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The Nomad Soul

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The Nomad Soul
Omikron (PC).jpg
Omikron (Dreamcast).jpeg
At least Quantic Dream's first game isn't as atrocious as something that's also called Omicron...
Genre(s): Adventure
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows
Dreamcast
Release: Microsoft Windows
EU: October 31, 1999
NA: November 5, 1999

Dreamcast
NA: June 22, 2000
EU: June 23, 2000
Developer(s): Quantic Dream
Publisher(s): Eidos Interactive
Country: France


The Nomad Soul (known as Omikron: The Nomad Soul in North America) is a 1999 adventure game developed by Quantic Dream and published by Eidos Interactive. It was released for Microsoft Windows and Dreamcast.

Bad Qualities

  1. The graphics haven't aged well especially the character models. More specifically, the faces of the NPCs which dip into the uncanny valley since NPCs have a bad habit of resetting to a neutral expression during cutscenes after they've delivered their dialogue, which can lead to bizarre behavior such as Kay'l's girlfriend expressing her worry over not having seen Kay'l in days, only to suddenly switch to a blank, slack-jawed expression when she's done.
  2. The game seems to rip from many types of games like first-person shooting, fighting, puzzles, RPG, and etc. which makes the game seem like it has an identity crisis.
  3. On that note, these gameplay styles don't play the best as the fighting is kind of janky and there isn't a combo list, the first-person shooting is floaty, and the RPG mechanics are underutilized since the only thing that resembles an RPG system is upgrading your fighting.
  4. Permanently missable content: After Kay'l dies, you lose his ability to access most parts of the Security Headquarters. Everything necessary for the main quest is still open, but the optional missions and side content can be lost forever if you don't complete them before his death.
  5. Anti-climatic ending: Background lore in the game would lead one to believe the last leg would be a climactic assault on the Legate's palace, and from there to discover the location of the supercomputer Ix and descend there. Instead, at a point that feels like it should be at most two thirds through the game, you just sort of come across a cave system that leads you to the resting place of an ancient hero where you pick up a mythical sword and then teleport right to Astaroth. The ending cinematic tells you at the same time the resistance assaulted the Legate's palace and Ix, offscreen.
  6. The font that's used in the game is sometimes illegible since some letters don't look like actual letters. The font could be compared to the alien alphabet from Futurama.
  7. While you can control a lot of special people, they don't play much differently. Really, the main difference is who they know.
  8. Some of the examination text is questionable. When examining Kay'l's wife on the bed, the text says "I should lay on the other side like a good boy."
  9. The game can come across as pretentious since it seems very self-indulged in how it's aware that the player is playing a video game.
  10. There are hardly any actual characters since a lot of the ones you get to know get killed off early in the game.
  11. The size of the text is tied to the resolution meaning if you play on the highest resolution the text will be too small to read.
  12. This is one of those games that require you to really pay attention as to what's going on or else you can easily get stuck and not know what you need to do next.
  13. The story gets pretty confusing and sometimes doesn't make sense. (See BQ #16)
  14. At the beginning, Kay'l asks you to take care of his body, but this is ultimately impossible. If you keep him alive all the way through the fight against Chief Gandhar, a random Meca will shoot him dead in a cutscene immediately after.
  15. Plot holes:
    • The game claims that Kay'l died before he asked you to take over his body and that the demons did used his body to lure you out. This doesn't make any sense because that would imply that a demon was controlling his body, but that doesn't make any sense either since a demon shows up that was clearly chasing Kay'l beforehand.
    • If the demons knew of your existence and how to get to you, why didn't they takeover Kay'l's body and take the nomad soul?

Good Qualities

  1. The open world structure of the game is ambitious for its time since you can eat food, buy weapons, read books, listen to music, and there's even a map. This is especially impressive when you realize that this came out before Grand Theft Auto III and the same year as Shenmue.
  2. The graphics and character models look great for their time.
  3. Good voice acting.
  4. Great soundtrack that was composed by Reeves Gabrels and David Bowie.
  5. This game has garnered a reputation of being "so bad, it's good" among most of those who've played it, with the general sentiment being that the game is so swallowed up in its own pretentiousness that it becomes hilarious to watch.
  6. The "nomad soul" can inhabit and control special people which is a really interesting mechanic. In fact, this kind of mechanic wouldn't be used in games until Watch Dogs: Legion.
  7. The concept of figuring out that a cyberpunk city is controlled by demons is interesting just not well executed.
  8. While they don't function the best, the first-person shooting and fighting are still pretty fun.
  9. The world is pretty large as there are four different districts.
    • Anekbah: A district that plagued by frightening and oppressive high-rises of the Security Service that diligently survey the city; enormous windmills turn slowly, generating energy by capturing the currents created from temperature fluctuations. This district takes design cues from the work of Syd Mead (both his vehicles and his buildings are sleek and shiny) who worked on A New Hope, Aliens, Tron, and etc.
    • Qalisar: A self-styled red-light district of Omikron, rising from its lower class murk in an explosion of gaudy lights and questionable morality.
    • Jaunpur: A residential area that houses the "middle-class" in a labyrinth of tiny streets surrounding the Yeshu Temple. Most buildings have no symmetry and they often take on bizarre shapes. The entire zone is built over ancient catacombs, and death, black magic and tenebrous powers are always lying just beneath the surface.
    • Lahoreh: A magical and wondrous location, reserved for the well-heeled "jet-set" of Omikron. Vehicles traverse a shimmering lattice of Venice-like canals and magnificent public buildings pierce the tranquil azure of the sky.

Reception

Aggregate score Score
GameRankings 66%[1] (DC)
75%[2] (PC)
Publication Score
AllGame 3.5/5 stars[3] (DC)
4.5/5 stars[4] (PC)
Eurogamer 7/10[5] (PC)
GameSpot 5.2/10[6] (DC)
6/10[7] (PC)
GamePro 3.5/5 stars[8] (DC)
4/5 stars[9] (PC)
IGN 6.7/10[10] (DC)
8.5/10[11] (PC)
GameRevolution A[12] (PC)
PC Gamer (US) 68%[13] (PC)

Omikron: The Nomad Soul received mixed reviews with critics praising the graphics, voice acting, soundtrack, and story while criticizing the color palette, the controls, the AI, and the switching between different gameplay genres. Jeremy Dunham of IGN wrote that The Nomad Soul was best described as "Messiah and Shenmue's illegitimate child", disregarding the Dreamcast version as an "obviously rushed" port.

The Nomad Soul was nominated as the best personal computer adventure game of 1999 by CNET Gamecenter, The Electric Playground, and GameSpot, losing variously to Gabriel Knight 3, Spy Fox 2, and Outcast. It was also nominated in the "Outstanding Achievement in Character or Story Development" category at the 3rd Annual Interactive Achievement Awards in 2000, losing to Age of Empires II: Age of Kings.

Trivia

  • After the death of David Bowie, the composer of the game, the game was free for a whole week in his honor.
  • A PlayStation port, slated for a May 2000 release, was cancelled, despite being almost complete. A PlayStation 2 version was also scrapped.

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