As far as music within games go, there is almost a standard where games will place. There are the games which use music as a background and as an accompaniment to the game, like the various Journey, Destiny or Dying Light, and then there are others which put music in the central stage, with games such as Guitar Hero, Sing it and Just Dance, where the key mechanic revolves around reproducing music or dance moves almost to perfection. Some rare games manage to break through the boundaries of both and create a mix which satisfies both genres while not being a stellar addition to any. Omega Quintet aims to be a title which proves how effective a game taking from both areas can be, and it does so quite impressively I should say.
Omega Quintet stars Otoha, a wannabe Verse Maiden because of her idol Momoka. In Japanese pop culture, an idol is simply a famous, cute and relatively young star or group of singers. Momoka is one such idol, who for her performances defeats Blare, a sort of mist which has invaded the city and which also spawns horrific creatures which attack civilians with no apparent reason. In order to get rid of this Blare, these Verse Maidens first defeat these creatures and then proceed to sing to eliminate the mist, which can produce even more monsters if the mist is not cleared. The events in the game begin when Momoka, the principal idol for apparently a number of years, becomes too “old” for her job, which means that her secretary Ayumi must recruit new Verse Maidens to fill in Momoka’s shoes. Otoha is an incredibly big fan of Momoka, and dreams of becoming a Verse Maiden just like her. Her chance becomes a reality when she and her childhood friend Takt are endangered by this Blare, and Momoka rushes in to help her. When these creatures are threatening to kill Takt, Otoha discovers her own strength, which enables Momoka to discover her. Following these episodes, the Verse Maidens slowly assemble as a party of five, with their intent on freeing the city from these peculiar creatures.
Omega Quintet plays like a traditional JRPG, with turn based battle at the core of combat and a roaming character in platforming sections of the game. The platforming sections are as plain as ever, and you only encounter enemies or proceed to the next objective. Interactions with the environment consist of attacking the enemies to result in a surprise attack, or interaction with save points, which can also take you back to base. Once back at the base, HP and SP of the gang will reset, as well as Takt’s moves, which we will cover in a bit.
Combat, as mentioned before, takes place like traditional JRPGs do, with some exceptions which improve on the formula. One such change is the range function, which results in your character doing more damage or less damage the closer, or the farther, you are from the enemy. This brings in a tactical element to the battle, selecting enemies close to your Maiden to maximize attack potential. Another change to the usual JRPG formula, and one which I personally love, is the action count mechanic. Basically, this works as follows: each maiden has a set number of actions which she can do, which starts at 1. Every time a maiden kills a MAD (Mad Creature), this action count will increase. This means that the next turn, the Maiden who obtained a kill will have an extra move, particularly an extra attack, which she can do. These extra actions will only last for one turn, so it is better to make the best use possible of them. Action count can increase to a maximum of double the initial value of the action count, and these action counts may increase depending on the mic proficiency or level. Levelling up a maiden can also net you with action points.
Getting back to Takt’s function in combat, he does a very unique role in combat. Due to story circumstances, Takt follows Otoha around everywhere, which means that he becomes close with the Verse Maidens. Ayumi, the maidens’ manager, fits Takt with a place alongside the girls while combat is going on. Takt is “equipped” to a maiden and will follow attacks or defend your chosen maiden, and these action result as a result of a prompt. This prompt may result in following in on an attack, defending the equipped party member of the whole party in general, which reduces the damage received. Takt is not directly controllable in battle, which is why he possesses action counts. These action counts are the number of actions which one can prompt Takt to intervene, but apart from that he will not do more, thus using the moves carefully is key to win. Takt’s attack is called Pursuit, and will make enemies skip a turn. Takt’s defensive moves are called Paired defence, when defending a single maiden, and group defence, which says it all really.
Another mechanic of the game which I quite loved personally is the flash effects mechanic. This plays as follows: the following set of turns is displayed as a chain of portraits on the right, and shows both your party and the enemy. On the side of some portraits, empty or not, there may be a positive status ailment which will trigger if a member is on the portrait to which it is assigned. On the start of the next turn of that member, the ailment can kick in, and these ailments may range from a HP recovery to a decrease in SP usage for skills. The turn chain can be affected directly by the player, since skills have a different value depending on their strength. The larger the strength, the more the wait time they have, thus one may use less or more powerful skills to alter the portrait the maiden will occupy in the chain, in order to obtain the flash effect attributed to that portrait.
This being a game about idols and girls, a little bit of fanservice must exist. The main part of this resides in the ability of changing the girls’ outfits, but it does not end there. The maidens can be outfitted with dresses which have an effect on their combat prowess. When taking damage, the resistance of these dresses will decrease, and when a certain limit is surpassed, the dress begins to tear up. Not replacing the dress will result in the maidens fighting in their underwear, which will lose them the bonuses earned by the dress. Fortunately, these dresses can be repaired at the office and their bonuses restored. On the other hand of fanservice, there is an incredibly funny mechanic where if you move the camera below a certain level while platforming with Otoha, she will spin around and cover her crotch and shout something, generally “No! No looking!”, the first time of which I almost fell out of my chair with laughter. I swear I discovered this by accident and am not a pervert, but this little addition to the game, as small as it is, is incredibly awesome from the developer, and I am glad I noticed something as unusual as this.
Coming to the musical part of the game, apart from the weapons and spells which are called sound weapon and mic skills and energy skills respectively, the game features a PVS mode. PVS (Promotional Video System) involves customizing a performance to sort of create your own concert music video. This mode gives you total control of the different cameras and such, and even of the choreography, letting you choose the dance moves of each of the maidens. There are also advanced options which let you add variety to the performance, but since I am not a mixmaster pro I cannot delve into this myself.
Overall, Omega Quintet is one of the best JRPGs I have ever played. Its solid mix of old and new mechanics bring to the table something new which feels incredibly refreshing, while at the same time bringing the classic “I’ll do my best” vibe (and quote too!) from IF and Compile Heart’s Hyperdimension series which show the origins of the company. Well, both studios definitely have done their best to create a wonderful musical JRPG, which fuses the best of both worlds, without leaving anything behind.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.