Omikron: The Nomad Soul
|Omikron: The Nomad Soul|
|Release date(s)||Microsoft Windows
|Distribution||CD-ROM, GD-ROM, download|
Omikron: The Nomad Soul (known as The Nomad Soul in Europe) is an adventure game developed by Quantic Dream and published by Eidos Interactive for Microsoft Windows and Dreamcast. While the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 versions were in development for a short time, after the commercial failure of the Dreamcast version they were cancelled altogether.
The Nomad Soul is set in a futuristic city known as Omikron, which is a densely populated metropolis on the world of Phaenon, the second planet of the star Rad'an. At the start of the game, players are asked by an Omikronian police officer named Kay'l 669 to leave their dimension and enter Omikron within his body (thereby breaking the fourth wall). After doing so, players continue with the investigation of serial killings that Kay'l and his partner Den were originally working on, attempting to pick up where Kay'l was apparently stopped from investigating. The city of Omikron exists beneath an enormous crystal dome, which was constructed to protect against the ice age that Phaenon entered into after its sun's extinction. The city is split into different sectors: Anekbah, Qalisar, Jaunpur, Jahangir and Lahoreh. Because it is forbidden for the inhabitants to leave their respective sectors, each area has developed uniquely, which is reflected by the diverging lifestyles and architecture. Common to all Omikronians, however, is the heavily oppressive and controlling government, which is run by a supercomputer called Ix.
Soon after the beginning of the game's introduction, the player begins the investigation in the Anekbah sector. He uncovers information that suggests the serial killer he is looking for is in fact not human but actually a demon. When members of an apparent underground, anti-government movement contact the player and confirm his suspicions, the investigation deepens and uncovers information; one of Omikron's chief police commanders, Commandant Gandhar, is a demon pretending to be human and lures human souls into Omikron from other dimensions by way of the Omikron video game. Kay'l 669 asking the player to help him was a trap: supposedly, if the in-game character dies, the real human playing the video game will lose their soul forever. Despite many assassination attempts on the protagonist's life by other demons working behind the scenes, the player destroys Gandhar with supernatural weaponry.
After this brief victory, the player is invited to join the mysterious anti-government movement named "The Awakened" (referring to the fact the characters have "awakened" from the lies and drugs of the government). The Awakened work in tandem with an ancient religious order who are led by Boz, a mystical being that exists in purely electronic form on the computer networks of Omikron. The Awakened refer to the protagonist as the "Nomad Soul" since he has the ability to change bodies at will. The Nomad Soul learns afterwards that what is going on in Omikron is merely an extension of a thousands-of-years-old battle between mankind and demons led by the powerful Astaroth. Astaroth, who was banished to the depths of Omikron long ago, is slowly regenerating power while using demons to both collect souls and impersonate high members of the government; he believes he can eventually take complete control and move across Phaenon and the Universe beyond. Only by harnessing ancient, magical technology and by re-discovering several hidden tombs underneath Omikron's surface, can the Nomad Soul hope to discover how to destroy Astaroth, return to his own dimension, and prevent his soul from being captured by demons.
The game combines the mechanics of distinct game genres such as adventure games, first person shooters, fighting games, and even elements of a puzzle game. Its primary genre is adventure, with the other elements only played out during key moments as the story progresses.
One of the main features in this game is the possibility to reincarnate in a different world character upon the death of the one you "incarnated" in. However, doing so results in all character stats resetting prompting the gamer to fight in tournaments or buy more potions to jot stats back up.
David Bowie, who had some input on the storyline and game's design, makes two cameo appearances within the game, although not as himself; first as Boz, a game character who's a revolutionary wanted by authorities, and secondly as the nameless lead-singer of the fictional musical group, "The Dreamers", who perform illegal concerts in Omikron. In addition, select tracks from his (then) upcoming 'Hours...' album were written specifically for the game and then rewritten for the album release. For example, for the song "New Angels of Promise" (used in the game's intro), Bowie changed the chorus lyric Omikron to Suspicious Minds.
The game's soundtrack is a main feature as well, featuring songs and instrumentals by Bowie and Reeves Gabrels (most of which appeared on 'Hours...' or as B-sides on the associated single for the song "Thursday's Child"), several other instrumentals written by Gabrels, with additional composition work by Xavier Despas. Most of Bowie's songs are then available (in-game only) for later listening either if the player opts to "buy" the recordings or simply walk into an apartment that already has some of the music laid out in plain view or in hidden compartments. Bowie's wife Iman also makes a cameo as one of the numerous Omikronian citizens the player can "reincarnate" into.
While the game received mixed critical reaction, it achieved enough commercial success to convince Quantic Dream to start production on a sequel. Series creator David Cage claimed to receive dozens of emails every day (more than three years after the game's release) from fans worldwide asking for a sequel. Titled Nomad Soul: Exodus, it was to take place hundreds of years after the events in the first game. Ties were severed with Eidos, leaving Quantic Dream to move to Vivendi Universal, and then Atari, to pursue their next project Fahrenheit (known as Indigo Prophecy in the US).
On 6 April 2005, Omikron 2 and a new franchise, Infraworld, were announced to be in development. David Cage confirmed at the time that they dropped the subtitle Exodus in favor of Karma. Infraworld was canned only a few months later as "the concept did not appeal to its publishers". Because of Fahrenheit's surprise critical and commercial success, Karma was temporarily put on hiatus to focus production on Heavy Rain (an extension of the Fahrenheit formula). A critical story element in Cage's Beyond: Two Souls is the realm known as the Infraworld, indicating that the original Infraworld may have been a prototypical form of Beyond: Two Souls, or simply something that was reused.
References in Fahrenheit
Omikron makes a cameo appearance in Fahrenheit in the form of a news story, which can be read by Tyler Miles when he logs onto the internet from his work terminal. It can also be read by Carla Valenti in her apartment, when she logs onto her computer. Another reference to the game in Fahrenheit can be seen where the character Tyler has a small figure of the robot Soks and refers to him as "his favourite character from his favourite video game."
- "The Nomad Soul - PlayStation". IGN. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- "The Nomad Soul - PlayStation 2". IGN. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- "Omikron: The Nomad Soul - Credits". Allgame. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- "Omikron: The Nomad Soul for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- "Omikron: The Nomad Soul for Dreamcast". GameRankings. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- "Omikron Game: Exodus: Myth or Reality?". Omikron Blogspot. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- Walden, Fabian (9 February 2006). "Omikron Game: WT Interview Quantic Dream Q&A". Omikron Blogspot. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- Official Quantic Dream site
- Omikron game day by day All production cycle to the newest interviews
- Omikron: The Nomad Soul at MobyGames