Editor’s note: this is a user-contributed review. Special thanks to Hazel Whitlock for writing this up!
Characters in video games are just that, characters. Whenever I play an RPG, this always stays in my head, especially considering how even the most interesting characters will often just be flat personifications of a single personality trait or trope. However, OMORI was different for me. The events of the story felt like my own, and I had the feeling that I had known Kel, Aubrey, Hero, and Basil for my whole life. OMORI sucks you in, painting a disturbingly real picture of the ideal childhood that feels like one you remember, or at least one that you wish you had. It feels close to you and is executed in a way that only exponentiates the pain of having this ideal image ripped from you, and torn into a million shreds over and over and over. OMORI is a game that will send you through every emotion in the book in a few different ways, and it’ll certainly be an experience I never forget.
As expected from an RPG Maker game, OMORI follows a system akin to that of the standard turn-based RPG, although with its own little twist that makes it stand on its own. Party members can be one of 3 emotions: happy, sad, and angry. They all boost and negate different stats to make them useful in different situations, as well as also interacting in a rock/paper/scissors dynamic to make for an interesting spin on the formula. Although it seems like a minor change, it changes the general playstyle of the game to focus more on interactions between the party members, as opposed to brute force with the occasional healer as seen in the standard RPG. It makes the battle system feel so dynamic and fun, although unfortunately the normal route of the game is a bit on the easy side, so it often feels like for the average player the battle system isn’t used to its fullest potential. There are also some balancing issues, most notably Aubrey’s Headbutt and Kel’s Run n’ Gun that, if used with the proper setup, can essentially steamroll even the hardest bosses with ease. All of the challenging bosses were put in the alternate route, which I dislike. It feels like it was just slapped there as “the hard route” as an excuse to make the normal route as easy as it is. Overall though, the gameplay is quite fun and dynamic, feeling super unique from the average RPG in the best way! I give the gameplay a 9/10.
As I made clear in the introduction, the writing of OMORI is unlike anything I have ever seen. The characters feel more real than most actual people do, and the person that they are is so clearly reflected in all of their actions. The way that they individually cope with the tragedy that has been left for them is eerily real, and it just feels so natural. None of them feel like plot devices, none of them are invincible like the normal RPG party members, because they’re all people. They’re all just kids for that matter, and that’s expressed so naturally. They’ve all been broken by an immeasurable tragedy, and they’ve all handled it in different and truly realistic ways. Especially the main character Sunny, who has such a fleshed-out and dynamic mind. Everything that happens affects him and will show its effects in the story and in his character. Sunny himself paints such an accurate picture of the internal battle between mental clarity and mental illness in such a beautiful way, and the execution is near-perfect. The story left me in such a flurry of emotions, and it’ll be something I will never forget. The game pulls off incredibly dark, morbid, and serious tones and topics, yet it handles them in such a mature, deep, and insightful fashion so that it never comes off in an overly edgy way, and it never feels like it’s just cheap shock value. Although the game has mastered its darker and more serious tone, it also has a goofier and more fun side! It features an incredible sense of humor, a genuinely charming world, and yet it still manages to perfectly sprinkle in bite-sized portions of intense and horrifying psychological horror at the perfect times to scare the player just when they’re the most comfortable. It creates a feeling of having something dear to you being forcefully ripped from your grasp, while not relying on jump scares and such like the usual indie horror title. However, it isn’t all perfect. At times, the happy parts of OMORI, known as Headspace, can stretch on far longer than necessary, and a lot of portions really just had me speeding through them to get to the next plot-heavy section. Even the boss fights, aside from Sweetheart and Humphrey were disappointing and dull, and really just feel like filler. Although, all things considered, the flaws aren’t enough to bring the rating any lower than an 8/10.
OMORI was created by the professional artist OMOCAT, who runs a fairly large merchandise store where she collaborates with big names in the video game industry such as Doki Doki Literature Club, Yo-Kai Watch, and even Pokémon! This experience as an artist couldn’t be more obvious, as she does not hesitate to showcase her artwork in-game. Every enemy is hand-drawn in a beautiful and adorable style, and so many important scenes are fully animated! This makes the game absolutely ooze with charm, and it really portrays the game world as more than just pixels. The UI is also very unique, being quite thematically sound in fitting in with the rest of the game. However, OMORI’s main visual flaw comes in the very nature of its engine, RPG Maker. It cannot be played at true fullscreen, which can often break immersion, but that’s one flaw in an otherwise beautiful game! I give it a 10/10 in the visual department.
With a game as content-packed as OMORI, there’s sure to be a lot of music as well! Between the efforts of Slime Girls, Jami Lynne, and Bo En there are 179 total songs in the soundtrack. The music always fits the atmosphere phenomenally, especially during the more serious parts of OMORI, and there are plenty of great songs from the soundtrack listening to. My personal favorites were Splintered Sweets in the Castle, My Time, Bready Steady Go, and DUET but there are lots of great songs that I failed to mention. A lot of the battle themes didn’t have the usual feel of a battle theme though, and they sometimes end up feeling kind of flat. Overall though, the highlights and the moodier tracks bring my audio rating up to a 9/10!
This game was a journey, an incredible experience from start to finish. At least for me, this is one of those games that I will never forget. I honestly had a really hard time articulating my thoughts for this review, because it’s so hard to view OMORI as a game, or even as a piece of media at all! It was an experience in the most literal fashion, and it’s an experience that is absolutely worth having. The themes and plot points hit very close to home for me, and I can see a lot of myself and other people in the characters of OMORI. I found myself genuinely sobbing throughout so many parts of OMORI. It felt like an incredibly personal experience, and one that resonated with me harder than any piece of media ever has.
- Gameplay: 9/10
- Writing: 8/10
- Visuals: 10/10
- Audio: 8/10
- Overall: 35/40
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