Omikron: The Nomad Soul

10_1Omikron: The Nomad Soul is nothing if not ambitious. It’s a third-person game with that edgy flair for gorgeous graphics and bizarre camera angles. The game begins with you, a lowly gamer, having your soul transferred over to that of a denizen in the parallel world of Omikron. You soon discover that your new body belongs to a cop and that his partner has recently been killed. Your task is to find out what happened to him, and in the process learn more about the troubles in this strange parallel universe.

From there, Omikron has you explore the environments, find people to talk to and manipulate your inventory. You carry a device called a SNEAK, and from here you’re able to manipulate and examine your inventory, check out a map of the area and replay certain key conversations. The SNEAK only holds 18 items; with probably 50 or more critical items, expect to juggle a lot of stuff around. While normally this is frowned upon, excess items can be stored in a “Multiplan Virtual Locker,” which can be accessed from numerous locations in the game.

The game also takes a risk with its handling of saved games. You can only save in fixed locations and only if you’re in possession of magic rings. You’re given a few of these at the start, and discover more on your way. While it initially appears problematic, the reality is that the save points are all at really obvious locations near or after key events, and there are enough rings that, like Resident Evil’s ink ribbons, it’s unlikely you’ll ever run out.

The game has plenty of puzzles, ranging from simple to fairly complex. The majority of them are object-oriented puzzles, and while most are relatively simple, a few require the usual adventure game anti-logic. For example, in one part of the game you need to disable an electrical device. Ultimately you find a wire and short the device, which makes perfect sense. However, in order to get that single wire you need to do about five or six significant tasks, none of which make much sense in the context of wire gathering.

Other puzzles are considerably more challenging. A few actually require you to write things down (quit shuddering). There’s some decoding, an always unwelcome sound puzzle, and one “gotcha” puzzle that, if you get it wrong, requires some serious backtracking. Overall, what it may lack in actual difficulty it more than compensates for in quantity. And the sights and sounds you’ll experience on the way.

6_1The arcade segments are a small percentage of the overall gameplay, but they dominate the proceedings. There are tons of great ideas floating around Omikron—you can amuse yourself for hours exploring, finding objects to buy or books to read. You can purchase music and listen to it, or explore the apartments of the people’s bodies you transfer into. None of this stuff is required, but the freedom shows a certain level of commitment by the team. When all is said and done, is Omikron worth the price of admission? Perhaps, if you’re able to look past the aimlessness of its gameplay to explore its vast universe and story.

System Requirements: Pentium 200 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win95

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