Prepare to be antsy and enthralled by the first look of this JRPG set in a New-Weird fiction universe.
OMNIS – The Erias Line has made my list of games to get excited about. It is a 2D game with the design of a JRPG, but with the unease of various horror games. OMNIS takes the “subterranean city gone wrong” theme and sprinkles it with a character driven storyline. The game will feature a Dynamic Arc System that will make a vast amount of small changes to the characters and plot based on how you play. The Internal World System will allow you to explore the lives of each of your characters through events in their lives. OMNIS currently features a Battle Formation System, offering positive and negative effects for each slot a character is in while in combat. In addition, the enemies will adjust and appropriately counter you based on the actions that you choose. This Dynamic Arc System and Internal World System information comes directly from Elyn Studios, and not from the playable demo (v.30.1) the rest of this preview is drawn from.
The atmosphere in OMNIS is what makes this game fairly creepy, making use of psychological horror over gore horror. The music also sets the mood for each zone. The perspective of the game is 2D, but the use of walls in the foreground and a fixed camera make the game difficult to navigate at first. This effect goes away after a few minutes of play and eventually becomes fairly pleasing to the eye. A huge perk of this camera angle is its sense of mystery and on-edge paranoia. This point of view throws the player into the fray of decaying facilities and tunnels very nicely. Even the greener areas of the game look eerie and manage to have an unsettling beauty to them. The game currently has a disclaimer about placeholder graphics, however I truly hope that some of the current art is staying.
Combat starts off fairly easy, requiring no more than repeated basic attacks, but quickly becomes more engaging. In addition to the Battle Formation System, combat features Quick Time Events for certain special moves. The feature is simple and fairly easy to pull off but still requires some skill. Some early enemies have a sleeping ability that forces you to not rely too much on one of your characters. These enemies force you to prioritize who you target first in a group, and give justifiable hope for some of the fun combat abilities that Elyn Studios might implement in the future.
Currently, the game shows progress towards Elyn Studios’ end goal. The demo on their IndieDB page (here) is worth a playthrough to get an idea of how the game plays. The game uses arrow keys for movement, Enter for select, and Shift for running. A feature to rebind keys would be nice on release, however this is a minor thing that does not detract from gameplay. Even in its current state the game is solid and enjoyable.
The only flaw that truly stands out in the game is difficulty navigating the rooms. The game’s minimap is the only way to know where you are, and the game offers zero indication of where to go next. If you don’t mind spending a decent amount of time running around then this issue can be overlooked.
Beyond that, it will be exciting to see what Elyn Studios will do with OMNIS. The studio is currently hosting a Kickstarter (here) and would appreciate the help. Try out the demo and see for yourself that OMNIS – The Erias Line is on its way to be a prime example of a good JRPG while ushering in its own hybrid genre.