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Omega Quintet (PlayStation 4) artwork

Omega Quintet (PlayStation 4) review

"Omega Quintet is not my favorite Compile Heart game, but itís certainly their most playable."

Compile Heart hasnít made a traditional turn-based JRPG since the original Hyperdimension Neptunia on the PS3, so itís interesting to see the developer return to this style of game with its first PS4 game, Omega Quintet.

Omega Quintet tells the tale of a world overrun with Blare, which are monsters born from a purple mist that have taken over almost everything. The last remnants of humanity are huddled into a single city protected by the Verse Maidens - female warriors who use their voice to dispel the Blare.

Omega Quintet (PlayStation 4) image

Verse Maidens are essentially idols of the singing and dancing variety. They wear frilly outfits, interact with fans and put on concerts while destroying monsters hell-bent on eradicating the human race.

Players control Takt, a boy scarred by the Blare as a child, who is childhood friends with an aspiring verse maiden named Otoha. Sooner rather than later, she gets her wish and becomes a proper Verse Maiden alongside four other girls who form the titular Omega Quintet.

Itís certainly an interesting setup and one that works rather well. I had my doubts at first, as combining Japanís idol culture with a fantasy RPG setting seemed rather odd, but itís surprisingly effective. Fantasy often features a populace grateful to heroes and itís not that far of a leap to imagine a world where those heroes also put on song and dance numbers to build up support outside of their combat duties.

Omega Quintet (PlayStation 4) image

While the story told over the course of 50 hours is probably Compile Heartís best to date, though, it still doesn't rank among the true greats. Thatís fine, however, as Compile Heart knows its niche and actively cultivates it with equal measures moe fluff and teen melodrama that only anime tropes can effectively convey.

Unfortunately, the normal ending is a major letdown and makes the previous 50 hours spent with the game feel kind of worthless. Itís nothing new for Compile Heart, but the conditions for attaining the true end are nowhere to be found. Most of their games offer some sort of hint, but I never found anything of the sort in my time with it. Thankfully, thereís a new game plus option so players determined to get the true end, like myself, will have an easier time of it the second time through.

The actual game is an entirely different story. I mentioned at the start that this is the first traditional JRPG Compile Heart has made in years and I mean that. Gone is the free movement during battle that was found in the Neptunia games. It has been replaced with static turn-based combat ŗ la early Final Fantasy games. Of course, it wouldnít be a Compile Heart outing without a few twists.

Omega Quintet (PlayStation 4) image

For starters, battles take place in rows with three rows allotted to enemies and allies. Depending on where the allies are positioned and their weapon, they will do more or less damage to enemies in the front row versus the back row. For instance, Nene - a gun user - is far more effective in the back row as her weapon can still deal max damage to an enemy in the middle row while protecting herself from the devastating attacks of enemies that only do max damage to your allies who are positioned in the front row.

Tact, the only playable male character in the game, provides combat with another interesting wrinkle. He can be partnered with one of the five girls and acts as a follow-up attacker and defender. The first role finds him attacking an enemy after a Verse Maiden, and in doing so delays that enemyís attack a turn. He can also defend against attacks, absorbing some of the damage and even sometimes negating status effects.

My favorite part of the combat system, however, is how turn order works. Each character starts off with the ability to attack only once per turn, but gains access to additional actions upon leveling up. From here, players must engage in a balancing act, preserving actions so that a characterís turn comes around faster, or spending all the actions and waiting longer for their next turn to arrive.

It gets even more interesting once the game adds the ability to deal overkill damage to enemies. From here, every attack that adds more damage over the enemyís stock HP adds an extra action to that characterís pool the next time theyíre up. For example, players could choose to either target two enemies killing them both with one turn, or go over the HP threshold of a single enemy to have four more actions available to use against the boss. It makes battles far more tactical than any of Compile Heartís previous games, and the experience is all the better for it.

Omega Quintet (PlayStation 4) image

Unfortunately, Compile Heart still seems to not be able to strike a decent balance with level and enemy progression. Itís gotten a little better, but there are still times where enemies 10 levels below the party can pose a threat while enemies 10 levels above are of no concern whatsoever.

Omega Quintetís greatest achievement is its map design. Previously, Compile Heart would simply create five or so templates and design linear dungeons around them that would often repeat. While there are fewer than 10 maps in Omega Quintet, the variety and scope has been vastly improved. Each map starts out small, but soon opens into a large world once party members gain more exploration abilities. For example, one character - Kanadeko - can kick down walls. Itís not uncommon to run across walls near the beginning that are impossible to kick down, but leveling up her ability will allow players to come back later and collect the reward hiding behind it. It encourages exploration in a way that many JRPGs before it have done, but itís a first for Compile Heart. Itís my sincerest hope that this element sticks around in subsequent games.

Of course, Iíd be remiss if I didnít touch upon how smoothly the game runs. Compile Heart games have a reputation of running poorly on the PS3, but the transition to the PS4 seems to have been kind to the developer. The visuals arenít much improved over their previous titles, but the game mostly sticks to a consistent frame rate. There were only a few times when I encountered slowdown, near the end of the game when small areas suddenly were stuffed with enemies.

Iíve been a fan of Compile Heart since the first Hyperdimension Neptunia, and Iíve played every one of their home console games since. Itís been interesting to watch each successive game evolve, and Omega Quintet continues that evolution. Itís not my favorite Compile Heart game, but itís certainly their most playable. Any fan of JRPGs, idols or moe with a PS4 will almost definitely have fun with this one.


Phazonmasher's avatar
Freelance review by Zachary Walton (April 28, 2015)

Zach Walton likes JRPGs, visual novels, horror games and anything that gives him an excuse to drink.

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