimes leaving you unable to prepare for certain large battles. This will be the inevitable reality of encountering said battles leaving you with a feeling of powerlessness. Sometimes the powerlessness will end up not mattering, but it’s the not knowing that adds to the terror.
The Talking Parts
Most of the dialogue in OMORI is conveyed through simple text boxes. That dialogue is augmented by having each character convey their tone through facial expressions next to the dialogue they are speaking. In addition to the dialogue throughout the game, there are cutscenes presented in the game’s signature sketchbook style. These are consistent throughout the game and they can depict any number of events with an unpredictable range of tones. They can be heartfelt and jovial, but they can shift to scary and unnerving in a heartbeat.
Z…We’ve Reached the End. Anything Else?
OMORI as a game would not be able to exist without being able to take inspiration from Earthbound. Both games have multiple similarities, from the art style to the combat to the soundtrack. However, as the similarities become apparent, so too do the deviations to make OMORI a very tonally different game. While Earthbound was a quirky sci-fi adventure, OMORI subverts that expectation and creates an experience that can be creepy and terrifying.
OMORI is an absolutely excellent game. It sets a brand new benchmark in indie horror RPGs by not only being an unforgettable experience but by going above and beyond with every feature it has to offer. If you are at all curious about what a great horror RPG is capable of, OMORI is one you should not miss out on.
Final Score: 10/10
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