Omega Quintet: I am the alpha and the *ω*
Editor’s note: I’ll be comparing this game to Hyperdimension Neptunia a lot. Both are silly JRPGs by Compile Heart, so if you’re interested in one you’re probably interested in the other, but more importantly Omega Quintet is also based on a moderately modified Neptunia engine.
Editor’s second note: I do not actually have an editor.
All in all, Omega Quintet is pretty much what you expect for better or worse. Fairly low budget, the story is focused on humor rather than complexity or intrigue, graphics aren’t impressive, but the one thing that really stands out is the gameplay, specifically the combat.
Combat is really where *ω* Quintet shines–using a somewhat heavily modified version of the Neptunia Victory engine, *ω* Quintet uses a turn based system with turn delay and a visible turn order counter that indicates the reordering your actions will cause, much like Final Fantasy X. Somewhat like Xenosaga you can perform multiple actions per turn based on your Action Points, letting you use multiple skills, multiple attacks, or even multiple items.
Also like Final Fantasy X there is a “sensor” sort of thing that will passively show you the HP and elemental weaknesses of the current target–pressing Triangle will also show you all of a target’s attacks and status effect resistances, making this one of precious few games where you can actually plan to use status effects on bosses without a guide. Bosses always resist many effects of course but almost always have at least one status that is partially effective on them.
*ω* has a “voltage” gauge that is partially a reskinned EXE gauge from Neptunia, but in addition to spending the meter on one-off powerful skills Voltage is a lot less broken than EXE in Neptunia, as it isn’t easily farmed without spending SP, and Special Skills cost a fair bit of SP too.
Harmonics is a skill you can use to combine everyone’s turn into a giant “super turn” if their turns all line up on the turn meter In the below image, all 4 characters at the top would combine into a single turn, but not the fifth girl. During Harmonics you can freely switch between characters to queue up attacks as you please, allowing for things like buffing/debuffing before hitting off attacks. Harmonics also enable Chain Skills, which execute when specific skills are used by different characters–a handy menu is provided to directly select a Chain Skill instead of manually remembering each combo.
Harmonics uses up Takt’s Action Points, which do not replenish each turn unlike the girls, so there is a limited number of times you can use Harmonics each battle. In addition to Harmonics, Takt’s action points can be used for a “paired defense” action to significantly reduce damage from an attack targeting the girl he’s paired to, or to use a turn-delaying sword attack to follow up her attacks. Takt does not directly take part in combat outside of these actions as he is basically a third (sixth?) wheel.
Characters have sort-of “classes” due to what weapons they use–5 weapon types, one for each character, though each can use any weapon you give them and if you like you can easily break anyone out of their intended role. Each weapon buffs two stats and uses those two stats to determine damage dealt. As characters use weapons they gain Proficiency, improving their ability to use that weapon, giving Sphere Grid points and also improving the number of times per turn you can attack when using that weapon by raising Action Points. Action Points can even be used to use multiple items or spells per turn, not just basic attacks.
Area of Effect management is a big part of combat, and in normal fights you’ll often want to plan out your AOE for simultaneous kills (which grant extra experience!). You can also change your character’s positions to let you hit more characters with AOE heals/buffs. Unlike Neptunia, positioning is based on a simple grid with fixed slots instead of a free-roam movement, making AOE targeting a bit more like an SRPG than Quest 64 style.
Managing SP becomes very important in *ω*, and you may find yourself stopping in the middle of a boss fight to top everyone off before resuming your attacks. It’s very easy to burn up SP too fast if you’re careless as you may easily use very expensive skills, but being able to use many SP healing items per turn can help.
Somewhat like Senran Kagura this game has a Costume Break feature, though unlike Senran Kagura you are at a fairly extreme gameplay disadvantage should this happen, and you can switch outfits mid-combat to stave off those effects. When your costume is broken your Voltage gauge decreases each time a character with no costume takes a turn, and you can’t activate Live Concert mode–both features are very important for boss fights. Fittingly, many bosses will have attacks that do major clothes damage, so owning multiple outfits is important in a boss fight. The characters also incessantly whine when their clothes are damaged or destroyed (I can’t imagine why) which serves as a secondary motivator to fix up clothes.
The primary source of difficulty in the game, at least as I experienced it, is Order Breaking. Order Breaks are actions enemies can take that breaks turn order, bringing their turn to front no matter what. They will often then perform an extremely powerful attack–it might be Area of Effect, it might be high damage, it might inflict multiple status ailments, it might be all three.
Order Breaks usually occur when you “piss off” a boss–deplete it’s health or kill it’s minions, and it’ll probably Order Break and do something nasty. This brings an interesting tension to boss fights and you’ll want to take care of “trash” mobs slowly, not hit too hard in one turn, spend some time building buffs and even defend instead of throwing on extra damage sometimes. Defending with extra Action Points left protects you from status effects too, one of the primary results of Order Breaks. Take boss fights slowly so you can recover from Order Breaks as they happen and the game should go far smoother.
The game is fairly careful about dishing out Order Breaks–they do not exist in Easy Mode (making the game a breeze) and do not show up from normal enemies until late game in Medium difficulty. Order Breaks can be frustrating if you don’t understand them, and the game does a poor job of teaching you why they happen. But that’s why you have good ol’ TapTap watching your back. I initially hated this source of random difficulty, but after understanding that it’s not random I quite like it.
Almost every game over I’ve gotten was a direct result of Order Breaks, so prepare for them. It’s probably more important to prepare for Order Breaks than anything else in a boss fight–a few bosses that seemed to be absolute jokes turned out to have devastating Order Break abilities. Somewhat similar, bosses may also power up depending on your Voltage Level, so burning off Voltage can be important if a boss has such skills–you can always check with the Sensor thing to see if they have Voltage-related skills.
Costume Break and pairing really do feel a bit forced compared to the other combat systems. Takt’s paired attack/defense is actually fairly significant but it just feels so weird compared to the other combat mechanics. The Costume Break just feels like they tried to cram some fanservice in there but Costume Break is such a majorly bad status it’s a really inappropriate time to be oogling. I don’t mind Senran Kagura’s fanservice as it’s well integrated into the gameplay and is basically part of the game–in this case it just feels crammed in and poorly done to boot.
The story is more or less what you expect, for better or worse. Cute quirky anime girls vs big scary monsters, singing to defeat the blah blah you get it already. The writing is humorous and light, but not of the quality of the Neptunia series or Fairy Fencer F before it, and I found myself skimming text somewhat often. There are some decently written moments, particularly featuring the “rival” not-quite-antagonist and Momoka, the washed-up Verse Maiden. Both get some nice burns in here and there but the quality isn’t consistent and the rivalry bubbles out a bit too early.
The main characters aren’t really as good as Fairy Fencer F and definitely well below the quality of Neptunia’s characters. You’ve got your airhead, your weird shy girl, your other, even shyer girl, your athletic fun loving and kinda stupid girl, your cool headed outsider girl. The character interactions fall back on the same few jokes too often and while they’re some light fun it’s really not enough for the game’s length. More variety of jokes would have helped a ton.
The story takes a suddenly dark and more interesting turn in Chapter 7, making most of chapters 2-6 feel like a lot of fluff. It’s still not Shakespear but I do feel the pacing for both gameplay and story would have felt a lot better if Chapter 7’s events and relative difficulty were moved about 10-20 hours earlier into the story. The actual ending, if you do not get the true ending is a bit grim and sudden. If you value the story, do try to get the true ending–more on that later.
Dialog comes through a variant of Compile Heart’s ubiquitous Visual Novel style system that allows skipping, stopping, auto-playing or manually advancing dialog, and even a backlog where you can re-play audio clips from past lines that goes back a fair ways (but not nearly as much as the backlog in Dangan Ronpa). The VN system is something I really wish all text-heavy games adopted. You can skip every single cutscene in two button presses each, go back and read what you missed, it’s so great for any playstyle.
The english voice acting is serviceable, though it has a problem common to many Idea Factory International releases–it’s only partially dubbed. The idol songs are left in Japanese (which is probably for the best) but more annoyingly many story scenes are left unvoiced, especially towards the end of the game (if you switch to Japanese these scenes are still voiced). I really hope this trend stops from IFI, and I’ll be pretty disappointed if Neptunia Victory 2 isn’t fully voiced, being from their biggest series.
Since I’m sure this will be a point of contention, there’s some mild to moderate fanservice here and there in the story–usually just a fairly tame CG image here and there (the “worst” is a character in her underwear performing an extremely non-sexual act). It’s tamer than most Neptunia games even and I really don’t think it’s a reason to avoid the game. Costume Break is probably the most egregious thing, but if you maintain your costumes it shouldn’t happen too often.
So, the game has sidequests, very much like in Neptunia. Now in Neptunia, there’s like 5 or less “Chapter Quests” which can only be played in one chapter, usually with minor reward. In *ω*, every sidequest is effectively a “Chapter Quest” and will instantly and permanently fail if you progress too far in the story. They have times listed as “short”, “medium”, “long” but basically once you get a sidequest you need to immediately stop doing story missions and complete all sidequests.
It’s really not a huge deal once you get the hang of it–your basic flow is story event happens, take story missions, do NOT turn in story missions, get and complete all side quests, then turn in story missions. The game does a poor job of straight up telling you you how important side quests are, but if you play in this general flow you should be fine.
Side quests have fairly valuable rewards, especially the “use skill” ones, which often upgrade your field exploration abilities, which allow you to find more items on maps and generally enjoy the game more. Many sidequests also unlock further sidequests, and there’s no way to know your reward until you complete the sidequest which is an annoyance.
Another missable aspect is a result of the (mostly pointless) Affection system. Affection increases when viewing little Affection Events in the office from time to time and this gets you most of the way to the true ending, but not quite enough. For the rest you have to have Takt used Paired Defense for the girls to raise their affection level. This is really grinding and ridiculous frankly. Without a Lily Rank Boost disk like Neptunia it’s a major chore too.
The biggest missable is the True Ending, and as mentioned the normal ending is quite the downer. All in all since most missable quests are in the last chapter so affection is the biggest problem, but missables as a Thing are still highly frustrating and I really don’t see why they were included here. The game is really much too long (50+ hours) to pull the “play through again for branching story paths” excuse, and it’s really only a pass/fail situation so a replay is 95% the same.
GameFAQs has some info on how to ensure you get the best ending if you’re curious. Note there’s also a New Game + if you want to run through again for missables. New Game + also has a somewhat limited Tales Of style unlock system to let you keep certain progression (mic proficiency, items, bonus skill points) that can make a second playthrough a lot more open from the start, a good way to start Hard Mode.
Crafting is one of a few areas where this game almost entirely improved on Neptunia’s formula then included one baffling change that really drags it down.
For crafting, there are elemental Arcana which serve as generic resources to make items, and you earn Arcana by deconstructing dropped items–a ton of items have no use except to be broken into this crafting resource. Many items are made using only Arcana and money. Sounds great!
Unfortunately, there are also items that require specific drops. Two factors make this a huge pain–you have to disassemble the item before it can be crafted, which is a non-reversible decision. Crafting doesn’t tell you if you have enough of an item in stock unless you already disassembled them either. The disassembling step feels really unnecessary and complicates the process. It also ruins another nice feature–you can break down high grade materials into lower grade ones, but not if you already disassembled them.
Everything would work a lot better if disassembling was only used to gather Arcana. Arcana is a fun way to craft but due to all the specific item requirements you’re never just grinding for Arcana (I usually had plenty anyway), you’re grinding for specific items like every other tedious game with crafting.
The second problem is that unlike Neptunia, you have to use these items up each time you want to make an object. I loved Neptunia’s plan system as you basically gathered the materials for crafting once, then you could just buy the item using only money, making it more of an unlock system. By turning it back into a crafting system it’s become fairly tedious.
Fortunately the stealing skills, training center and Overkill item drop bonus make grinding kind of fun, but finding which enemy drops which item in the enemy encyclopedia is a bit of a chore and especially for consumable items the “consume items each time you craft” thing is a real pain. I made basically no consumable items due to this system, whereas in Neptunia I gleefully unlocked better consumable items all the time.
Keep Arcana, drop “disassembling” anything but the Arcana-spawning materials, make crafting an unlock system instead of an alchemy system and you would have gotten a pretty solid system here.
Unlike the Neptunia games, *ω* Quintet has much larger, more complex maps that are mostly unique (though they almost all share a “destroyed city” theme that can get a bit old). Visually the levels aren’t super impressive, the ideas are alright, but graphically underwhelming. Lots of texture tiling is apparent, nothing is really that striking. A stylized look could have really helped here, like the “digital” looking areas of many Neptunia dungeons.
But what really matters is the size and exploration–map size varies, but there are a few large maps where you can explore more and more as you unlock certain abilities via side-quests. This exploration is all optional but leads to many goodies, new enemies, new areas, and I found it quite refreshing to run around and open up some new areas every chapter or so. You will find yourself returning to the same several maps, but with the ability to explore more each time and enemies that change as you progress in the story.
Enemies appear on map instead of random encounters, and if you’re paying attention you can pretty easily avoid or get First Attacks in on enemies with a map attack. Both avoiding and map attacking enemies is a fair bit easier than in Neptunia where the first attack range is very low and enemy speed is very fast. As a nice touch, the player character calls out when they see new enemies so you can fight them to fill up your monster encyclopedia (more annoyingly they call out many less interesting things on the map as well). A Camo Blur item lets you run past enemies undetected to assist in traversal, though annoyingly you still collide with enemies. Occasionally monsters still block your path and need to actually be fought or fled from.
A nicity is that certain save points on the map act as fast travel points, so from the world map or any save point on the map you can teleport right to those points, cutting on travel time. You can also exit the map from any save point, again saving you time. An annoyance is that save points don’t restore health, nor does exiting the map–you must explicitly enter the Office map for a free heal. It’s not difficult to do, but it also adds nothing to the game and on a few occasions I forgot to heal before exploring a second map. Considering the other quality of life features, returning to the office to heal feels a bit forced.
*ω* Quintet uses a variant of the FFX sphere grid, one that forgoes a lot of annoyances inherent to FFX actually–there is no cost for traversal, linearity is greatly reduced, and sphere points come in big batches instead of forcing you to constantly tweak it. Each character has their own grid, but all characters learn all skills and all upgrades, other than character-specific super skills and passive skills.
The sphere grid is mostly straightforward, though it’s layout is a bit confusing since there’s so many nodes. Cyan nodes are skills, Yellow are upgrades to skills, Blue are added Set Skill slots, Green are stat buffs. There are also passive skills (extremely important nodes!) that confusingly have Cyan nodes and are thus very hard to find. The locked spheres are also very dark so it can be hard to tell what any of them are. The UI would have really benefitted from icons to help show what kind of skill each skill/upgrade node is upgrading.
Each Weapon Proficiency up grants you a batch of sphere points. Weapon Proficiency is earned via XP, applied to whatever weapon you currently have. Leveling this also improves your actions per turn when using that weapon, and it’s in your best interest to level up everyone’s proficiency with all weapons for the extra skill points, though they are usually most effective with the weapon type they start off with.
Leveling is pretty simple and almost entirely separate from the sphere grid. Stats are earned at level up instead of by filling in the grid, though some sphere grid points will boost your stats earned each time you level up, and Takt also has a couple skills to help buff the stats of the girl he’s paired to. These buffs mean there is the potential for “perfect” stats, which is made less frustrating by the New Game + feature, which does not carry over level. Leave your perfectionism for a second (or third) playthrough.
There are several ways to increase experience earned in combat, some of which are very fun. You get more experience for higher combos, for simultaneously defeating enemies, for overkills, for defeating enemies with skills, and also for completing on-the-fly Requests in Live Concert Mode. When in Live Concert Mode, a random request out of a dozen or two will pop up asking you to perform some specific task on your current turn–use an item, get 100 hits, defend and so on. Each of these you complete gives bonus experience. I regularly got between 100 and 200% bonus experience by Overkilling normal enemies in flashy ways. It’s fun how the game rewards you with experience and items for a more flashy, thought out kill.
So the game is occasionally listed as a “JRPG and idol sim hybrid” and that’s kind of stretching it–the game is a straight up JRPG that happens to have a theme, characters and minor gameplay mechanics inspired by idol stuff. It has a “make your own idol show” mini game that is entirely optional (except a couple of simple sidequests), but if you aren’t interested in that stuff it doesn’t get too much in the way. You can even turn off the background music in live concert mode if you don’t care to hear the singing. There’s no rhythm games, there’s no life sim mode where you manage your singing stats, the idol stuff is all for flavor only.
The concert mode is something I didn’t use much, but it seems moderately robust. There are only 5 songs to play, but you can change many things like camera, character positions, a wide selection of dance moves, who is singing. Each of these can be changed for each…unit of…music…sing. I don’t music. But it seems like it would be fun if you enjoy that sort of thing. Personally I’m just glad it’s optional, but the songs themselves are alright.
The costumes are a less-ignorable part of the idol theme, and I must say I’m a bit disappointed in the outfits. There are only a few costumes, and most of the outfits, underwear and shoes are explicitly designed as a set and do not look right when you “mix and match”. Aria’s non-idol outfit is also 1000x better than her idol outfit and I am not happy it is not playable.
Individual costumes are not extremely well designed or interesting, so I found myself mostly ignoring the dress-up component–though I did find some cool shades I immediately gave everyone for the rest of the game.
Omega Quintet is a JRPG with a solid battle system and satisfying exploration, and will readily scratch a JRPG itch. It’s story and graphics are unlikely to draw many in, but aside from the missables the game is quite enjoyable gameplay-wise and is a decent start to JRPGs on the PS4. While I doubt it will ever be a franchise as popular as Hyperdimension Neptunia due to it’s duller characters and uninteresting world, it’s Final Fantasy X inspired battle system is great and I would love to see it expanded upon in a sequel with more polish.
As a side note, the Limited Edition for this game was pretty decent especially for it’s price, including an art book, OST CD, autograph book (?!) and some pins. Most importantly, it included a proper telescoping box that stayed in shape, unlike my Hyperdevotion Noire box which puffed out a bit and is no longer flat.