Review – Omen of Sorrow (PS5)
Even though Eastasiasoft’s recent output of games has been atrocious, to put it very mildly, I was immediately intrigued by the announcement of the next-gen versions of Omen of Sorrow. For reasons beyond my comprehension, I missed out on this game’s existence back when it first came out, even though its premise is one I have been clamoring for years: a horror-themed fighting game. Well, granted, my dream fighting game has always been one with a roster comprised solely of horror movie characters, but this one nearly achieves that. A competitive fighter featuring Mr. Hyde, Imhotep, Elizabeth Bathory, and even freaking Quasimodo? I had to check it out.
I’m glad I did. No, I did not find a hidden gem. I would call this average at best. But it’s a fascinating title. Omen of Sorrow is a little game that tried to emulate fighting giants with stellar budgets. It tried to be both Mortal Kombat (the modern ones, mind you) and Killer Instinct (also, the modern one) at the same time. Games that had the financial backing from freaking Warner Brothers and Microsoft, respectively. It’s almost as if this review wasn’t just a review about the game itself, but a fascinating discovery of a small team trying to create what’s possibly the only indie polygonal 2D fighter out in consoles. Well, that and the fighting game where you could put Jesus against Buddha, which was somehow released on Nintendo Switch.
The presentation is an all-out attempt to emulate Mortal Kombat X and 11. The menus look the same, the narration is gloomy like the ones in Ed Boon’s creations, and there’s a story mode. One that tries to tell a convoluted story with everyone running after a MacGuffin. As expected, one that isn’t good. It’s not like the Mortal Kombat story modes were magnificent pieces of art either, but they had their cheesy charm. There is no charm in the plot and dialogue in Omen of Sorrow, especially because there’s very little voice acting, none of it stemming from the imbeciles actually doing all the fighting. But hey, I cannot be overly critical of them trying to do the same another game did with a fraction of the budget. They tried. It wasn’t good, but I respect that.
The gameplay, on the other hand, reminded me of Killer Instinct. It’s responsive and ridiculously fast-paced, maybe even to a fault. On occasion, the controls can feel a bit flawed due to the ridiculous pace of the game: it might compute a jump when you’re just trying to do a quarter-circle special attack. All in all, it’s still surprisingly solid. It helps that the framerate is excellent, running at 60fps without even considering slowing down a second. A bit unbalanced, sure, but that plagues all fighting games in one way or another.
The roster is varied enough. You have characters with different fighting styles, some of which stemming from other characters from other fighting franchises. The archangel Gabriel (not exactly what I would call a horror monster, but whatever) is your well-rounded, “suited for all styles” Ryu type. Adam, also known as the Frankenstein’s monster, is slow, but packs one hell of a punch. Imhotep is literally the Dhalsim of this game. Elizabeth Bathory is the gimmicky character, as she can summon a gigantic dragon made out of blood to do her bidding. A fun roster, but one that’s severely lacking in quantity. Omen of Sorrow only features ten fighters, with no unlockables or DLC.
What really brings Omen of Sorrow down is the fact it’s still, at the end of the day, a low-budget fighting game trying to punch above its weight. That means that its modes are simplistic. Its roster is minuscule. It might have unlockables, but they are mostly tied to cosmetics and profile tags for online play. While it does feature a story mode, it’s lame. Its visuals are somewhat underwhelming. Finally, it might have one of the dumbest trophy collections I’ve seen in a PlayStation game. It’s not a game that wants to reward you mainly through skill, but through grinding. There’s even a trophy that’s only unlocked upon playing the damn thing for over 300 hours. I’m sorry, but I don’t even have that in Super Smash Bros Ultimate after nearly five years, I’m sure as hell not going to do so here.
Thankfully, there is one really positive note. Omen of Sorrow‘s soundtrack is excellent. It follows the same pattern as the soundtrack from Killer Instinct, being a mixture of industrial, djent, and electronica, just like what Mick Gordon does best. However, due to its gothic horror nature, it goes a step above in terms of weight and aggressiveness, sounding like the love child between Killer Instinct and what Mick did for the Doom games. It fits perfectly with the game’s overall setting. Even if the sound effects and voice acting were subpar at best, I can’t deny; Omen of Sorrow is full of bangers.
The foundations for a good and ambitious fighter can be seen in Omen of Sorrow. It was a commendable effort by its developers, but sadly, the game falters in its minuscule roster size, pointless story mode and ridiculous trophy requirements. Still, I am actually glad this game exists. There’s something about it that made it extra charming. Omen of Sorrow reminded me a lot of those adorable mid-tier fighting games that were everywhere during the Nintendo 64/PS1 generation. Games like Fighters Destiny, Bio Freaks, War Gods, Mace: The Dark Age. Games that weren’t able to compete with the big ones, but sure as hell tried, and we all lauded the attempt. That’s Omen of Sorrow in a nutshell. Flawed, but I respect the hustle.
It runs well, the character models are well-designed, but the game looks a bit too simplistic. Granted, it is an indie, but an indie that was attempting to emulate the grandeur of the more modern Mortal Kombats. Bold move. Big mistake too.
For the most part, a decent attempt at creating a fighting system akin to the one seen in Killer Instinct, but a bit unbalanced and just slightly janky. Still, way better than expected.
The soundtrack is shockingly good, reminiscent of Mick Gordon’s work in Killer Instinct, with some elements of his work in the DOOM series. Voice acting and sound effects are mediocre at best, but when the music is this good, I can accept the shortcomings.
Fun Factor: 6.0
The foundations for a good and ambitious fighting game can be seen in Omen of Sorrow. Sadly, it falters in its presentation, roster size, and dorky story. It also features one of the most pointless trophy requirements in history.
Final Verdict: 7.0
Omen of Sorrow is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of Omen of Sorrow was provided by the publisher.