Omori (video game)
Switch, Xbox One, Series X/S
Omori (stylized as OMORI) is a 2020 role-playing video game developed and published by indie studio Omocat.[b] In the story, the player controls a hikikomori boy named Sunny and his dream world alter-ego Omori. They explore both the real world and a surreal dream world to overcome their fears and secrets. How they interact depends on choices made by the player, resulting in one of several endings. The game's turn-based battle system includes unconventional status effects based on the characters' emotions. Prominently featuring concepts such as anxiety, depression and trauma, the game has psychological horror elements.
The game is based on the director's Omori (ひきこもり, hikikomori) webcomic series. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the game was delayed numerous times and experienced several development difficulties. It was eventually released for Windows and macOS in December 2020, six years after its initial funding. It would also see a release on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 4 with added content in June 2022. Omori was acclaimed by critics, who lauded it for its graphics, narrative elements, soundtrack, and depiction of anxiety and depression. The game was favorably compared to games such as EarthBound and Yume Nikki, and went on to be nominated for several awards, winning DreamHack's "Daringly Dramatic" category in 2021.
Omori's gameplay is inspired by traditional Japanese role-playing games. The player controls a party of four characters: Omori, Aubrey, Kel, and Hero. Each possesses their own unique skills for use both in battle and in overworld traversal.
The overworld portion is played from a top-down perspective. The game features side quests and puzzles for the player to solve, bestowing them with various rewards and skills upon completion. Beneficial weapons and items can be obtained throughout the game, with some being purchasable using the game's currency, Clams. Outside of battle, the party can heal and save by encountering a picnic blanket, associated with Omori's older sister Mari.
Battles are played out in a turn-based format in which each party member performs a move. After attacking, party members can work together to perform "follow up" attacks. Follow ups use "energy," a collective resource which starts at 3 at the start of each battle, and is gained when a party member takes damage, up to a maximum of 10. Characters and enemies have heart, which functions as health points; if damage is taken, it decreases, and if it reaches zero, the character is defeated and turns into toast. The juice meter is used to perform skills, special abilities which aid in battle.
Unlike most role-playing games, status effects are based on a three-pointed emotion system. A party member or opponent's emotion can change throughout the course of a battle, usually due to moves by another party member or enemy. Neutral is the baseline and has no effects, Angry increases attack but lowers defense, Sad increases defense but lowers speed, and Happy increases speed but lowers accuracy. Emotions are either strong or weak against each other – Happy beats Angry, Angry beats Sad, and Sad beats Happy. Additionally, higher-intensity variants of each emotion also exist.
The titular main character, Omori, awakens in the "White Space", a small white room he has lived in "for as long as [he] can remember". He enters a door to the vibrant world of "Headspace", where he meets his older sister Mari and his friends, Aubrey, Kel, Hero, and Basil. They look through their shared memories through Basil's photo album and then decide to visit his house, with Mari staying behind. Along the way Kel and Aubrey scuffle, damaging the album. When the kids arrive, Basil comes across an unfamiliar photo from the album and panics. Omori is suddenly teleported back to White Space alone. He stabs himself with his knife, revealing the previous events to be the dreams of a teenage boy, Sunny.
Waking up in bed, the player discovers that Sunny is moving out in three days. He goes downstairs for a midnight snack, but is confronted by a nightmarish hallucination symbolizing his fear. He is able to dispel it by taking deep breaths and returns to bed. Awakening once again in White Space, Omori reunites with Aubrey, Kel, and Hero. They discover that Basil has gone missing and set out to rescue him. The four explore the various regions of Headspace in search of Basil, with Mari assisting along the way. The group is continuously diverted from their search by various situations, leading their memory of Basil to gradually fade away.
Meanwhile, in the waking world, Mari had committed suicide four years ago, which led to the friend group diverging. Although Kel and Hero have managed to recover to a limited degree, Sunny became an estranged shut-in, Aubrey left after feeling betrayed by the group's apparent indifference to Mari's death, and Basil became neurotic and paranoid. Kel knocks on Sunny's door in an attempt to reconnect one last time. The player can either ignore Kel or answer the door: if they choose the former, Sunny stays inside for the remaining three days, immersing himself in housework and his dreams.
If the latter option is chosen, Sunny and Kel venture outside to find Aubrey and her new friends bullying Basil. The two find out that she had stolen Basil's real-life photo album, ostensibly to stop him from vandalizing it. After fighting Aubrey again they retrieve the album and return it to Basil, though some photos are missing. As he believes Sunny needs it more, he lends the album to him. While eating dinner together, Basil becomes mortified as he learns of Sunny's impending departure and rushes to the bathroom. Sunny finds him in the midst of a hallucinatory panic attack similar to his own, but refuses to help despite his distress. The next day, Kel and Sunny find Aubrey's gang surrounding Basil in their old hangout spot; after confronting her, she pushes Basil into a lake out of frustration. Sunny dives in to rescue Basil despite not knowing how to swim, and the two are saved from drowning by the arrival of Hero. In headspace, Omori and his friends return to Basil's now-dilapidated house. Omori jumps through a hole in the floor into the more disturbing "Black Space". Basil appears many times within it, repeatedly attempting to talk to him about something before dying gruesomely. In the final room, Omori kills Basil and places himself atop a throne of massive, red hands.
On the last day before Sunny's departure, the others reconcile with Aubrey and find the missing photos. Coming to terms with Mari's death, they decide to spend their final night together in Basil's house, despite him refusing to leave his room. In his sleep, Sunny confronts the truth in his dreams: in an argument before their recital, he accidentally pushed Mari down their staircase, killing her. In denial that Sunny did it, Basil helped him frame the death as suicide by hanging her corpse. As they left, they glanced at Mari's body and saw an open eye staring back at them, shaping their subsequent hallucinations. While Basil was consumed by guilt and self-loathing, Sunny's suicidal depression made him create Headspace and his dream persona Omori to repress his trauma. To hide the truth, Omori reset Headspace every time memories of the incident escaped from Black Space. Sunny then wakes up in the middle of the night, leaving the player with the choice of either confronting Basil or falling back to sleep.
If the player chooses to confront Basil, the latter cordially greets Sunny in his room. However, he quickly loses his temper over Sunny's absence after Mari's death, and the two boys enter a delusional state and start fighting. After Basil stabs Sunny with his garden shears, both of them pass out. While unconscious, Sunny recalls his childhood with his friends and Mari, giving him the strength to face Omori. Refusing to die, Omori defeats Sunny, causing the player to receive a game over screen.
- If the player opts to try again, Sunny gets up and performs with Mari for their recital, and Omori hugs him before disappearing. In the real world, Sunny wakes up in the hospital. He heads to Basil's room and encounters his friends inside, and it is implied that Sunny tells them the truth about Mari's death. Additionally, if the player watered Basil's garden daily in Headspace, an after-credits scene will depict Basil waking up to the sight of Sunny in the hospital. The two smile at each other and their hallucinations disappear.
- Should the player choose not to continue, Sunny disappears rather than Omori. After waking up in the hospital, he commits suicide by jumping off the balcony.
Alternatively, if the player ignores Basil on the final day, Sunny and his friends will wake up to discover that Basil has committed suicide. Depending on the player's choice, Sunny can then either kill himself with his knife or move away with his guilt still unabated as sirens ring out in the distance. If the player initially chooses to remain inside and avoid Kel, only a variant of this ending is available.
Development and release
Omori was developed over the course of six and a half years, directed by pseudonymous artist Omocat.[b] It is based on Omori (ひきこもり, hikikomori) , a webcomic Tumblr blog Omocat created to "help [them] cope with [their] problems during a confusing part of [their] life." Initially planned as a graphic novel, they switched its medium to a video game to enable the audience to make choices in the story. For the game engine, they chose RPG Maker, as they deemed it important to support an accessible platform and community.
A Kickstarter campaign was launched in 2014, and was successfully funded within one day, with an initial projected release date of May 2015. A Nintendo 3DS port was promised as a stretch goal, but ultimately never came to fruition due to the discontinuation of the console; backers were instead offered a Nintendo Switch port. To aid the game's creation, Omocat hired several additional team members, including an RPG Maker expert, but still had a goal of keeping the team size small. Initially, they enlisted their musician friends Space Boyfriend and Slime Girls to help with the soundtrack; after being inspired by bo en's "My Time" and coming up with the idea of hidden music tracks, they contacted him as well.
As development continued, the team had to change their version of the RPG Maker engine, using this opportunity to refine the game's visual style, story, and gameplay. After crowdfunding money was exhausted, they relied on merchandise sales to continue development. The game would be delayed into 2019 and early 2020, but would again miss both targets.
Later in 2020, Omori received its final release date of December 25, when it was released on Microsoft Windows and macOS via Steam. Initially available only in English, the Japanese localization was released on December 16, 2021. Following this, the support for Simplified Chinese and Korean languages was added on March 18, 2022.
The Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One versions of Omori were first announced during Playism's Tokyo Game Show 2019 presentation on September 11. Playism also announced it would be working on a Japanese release of the game, which was initially planned for 2020, but later delayed. During an Indie World presentation in December 2021, it was announced that a Nintendo Switch version would release in Q2 2022. The Nintendo Switch and Xbox One/Series X/S ports and a new port for Windows 10 were eventually released digitally on June 17, 2022, with the PlayStation 4 port being released on June 24, 2022. These versions were developed by MP2 Games, and feature additional content not found in the original Steam release. The physical edition by Fangamer for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 was initially planned to launch on the same date, but did not launch until early July.
|PC Gamer (US)||80/100|
Omori received generally favorable reviews, with the PC version earning an aggregated score of 87 out of 100 on Metacritic. PC Gamer reviewer Rachel Watts praised both its combat and gameplay, saying the game had "all the makings of being a modern cult classic". Patrick Hancock of Destructoid stated that he didn't "know the last game that really hit me so emotionally like [it] did", but criticized many gameplay elements, stating that they could ruin the experience for some players.
Multiple publications positively reviewed the game's depiction of anxiety and depression, with Rock Paper Shotgun reviewer Kat Bailey comparing it to her real-life experiences. According to her, the game managed to take overused themes regarding the subject and create a "memorable darkness". Watts stated that the game "captures this sentiment [of overcoming anxiety] masterfully", but criticised some parts of the game for being too dark.
A majority of reviewers praised the game's writing and tone, comparing it to games such as EarthBound, Undertale, and Yume Nikki. Writing for Wired magazine, reviewer Julie Fukunaga commended the depth and psychological themes of the narrative, stating that "it is in this medium that Omori thrives". Hancock praised the "juxtaposition" of serious and discomfiting themes with whimsical moments, stating he sometimes thought of the game's jokes "on a weekly basis".
Reviewers' opinion of the game's combat varied. Hancock criticised the lack of strategical depth, stating that he "found a strategy that worked and basically just repeated it ad nauseam", and claiming that the combat was "hardly necessary". Opposingly, Bailey praised the game's "well-executed" combat and "difficult" bosses, stating that they helped break up some of the dungeons. In her review, Rachel Watts complimented the way the game's abilities made the party feel like a cohesive unit.
The art direction also received positive reactions. Watts praised the art direction of the monsters, stating the mix of different art styles "really heightens the horror". The "anime-style cut-ins" were praised by Bailey, who called them "surprisingly well-animated". Despite his criticism of the game's battles, Hancock stated he often anticipated them due to the artstyle, calling it "nothing short of phenomenal".
Omori received two Honorable Mentions at the 2021 Independent Games Festival. It was also nominated for three categories in DreamHack's 2021 "Dreamies" awards, winning the "Daringly Dramatic" prize.
- Ported to consoles by MP2 Games
- "Omocat" was initially solely the moniker of the original developer, but was later expanded to refer to the whole development studio.
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