Save the world one time loop at a time in mystery action RPG Omensight

The holy priestess Vera is dead, the world-devouring demon Voden is back from the dead, and the tribes of anthropomorphic animals that govern Urralia are at each other's throats. Things are not going great, but there is good news: we are the legendary Harbinger, and with the help of an ancient spirit we can go back in time to find out how we got into this mess and prevent it from happening. To paraphrase that ancient spirit: get in loser, we're going sleuthing. 

Omensight is a third-person action RPG that plays a bit like Clue. Every day you take another stab at saving the world by visiting different areas and shadowing different characters, who are all somehow connected to Vera's murder and Voden's revival. You're not going to figure this out in a day, and you can't make wild stabs in the dark, either. You've got to slowly but steadily connect the dots by using what you've learned in previous timelines, from combat techniques to path-opening keys, to uncover new information.

Every morning, you choose one of four characters to follow: Draga, a feline general; Ratika, a rebellious rodent; Ludomir, a regicidal bear; or Indrik, an avian emperor. The character you follow determines what areas of the world you visit, from a war-torn forest to a hallowed temple, as well as what route you take through them. You can only shadow one character at a time, but once you learn what the others are up to, you can track everyone's whereabouts simultaneously and put together a complete picture of everything that happened on Urralia's final day and what all you need to change.  But your choice doesn't necessarily lock you into a set path. By applying and sharing what you know about the rest of the world, you can convince (or force) a character off the beaten path and into the invaluable unknown.

I started with general Draga because she seemed honest and she was close to Indrik, who I hadn't unlocked yet but seemed to be the most suspicious of the bunch. As I tailed her through an ongoing siege staged by the rat tribe, I quickly learned a few things about Omensight. Firstly, the Harbinger isn't messing around. This isn't that fragile brand of time travel where you can't even step on a bug without inadvertently causing a zombie apocalypse or something. Omensight is an action RPG, after all, so you're going to kill, loot and level up each day. In other words, we are most definitely going to, uh, interfere with the past. I mean, our entire goal is to change the timeline, right? So let's do some freakin' harbinging.

Combat is simple but satisfying. You've got light and heavy attacks which build energy you can use to fire combo-punctuating special moves, a good old-fashioned double jump and dodge, and more abilities to unlock as you earn experience and money. My favorite ability so far is the stasis field which slows down everything but you, allowing for easy kills and clever tactics, like waltzing right up to a bomb, giving it a whack and slowly walking away as it annihilates a cluster of enemies in slow motion behind you. Flying around rooms hacking enemies to bits is good fun, and dodging clearly signaled enemy attacks delivers an almost rhythm game-like flow. It's a bit button mashy, but it makes you feel powerful while being just tough enough to keep you on your toes.

Combat is further invigorated by the unique special moves of each followable character. Draga will unleash a fiery AoE wherever you tell her, for instance, and Ratika will temporarily buff your speed and power with an emboldening song. Not only that, the character you shadow determines the enemies you fight. The rat warriors I pulverized alongside Draga became my allies when I shadowed Ratika, which made for totally different encounters. You can also grab enemies and throw them at whoever you're shadowing, who will insta-kill them without a moment's hesitation, which leads me to one of my favorite things about Omensight: the partner characters kick ass. They need no protecting, they don't make me wait, and their dialogue doesn't make me want to claw my ears off. While I can't say as much for minor characters, the main cast is well-voiced and well-written, with distinct, likable personalities. 

The Harbinger herself is also an appealing character. I like her slender design, for one, especially her wispy ponytail and the way her appearance subtly changes as you upgrade your gear. She's a silent protagonist but she's characterized by the people she shadows. Some revere her as a deity while others fear her for the doom she signifies. And it's always hilarious to see the Harbinger attempt to interact with normal people. In an effort to ingratiate herself with Ludomir, for example, she saunters up to the bar he's sitting at and casually grabs a pint. Don't mind me, folks, just a paragon of fate in need of a cold one.

The story is pretty darn good, too. I'm only a few hours in, and already I've seen some major twists which not only radically changed the way I viewed things, but also the way I approached them. Omensight is fundamentally a game about reliving the past so it can't help getting repetitive, but each character's storyline changes considerably as you progress, so even familiar areas start to feel new. After shadowing Ratika, I unlocked a key for a new area in Draga's path, and I couldn't wait to backtrack through her route and see what changed. It helps that you can skip to the important bits of routes you've already played. No need to replay all the fights and cutscenes, just take me straight to the locked door, thanks.  

My only real gripe is that, while I have a satisfying sense of agency, I've got no sense of urgency. There's no downside to failing or wasting a day, at least none that I can see. There are no stakes like there are in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and the Persona games with their strict calendars. Never thought I'd say this, but I need harsher deadlines, dammit. Oh, and the few boss fights I've encountered so far were boring, with none of the flair of normal fights. But those are small complaints, and so far Omensight is a big bag of fun. If you want to try it for yourself, you can get it for $20 on Steam, GOG or Humble (or $18 if you buy it by Monday).