Unlike the PS3's initial years, the PS4 has had relatively little in terms of games for Japanese RPG fans. So when developer Compile Heart and publisher Idea Factory announced their plans to bring Omega Quintet to western shores, it got noticed a bit more than usual. Compile Heart has had a varied track record, with some duds like the Mugen Souls series but also good games like the Hyperdimension Neptunia series of games, and their recent JRPG Fairy Fencer F. So where does Omega Quintet fall into this mix? That depends on what you're looking to get out of the game.
Compile Heart has been known for parodying and poking fun at Japanese-specific tropes like idols and the gaming industry in Japan at large, and Omega Quintet follows in those footsteps in the developer's first PS4 outing. The game's world is overrun by an evil force known as "The Blare" who are killing people and laying waste to buildings. And it turns out the only people that can stand against those enemies are young women that make up a signing idol super group known collectively as "Verse Maidens".
It's about as silly in-game as it sounds, but Idea Factory did manage to integrate it into the gameplay in a non-superficial way. Like many of Compile Heart's games, battles are a turn-based affair where you approach an enemy in the dungeon to start a battle. You initially start out with only one verse maiden, gaining more as you progress further into the game for a total of five. Each has their own basic attack and skills, ranging from healing to ranged attacks. Par for most JRPGs, enemies have their own weaknesses and resistances to specific elements, so it becomes paramount that you think ahead as to which verse maiden you'll use to attack certain enemies to deal the most damage possible. And adding to this is a distance mechanic where you need to close enough to an enemy to even launch the attack proper, which becomes a paramount mechanic as you progress in the game.
The Idol part of the game plays into the battle mechanics by the way of the Verse Maiden's manager Takt. Although he isn't a party member in the battle proper, he can be tied to a specific verse maiden. This allows that verse maiden to either reduce damage by pressing a button in time with the enemy's attack or dealing more damage by pressing the button in time with the verse maiden's attack on an enemy. The Verse Maidens are being watched as they're taking out the Blare, so when performing those mechanics mentioned earlier properly you get "voltage" from the fans for a job well done. After raising the gauge high enough, you activate "Live Mode" which gives the verse maidens bonuses in battle. It's a nice touch for what has been a rote mindless button-clicking affair in some of the developer's previous titles.
Going back to the story, Omega Quintet starts off with the popular Miss Momoka retiring as a verse maiden, which causes five new Verse Maidens needing to be brought into the fold. The "player" is factored in here by the way of the new male manager Takt. While you control the Verse Maidens in battle and in the dungeons, you are force into playing as Takt while inside the Verse Maiden's headquarters and while talking to people.
As one would expect from the idol aspect and some of the developer's previous works, there is a bit of fan-service present here. Since Takt is the first non-female let into the headquarters, the game tends to bring that up along with all of the hijinks one would expect, which isn't lessened at all by the somewhat skimpy outfits the Verse Maidens wear around. Thankfully the developers never went anywhere risquÃ© with this, but I'd rather see the developers focus on the more grown-up story aspects they showed in Fairy Fencer F than pandering to the otaku culture.
Compile Heart also falls into the pacing trap many of the titles create with Omega Quintet, as finding out all that information listed above is drawn out for several hours, as it takes a few hours to get three-fifths of the cast and another couple hours onto that to get the full ensemble present and accounted for. Adding to this is the combat and exploration mechanic tutorials, adding up to at least several hours before the game stops nagging you with explanations. Fairy Fencer F had this issue to a degree, but this falls back into the severity the Mugen Souls series exhibited --- that isn't a good thing.
Compile Heart also falls into the trap of saying more than is necessary in the dialogue. A large portion of it is completely unnecessary, with the first couple lines usually being what you need to know to point you towards your next location. Cut-scenes tend to pop up at random, not just tied to specific events like starting the mission or completing the mission as I had some appear at random when walking around the dungeon. This tied with the game mechanics explanation mentioned earlier just serves to damper the experience.
There's some other features of note in the game, but sadly the developers ended up downplaying their usefulness in the game's execution of them. There's a weapon crafting system, but said weapons can also be found in the dungeons and often aren't worth the trouble of tracking down the materials to craft them proper. You can level up and enhance those weapons, but it feels more like a feature tacked on for show than being of any use in-game.
Omega Quintet also has a fully-featured idol music video system, which has a neat use of using the DualShock 4 to create light waves in the music video alongside being able to set the song, dance moves and layout of the music video. It's a neat side bonus, but players aren't really required to tinker with this feature and could easily miss if it they weren't looking for it. It ends up not really having a purpose outside of being a selling point for fans of Japan's idol culture.
Graphically, while there's textures that harken back to early PS3 levels, there isn't the usual jank and frame rate issues one's expected from a PS3 Compile Heart game present. Musically what's here is decent, but nothing noteworthy that stands out.
Omega Quintet is a hard game to quantify. It gets a lot of the core pieces right and gets rid of the engine issues the developer's been known for in the last generation, but it gets wrong a lot of little things that begin to add up as you progress further in the game. If you enjoy Japanese idol culture or are a fan of the developer's past titles you'll get your worth out of this game, but those who were expecting something closer to Fairy Fencer F will be disappointed.
|The usual frame rate and graphical issues that frequent Compile Heart's games isn't present here.|
|Battle system is a nice improvement over the developer's previous works.|
|The idol music video system system, while superfluous, is quite detailed and is almost another game in itself.|
|Some features feel like they're tacked on for bullet points or because they were in one of the developer's previous titles.|
|Excessive amount of tutorials, which make the storyline take longer than needed to get going proper.|
|A decent amount of the dialogue is simply fluff and could have been condensed.|