Omega Quintet is Compile Heart’s latest and premier RPG for the PlayStation 4 that features idol’s saving the world through the magic of song and dance. Although it looks like many of the developers past work such as Fairy Fencer F and Neptunia series, it definitely is a different beast with bunch of mechanics and features to wrap your mind around. So did I find these super-heroine idols performance satisfactory? Read on to find out.
Title: Omega Quintet
Developer: Compile Heart
System: PlayStation 4
Release Date: 04-28-2015 (NA), 05-06-2015 (EU)
Omega Quintet setups a world that is experiencing a phenomenon known as the “Blare” (called Beep in the Japanese version) that is eroding way the life and mind of humans. However, girls known as “Verse Maidens”, a group of idols have the power to combat this threat step up to the plate. After a series of events, a young girl named Otoha is recruited as the latest member of the Verse Maidens and alongside her childhood friend Takt acting as the manager and bodyguard, they work to combat the Blare. From the very beginning through nearly entire story, Omega Quintet is very upbeat and jocular in nature. More akin to watching an anime, the narrative is somewhat rapid-fire – events moving quick, but so quick as to overlook anything. That said, the writing itself does seem to lead much to be desired as there are various times when specific details are purposely evaded until later or not even touched upon at all. Nonetheless, as flimsy in some areas as it was, I did find the narrative passable. The characterization for the Verse Maidens themselves do sort of boil down to the common myopic and banal take such as Kanadeko being the impulsive tomboy or Nene as the timid and scared one. A few events do come in to better paint the girl’s personalities, but hardly any benefit as the writing itself isn’t a enough to carry them out of the one-sided archetypes. The dialogue is another component that suffers from the mediocre writing (the first 15 minutes were kind of hard to sit through in all honesty), yet does seem to moderately improve with the story progressing and more characters able to play off each other.
Before setting off to do anything, you usually start off at the Home Office, a base of sorts where you can prepare. You can utilize a workshop to create items and costumes, don said costumes via the Makeup Room, get in some battle training via the Training Room, trade in material at the Collection Box, and jump into the storyline missions with the Mission Room. Around town, sidequest are often available, usually people wanting you to bring them certain items, and your also free to visit various dungeons and fields you have unlocked. Field Exploration works similar to that of the Neptunia series where enemies roam around freely and collectible items are scattered about. Since the fields themselves contain special entities, each girl is outfitted with a Field Action. For example: Kanadeko can destroy obstructed pathways opening up new areas of the field while Kyoka can pass through certain Blare Barriers, a useful feat that often requires defeating nearby enemies. Almost every element of dungeons and fields have an interactive layer – including the girls themselves that will often voice their embarrassment or shock as you play with camera trying to zoom up on them. In some ways it is cute as it is equally creepy and somewhat annoying as the girls can sometimes turn into chatterboxes – making a lot of small talk during exploration. And just like the Neptunia series, the Symbol Encounter system is present where if you attack an enemy from the back, you can get a preemptive advantage as you head into combat. Battles still take on the same turn-based style as they always have like in the previous aforementioned properties, but for Omega Quintet specifically – the method to the madness ramps up a couple of octaves. Get it? Octaves, a musical term, idols? Ah, yeah…let’s continue with the review.
As stated, battles are turn-based with up to five combatants taking part. Unlike most RPG’s, your characters can attack multiple times per turn influenced by their equipment – especially the weapons. Since enemies take different positions on the field called “Effective Ranges”, the attacking character and weapon will also perform differently depending where they attack. For example: Hammers deal damage better closeup while Rifles do more damage hitting back lines. If you opt use skills, the character must expend energy (akin to SP or MP) and barred by a wait time before you attack again – the stronger the skill the longer the wait. As you trade blows with the enemies a meter at the bottom of the screen called “Voltage Gauge” will rise, but can also slightly decrease if a team member is knocked out. Leveling up the Voltage Gauge is important for numerous reasons: 1.) It allows your characters to use their special skills and finishing moves, but more importantly 2.) Allows you enter Live Concert Mode. Depending on the level of the Gauge, Live Concert Mode confers specific stat bonus to characters (along with some J-pop music to boot) allowing for improved combat capabilities. During this mode, different fans might chime with request for the idols like attacking enemies with certain skills or using an item. With request sometime being character-based, some luck is necessary, but no penalty will be issued for passing up the request. After a few turns past, a character gets knocked out, or Gauge empties, Live Concert Mode ends and the chance at extra experience points, so if you want those bonuses and the experience point bonus at the end of battle be sure to finish accordingly. So what about Takt? Where does he come into play with this battle system or is he just another worthless male character? No, Takt is kind of useful even though he can’t participate in battle directly.
When Takt is paired up with female character this will enable the use of support skills such as shielding an enemy attack, or completely delaying an enemy turn. Like the girls, Takt can only act a certain number of times per turn, so make sure you act only when needed. If your characters are able to get in consecutive turns after one another Harmonics will be activated allowing the girls to pull off powerful attacks and doing it in succession will create a Harmonic chain for even more damage, so Takt is something of asset if used right. Combining various “Flash Effects” (similar to the Legend Of Heroes franchise) that can happen on a characters turn make the damage output stack up on foes pretty quickly. And remember those costumes I alluded to earlier? They can also hold different bonuses for characters and not just for looks. Just like Senran Kagura, clothing has an endurance meter and once it decreases to “0” from enemy attacks, they can break making the effect along with them disappear. Not particular important, but it does exist. While all this might sound overwhelming, battles aren’t that taxing or complicated – even on the standard the difficulty level, but if you are playing on higher levels you most likely will be or need to use all the combat elements that are presented. Most of it is absolutely frivolous and might look as if it is adding mechanics for the sake of adding mechanics to cover a flawed system, yet not at all useless or a time sink trying to learn or master unlike the mechanics in Mugen Souls. Things do tend to get drawn out due to the nature of the system – although, battles do also become more exciting with the extra touches and ideas.
When you want to take a break from the story and beating the living bleep out of monsters (on point with the puns), your base does have one more option and pastime for you to enjoy called “PVS” or Promotional Video System where you can create, edit, and share videos of the girls putting on a concert complete with choice of music and choreography. It doesn’t get as granule like The iDOLM@STER or other music centric games, but can get some favorable result in spite of the depth. Thanks to the PS4 graphical boost, the concerts do look very picturesque and beautiful like the rest of the game and makes watching the videos a treat. Music in general for the game is also quite good and a cut above its predecessors as it encompasses a few musical genres like the electronic trance piece City scape. The vocal and other insert songs are the typical J-pop songs with lyrics that sound like they are straight out of the 90’s or akin to the works of artist like Ayumi Hamasaki or Kumi Koda. Either way, it is pretty good stuff if you are into the genre.
Overall, Omega Quintet may not be the absolute perfect game (it is very far from it) or one that win over new fans trying to get into Japanese RPG’s, but does showcase a myriad of new ideas and probably will hook ardent ones that don’t mind putting up with the inane story progression stuffed into even more inane requirements amounting to fetch quest. There is a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction to be had in exploring the sprawling dungeons and in combat, but does sort of take its toll near the end of the game as more missions require more combat from you to stay on par with enemies. Regardless of my complaints, Compile Heart’s “Galapagos RPG” projects seem to be on the right track as far as creating interesting variants, and can’t wait to see what they come up with next. Sadly, while it isn’t all good or even very concrete ideas, I’m hopefully that the next product will get some mileage out of them. However, as far as I’m concerned, these idols pass my auditions with flying colors.
Pros: Very intricate battle system, field exploration is both more involved and enjoyable, adjustable difficulty, PVS system is optional and fun to play around with, graphics and visuals, soundtrack.
Cons: Writing for the dialogue and story/story progression needs work, sidequest lack variety, ending requirements are a pain to deal with it.
Disclaimer: In no way, shape, or form was I compensated for the composition or publication of this review. This by my own volition. A review copy of the game was kindly provided by Ideal Factory International. All images and rights to them belong to Ideal Factory International and Compile Heart and only for review purposes.