Well, the game gives off the same vibe anyway, which is both a good and a bad thing. Read on to find out why.
My journey into the RPG Maker realm continues, this time with the demo for Omnis: The Erias Line. It is a game that surprised me more than once.
First off, let's get the obvious out of the way: The game's first area reminds me a lot of the Midgar slums from Final Fantasy VII. Heck, you even board a train later on. What's more, the two main protagonists look like a more down-to-earth version of Cloud Strife and Femshep respectively.
Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to have a Cloud/Femshep hero couple in just about any other video game - but here, it just felt like too much.
That was my first impression after paying the first 10 minutes of the game. As I continued on, however, I realized that this is not a cheap ripoff after all.
It has some similarities, intentional or not, but that is because it has the same dieselpunk JRPG vibe like Final Fantasy VII has: Mostly-mechanical objects with down-to-earth technology, yet a few advanced things like security robots and computer terminals still exist. Even if there is sci-fi stuff, it is reserved for later and never overused.
The game puts you into the role of Orphan and Skyler, two mercenaries who're tasked with rescuing someone from a military train. The train departs from Verdamm Station, which is normally only accessible for the high society. To keep a low profile, they have to go through some abandoned underground living quarters and mines.
The odds are not in their favor, which applies to both the story as well as the gameplay. The first time you engage in a fight, it'll be hard. Very hard.
It'll take a while until you've reached a level with your characters at which you can survive. Until then, your healing potions as well as reviving items are limited, and the only way to restock them is to hope for some lucky drops from the enemies. So on the one hand, you need to train just to survive, but it can also go wrong quite easily.
Oh, and did I mention that you're on a time limit? It's not that strict, but you can't be lazy either. This early portion of the game, which lasts until you reach the train station, is unusually stressful, but also quite rewarding.
I encountered the same effect in games like Demon's Souls, Gothic or Vagrant Story:
The first chapter has quite the steep difficulty and learning curve, and maybe you need to start a new game to avoid some mistakes you made on your firs try. But once you've mastered the first chapter, it feels extremely rewarding. Also, you eventually get a grip on the game, and you can master any challenges that follow afterwards.
Omnis is no different, as you will learn to prepare yourself for anything that comes after the train section.
The game also has its fair share of puzzles. The very first one is encountered during your time limit, which can be frustrating, but I also applaud the game for having the balls of doing this.
I noticed a trend in some recent JRPGs to feature little to no puzzles. On the one hand, this allows you to focus on the story and the combat system more. On the other hand, I think these games lack a creative challenge otherwise.
As a result, it's nice to play a game that has a good balance between combat and puzzles for once, like the oldschool JRPGs had back in the day.
Another point worth mentioning is the artstyle and overall graphics quality.
The other day, I was talking about how a game can be entertaining by just having a good story and gameplay, and the graphics are just a means to an end. So ultimately, it doesn't matter if a RPG Maker game uses the default editor graphics.
But this game has custom graphics through and through, and to be frank, it's insane by RPG Maker standards. It looks way too good. Even if I were to judge this game as a non-RPG Maker game, it still stands strong. The backgrounds are detailed and the animations are fluid.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Omnis. While it's short, what I saw was good.
While this is not the FF7 remake everyone wants (2d or otherwise), it's the next best thing (Sort of). So feel free to give it a shot.