This is it, one of the games I’ve been waiting a long time for. Idols, turn-based combat and the power of the PS4 all came together to perform the show of a life time but is it worth the entrance fee?
Omega Quintet thrusts us into the role of Momoka, a Verse Maiden who’s on the edge of losing her powers and is trying to look for an apprentice as well as defend the city as its strongest warrior. A Verse Maiden is a person who’s singing can destroy the Blare, fiends who’ve been demolishing humanity and are immune to normal human resistance, and Momoka finds Takt and Otaha trying to survive when Otaha manages to fight off the Blare by herself. Having found someone Momoka can trust to protect the world in her steed, she takes the pair home; Takt, as you may have guessed, is a boy who becomes the Verse Maiden’s manager and bodyguard, as it seems only women can become Verse Maidens (what would they be anyway, Verse Butlers?)
As you can see above, there are five Verse Maidens in total to fight with, meaning Takt and Otaha find more Verse Maidens to help them on their quest to rid the world of Blare. The other girls who join consist of the stoic and capable Kyouka, the hyper and athletic Kanadeko, the shy and accidentally rude Nene and the wistful and mysterious Aria. The five come together to form Omega Quintet, an idol unit who performs and protects their hometown and its citizens – c’mon, that doesn’t sound awesome to you? A turn-based idol game is a dream come true for me! I like how they tackle the game too with a brilliant blend of humour and serious moments, and the game really gets the feeling of trying to find hope in the darkest times through, and has some genuinely disturbing moments.
The turn-based combat feels like a cross between Hyperdimension Neptunia and Ar nosurge, yet it remains feeling fresh regardless of its influences. With Hyperdimension Neptunia and Omega Quintet both being Compile Heart games, the similarities are obvious in every aspect of the game although the combat is unique from its sister series. You cannot move around when fighting as all five girls remain stationary and, although you can make them all learn almost the same skills, the girls all begin with differing elemental attacks including fire, water, wind and earth, and they each have unique weapons which comes with their own skills – again, you can equip other girls with other weapons but they each work best with their default weapons. R2 lets you quickly skip through the battle animations too which is a Godsend considering how long battles would take otherwise!
A feature I love is the ability to link skills together to create stronger skills with the power of Harmonics, a function that allows several of your girls to attack in the same turn rather than separately. There’s also the Live Concert mode which sees the girls perform (though it’ll look like a normal battle to you) and depending on the songs they sing and what level your harmonics are at when you activate it, you’ll be given different buffs that include higher skill damage, less wait time and a variety of other things. You can even create PV’s which see the five girls dancing to a song you set and you can choose their dance moves, gimmicks that can appear on stage, etc, to create your very own idol J-pop show! As someone who loves the idol scene in Japan, I instantly fell in love with the music and thought that this added feature was fantastic, and definitely beats out Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection’s attempt at idol shows.
Sadly, a huge problem I have that is almost universal to Compile Heart games is how incredibly cheap the game becomes during the later chapters. Instead of making bosses difficult on their own merits, Compile Heart decide to give many of them instant kill moves despite my team having been around level 70 with high-end gear and stat boosters. At no point should a story boss be able to instantly kill my entire team unless I’ve neglected my stats and levels but, sadly, Compile Heart have once again confused cheap with challenging and so the game deviates from being a clever, skill-orientated game to something that forces you to grind for several, less than joyful hours. For some reason, Compile Heart decided to rename the difficulty levels and the descriptions made them sound as if they were easy, normal and hard, when in reality they’re normal, hard and very hard so I ended up playing on hard when I never would have chosen to had Compile Heart labelled the difficulty levels correctly. You can’t change difficulty in-game like you can with most of their other titles which is another confusing, illogical design choice they’ve made.
The dynamic 2D character portraits and CG events are as glorious as ever, as expected from Compile Heart, but the 3D graphics don’t scream PS4 in the slightest. Omega Quintet could have easily been on PS3 and Vita as well as PS4, and a Vita port down the line would not surprise me in the slightest. Does it look ugly? No, it doesn’t, but the 3D models are still relatively flat and undetailed once you look past their bursting colours and beautiful character design.
The game feels a lot smoother than Compile Heart’s previous games which sometimes have noticeable framerate drops but I’m starting to feel that Compile Heart need to update their engine otherwise they risk all of their creative IP’s becoming stale right out of the gate by looking identical; Fairy Fencer F is a brilliant JRPG which also suffers the same issue. The special effects and particles used when performing special moves, linked attacks and the entirety of the PV’s mode are feasts for your eyes, as is the entire game, but the graphics aren’t doing the art design justice.
The OST is outstanding with what seems to be professional Japanese singers lending their voices to the characters, giving an authentic experience and nailing the idol scene. There’s also a terrific English Dub, although the songs remain in Japanese, but it’s a shame that less events are voiced when most are in Japanese; I opted to play in English regardless as I really like the voice actresses and actors performances. There’s six or so songs sung by Omega Quintet and they’re all catchy and songs I’ve been listening to regularly, with Complex:CRESCENT being my favourite.
I do have my complaints about Omega Quintet but I really did enjoy my time with it and, if you’re looking for a JRPG, then I can easily recommend this. Sadly, I wish Compile Heart made more use of the PS4’s power as they really haven’t here, and some of the difficulty quirks can become more frustrating and feel cheap rather than challenging. Compile Heart are one of my favourite JRPG developers and I hope to see Omega Quintet become its own series where it can improve with every installment. I can happily sing its praises but it does hit a few off-notes, and I look forward to seeing the idols next concert.