- Developer: Tiny Bull Studios
- Publisher: Forever Entertainment S.A.
- Release Date: 29/08/2019
- Price: £8.99 / $9.99
- Review code provided by Forever Entertainment S.A.
A Return to the 80s
As a huge fan of 80s and 90s gamebooks (from Fighting Fantasy to Fabled Lands), when I saw the code for this game come our way I knew I had to try it. A game on my favourite console inspired by gamebooks, and based on the universe created by H.P. Lovecraft on top of that? Yes please, I couldn’t resist.
Omen Exitio: Plague is a Lovecraftian horror choose your own adventure game set in 1896 and inspired by the gamebooks of old. You play as Jake Huntington, a doctor from London who has enlisted in the army to escape his past life and try to forget the pain of his late wife’s passing after failing to cure her of her disease.
Upon arrival in Zanzibar – an island to which you are deployed – you are made aware of a bizarre and deadly illness and approached by a mysterious benefactor. Throughout the game you meet a large and varied cast of interesting characters and begin to unravel a mystery of cosmic proportions.
Turn to Page 42
As an experience that harkens back to classic gamebooks, the gameplay in itself is very basic; you either press a button on your controller or tap the screen to move to the next page (depending on your preferred method of playing), and read the story that is presented to you. Simple, but if this is your thing, it won’t get stale. The writing is fantastic and of a very high quality throughout. There are of course a great deal of choices to be made during the story and it will be made very clear when those choices are.
You also possess a character sheet which you will be regularly returning to in order to increase your stats in the areas of Fighting, Observation, Medicine, Agility, and Speechcraft. Having a higher rank in any of these areas will give you a higher chance in succeeding in tasks associated with them. This also means that if one of your stats is very low, certain choices may be all but useless to you. You will earn XP to spend on increasing your stats by meeting new characters and completing key events throughout the game.
To progress the story you are required to make choices to the best of your ability and see where your actions lead you. There are a variety of in game achievements that certain actions will allow you to achieve, but you are unlikely to succeed in all of them. During my playthrough I thought I was doing something very wrong as I failed the majority of the early achievements.
‘Do not judge a book by its cover’ Or Whatever.
To anyone unfamiliar with this style of game, the artstyle may appear unremarkable and dull. While sure it’s no Breath of the Wild, the game does a fantastic job at being what it is – an interactive book. The utilized style is pleasing and competent, it does everything it needs to. It manages to keep things readable and undistracting while remaining interesting, making a lot of use of simple sketches on pages of the book to give some visual context to the story.
One thing I was suprisingly impressed with was the audio. Yes, this book has audio. Throughout the game there is a consistent eerie soundtrack in the background. While it is mostly the same, it does not feel repetitive or get annoying. Quite the opposite. And the sound effects on certain pages relating things that are happening in the scene (gunfire etc.) are perfectly subdued as to not feel overpowering or distracting, but still stand out enough from the eerie backing noise to really add something extra.
Is There a Page Missing?
I wish I could just sing the praises of this game but unfortunately, like most things, it’s not without flaws; oh, how I wish it was perfect. There were a small handful of spelling mistakes and typos throughout the game, a little bothersome but nothing that can’t be ignored.
The real problem lies with a couple of choices I made. At one point the text did not line up with what happened, allow me to ellaborate: I managed to retrieve an item, the game promptly told me that I was frustrated having failed to retrieve it. So I was naturally unsure. Later however, I did end up using the item – so I guess I did retrieve it after all. I really hope that a future update is implimented to fix continuity errors like these. It’s worth noting that I only encountered something like this twice, and it didn’t affect my experience a great deal, it’s just an annoying mistake.
That’s a Wrap Folks
Omen Exitio: Plague is a very special game. It’s a wonderfully haunting tale, sporting an equally interesting mystery. Rising from the ashes of a genre long past, you see very few titles of this ilk anymore. The only thing comparable that is still so widespread is visual novels; as much as I like them, they fail to capture the same charm for me. Setting aside the few issues I encountered, issues which only slightly mar the experience on rare occasions, fans of gamebooks/choose your own adventures will enjoy this greatly. The music and sound effects are a welcome addition and the menus feel smooth and fitting. If you are at all interested, I implore you to check out this game, the price is low enough to be worth a try.
- Engrossing and well-written story
- Consistent and fitting style
- Interesting and unique characters
- Generally, choices feel like they matter
- Fantastic use of sound effects
- Occasional spelling mistakes and typos
- Very few minor continuity errors (may vary depending on the choices you make)
Omen Exitio: Plague is a rare gem of a game that blends Lovecraftian horror with a rich original story to craft a wonderfully haunting experience.