The Nomad Soul
Review by Old Rooster
First: A Personal Word, If I May
I'm pleased and proud to be associated with the Chicks and this
fine group of adventure gamers. As a PC player, my tastes range
from pure adventures, with stories and puzzles, to RPGs, action,
and strategy games. My review emphasis for FFC will primarily
be on hybrid kind of gamesthose emphasizing story, locale,
and perhaps also a bit of action (even killing). I'll be looking
at such older titles as Omikron, Nocturne, and American
McGee's Alice and newer efforts, including Project Eden,
Gothic, and Evil Twin. Please always feel free to write
or comment in the Henhouse.
Impressions of games are subjective, after all is said and done,
and I do hope we have fun together, which is really what this
gaming thing is all about! And now on to Omikron.
For the Price of a #1 Value Meal...
...You can experience Sham Steak and Quanta Cola at the Tahira
St. Grill in the city of Omikron. Stores have this two-year-old
title for as low as $5, giving you an inexpensive opportunity
to visit a virtual world and experience a complex story that may
have you missing a meal or two, as well as a little sleep!
The French Do Have a Flair
Omikron is an involved, intricate, even mysterious adventure
game, with strong action components, as well as the likeness and
music of David Bowie. Like Outcast, it can puzzle and frustrate
the gamer, while also consistently entertaining him. Over the
course of 40+ hours of play, needing to resort to advice and a
walkthrough at times, I've had some mixed feelings, but I have
concluded that this game is creative, imaginative, innovative,
and worthy of your consideration, especially for as low as $5.
French developers seem to have a way or style that lends itself
to colorful (both figuratively and literally) game presentations.
From the Twinsen series to Rayman 2 and the
recently released Evil Twin, we typically find beautiful,
huge, complex, layered game worlds.
Even my game-cynic wife was impressed by the invitation of Kay'l,
a policeman from a parallel universe, to "cross the breach"
into his world to set some things rightyou're not sure what,
with the unraveling being a large part of the fun. Much like the
wonderful Outcast, the gamer is thrust into a strange,
even bizarre situation. The world of Omikron is amazingly
realized, with a Blade Runner sort of atmosphere. One can
traverse and view the city in a complete and nonlinear way. NPC
interactions are plentiful; a map can be consulted; and even a
taxi hailed. Additionally, you may play (necessarily at times)
40 other potential characters.
How Is the Game Set up and Managed?
Omikron needs a PII 233 with 32 MB RAM, a 4 MB video card,
and 350 MB HD space. On my PIII 450, it ran without a hitch or
a crash. The 39-page manual does a fine job of introducing you
to the techniques you'll need to navigate through the city of
Omikron. Your backpack ("Sneak") holds 18 items, quite
necessary for the amount of exploring you'll need to do, with
larger lockers also accessible at frequent points in your journey.
"Save Rings" need to be found in order to activate a
console-type save system, although one not nearly as onerous as,
for example, the recent Jekyll & Hyde.
Fighting and shooting form a significant part of gameplay, with
the up-to-50-move, hand-to-hand combat my least favorite part
of the game. These skills can be enhanced with practice against
virtual "bots" and visits to a shooting range. The developers
apparently intended some mix of genres (fighting, shooting, adventure);
but the game remains primarily an adventurewith some of
these other components either "frosting on the cake"
or "off-putting," depending on your point of view.
How Does it Look and Sound?
From the overview and detailing of structures and rooms to the
wonderful facial expressions, Omikron's graphic engine
is most impressive, even by today's vaunted standards. As to sound
and music, Omikron has four hours of spoken dialogue, believable
voice acting, and convincing environmental ambience. Background
musical tracks are by Bowie and Gabrels, and Bowie virtual concerts
are available. The contributions of David Bowie to the game are
real and impressive.
How Does the Game Play?
From the compelling initial invitation ("come, help us in
our World") to the suspenseful detective-like exploration
of a strange land, Omikron will have you thinking and wondering,
not only while at your PC, but while driving, eating, sleeping.
Who Will You Be After You Die?
Perhaps the most innovative aspect of Omikron is "reincarnation."
If you fatally lose a fight (and I did, a lot!), you possess the
body and "soul" of a nearby character, with all their
peculiar attributes. Sometimes this is pushed on you (there is
a degree of linearity in the game), and at other times it's voluntary.
But, in either case, the 40 or so characters you can play add
a highly entertaining and involved component of Omikron. Although
keeping most of your inventory, including the critical Save Rings,
during the "changeover," fighting and shooting skills
do need to be relearned. The specific "bodies/souls"
may have their own attributes, as well. Iman (yes, Bowie's virtual
friend) has a 60 rated speed skill, 850 seteks (currency), and
a 70 attack level; while Fodo has a 100 energy and 110 attack
rating, and the multitude of others have similar variations. Pick
and choose your souls carefully in your nomadic quest!
Your initial incarnation, Kay'l, has no memory and only an apartment
key to begin. He does have a wife, and there are other clues/items
in his flat to get you started. From there you can explore, interact
with NPCs (some highly significant), engage in missions. All of
this can be done in an open-ended manner, although there is a
degree of linearity to the game in order to allow a progression
and some sense of closure. You'll need to accumulate money, find
important objects, secure nourishment (Kloops beer is my favorite),
acquire healthcare, and visit bookstores and the library for background
Who Needs Viagra?
Omikron has a teen-plus rating, which should be taken
seriously. This is not a full-family gaming experience. Not only
is the general atmosphere of this world of "opulent decadence"
adult, but there are situations and comments not for the kidslike
the supermarket loudspeaker ad proclaiming the virtues of a "biomechanical
penis implant," guaranteed "replaceable in 48 hours
if defective"! That one brought my wife in for a look (at
Is the Game Fun and Recommended?
Clearly, in spite of some warts and minor annoyances, I find
Omikron to be one of the most memorable games I've played
in the last few years. There's a lot I'm leaving unsaid, in order
not to spoil the joy of exploration and discovery you'll experiencea
lot more fun than can be had from the $5 you might spend on that
#1 value meal. It's a tough and long game but also atmospheric
and immersive (hate those words, but they really apply here),
even haunting. So, if you can tolerate (or even enjoy) the 20%
action/fighting in order to appreciate the 80% adventure and mystery-solving,
Omikron is highly recommended as a unique and very underappreciated
What I Liked the Most
There's a huge city to explore; the story is engrossing and long;
reincarnation is a neat twist on playing roles and using different
What I Liked the Least
The game is often tough and ambiguous; fighting can be difficult;
you can't walk out of the Bowie concerts!
Release Date: 1999
Four Fat Chicks Links
PII 233 (PII 300 recommended)
32 MB RAM
4 MB video card (8 MB recommended)
350 MB free HD space (1.2 GB recommended)
Where to Find It
Links provided for informational purposes only.
FFC makes no warranty with regard to any transaction entered into
by any party(ies).