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Omikron: The Nomad Soul

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Nomad Soul is also the title of an album by Sengalese singer Baaba Maal

Omikron: The Nomad Soul (Simply The Nomad Soul in Europe) is a Windows 9x and Dreamcast 3D adventure game developed by Quantic Dream and published in 1999 by Eidos Interactive. It was released on November 1, 1999 for PC and on June 22, 2000 for Dreamcast. A PlayStation and PlayStation 2 version was planned but was cancelled.[1][2]

Synopsis

The Nomad Soul is set in a futuristic city known as Omikron, which is a densely populated metropolis on the world of Phaenon, the second planet of the star Rad'an. At the start of the game, players are asked by an Omikronian police officer named Kay'l 669 to leave their dimension and enter Omikron within his body (therefore breaking the fourth wall). After doing so, players continue with the investigation of serial killings that Kay'l and his partner Den were originally working on, attempting to pick up where Kay'l was apparently stopped from investigating. The city of Omikron exists beneath an enormous crystal dome, which was constructed to protect against the ice age that Phaenon entered into after its sun's extinction. The city is split into different sectors: Anekbah, Qualisar, Jaunpur, Jahangir and Lahoreh. Because it is forbidden for the inhabitants to leave their respective sectors, each area has developed uniquely, which is reflected by the diverging lifestyles and architecture. Common to all Omikronians, however, is the heavily oppressive and controlling government, which is run by a supercomputer called Ix.

Story

Soon after the beginning of the game's introduction, the player begins the investigation in the Anekbah sector. He uncovers information that suggests the serial killer he is looking for is in fact not human but actually a demon. When members of an apparent underground, anti-government movement contact the player and confirm his suspicions, the investigation deepens and uncovers information; one of Omikron's chief police commanders, Commandant Gandhar, is a demon pretending to be human and lures human souls into Omikron from other dimensions by way of the Omikron video game. Kay'l 669 asking the player to help him was a trap: supposedly, if the in-game character dies, the real human playing the video game will lose their soul forever. Despite many assassination attempts on the protagonist's life by other demons working behind the scenes, the player destroys Gandhar with supernatural weaponry.

After this brief victory, the player is invited to join the mysterious anti-government movement named "The Awakened" (referring to the fact the characters have "awakened" from the lies and drugs of the government). The Awakened work in tandem with an ancient religious order who are led by Boz, a mystical being that exists in purely electronic form on the computer networks of Omikron. The Awakened refer to the protagonist as the "Nomad Soul" since he has the ability to change bodies at will. The Nomad Soul learns afterwards that what is going on in Omikron is merely an extension of a thousands-of-years-old battle between mankind and demons led by the powerful Astaroth. Astaroth, who was banished to the depths of Omikron long ago, is slowly regenerating power while using demons to both collect souls and impersonate high members of the government; he believes he can eventually take complete control and move across Phaenon and the Universe beyond. Only by harnessing ancient, magical technology and by re-discovering several hidden tombs underneath Omikron's surface, can the Nomad Soul hope to discover how to destroy Astaroth, return to his own dimension, and prevent his soul from being captured by demons.

Gameplay

The game combines the mechanics of distinct game genres such as adventure games, first person shooters, fighting games, and even elements of a puzzle game. Its primary genre is adventure, with the other elements only played out during key moments as the story progresses.

One of the main features in this game is the possibility to reincarnate in a different world character upon the death of the one you "incarnated" in. However, doing so results in all character stats resetting prompting the gamer to fight in tournaments or buy more potions to jot stats back up.

Soundtrack

David Bowie, who had some input on the storyline and game's design, makes two cameo appearances within the game, although not as himself; first as Boz, a game character who's a revolutionary wanted by authorities, and secondly as the nameless lead-singer of the fictional musical group, "The Dreamers", who perform illegal concerts in Omikron. In addition, select tracks from his (then) upcoming 'hours...' album were written specifically for the game then rewritten for the actual album release. For instance, the intro song New Angels of Promise changed the chorus lyric Omikron to Suspicious Minds.

The game's soundtrack is a main feature as well, featuring songs by Bowie and Reeves Gabrels (most of which appeared on 'hours...' or as B-sides on the associated single for the song "Thursday's Child") in addition to the primary composition work by Xavier Despas. Most of Bowie's songs are then available (in-game only) for later listening either if the player opts to "buy" the recordings or simply walk into an apartment that already has some of the music laid out in plain view or in hidden compartments. Bowie's wife Iman Abdulmajid also makes a cameo as one of the numerous Omikronian citizens the player can "reincarnate" into.[3]

Reception

 Reception
Review scores
Publication Score
GamePro PC Star fullStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [4]

DC Star fullStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svg [5]

IGN PC 8.5 / 10[6]

DC 6.7/10[5]

Omikron received mixed reviews upon release. [4][5] GamePro compared the landscapes to Blade Runner and said they were also reminiscent of Tim Burton while complaining the character models themselves were "murky and/or blurry".[7] Both IGN and Gamepro agreed that the adventure aspects made the game worth playing and the fighting mechanics and FPS controls (for the time) weren't bad either. IGN added "[they] both become more entertaining and elaborate as the game progresses".

The futuristic electronic ambient score and rock soundtrack helmed by David Bowie, Reeves Gabrels, and Xavier Despas, was met with near-universal acclaim. Reviews among both critics and consumers hail the PC version superior to the DC version, as evidenced by comparing IGN's PC grade of 8.5 to the DC grade of 6.7 [6][8] and consumer scores on Gamestats, which rates the PC version overwhelmingly more positive in comparison.[4][5]

PC Gameworld reviewer John Misak gave the game a score of 92%, stating "Omikron,[9] works in a living, breathing world. Everything you do has repercussions, especially how you speak to the other characters in the game."

The DC port's inferiority was cited to have been plagued with bugs, have extended loading times and hiccups, shoddy voice and effects quality, an awkward control scheme, and instances of lazy porting (IGN stated that in the intro, Kay'l "is contacting you through your computer, while the sub-titled text reads ′Dreamcast.′").[8]

Sequel plans

While the game received mixed critical reaction, it achieved enough commercial success (and a huge cult following) to convince Quantic Dream to start production on a sequel. Series creator David Cage claimed to receive dozens of emails a week for the past three years from fans worldwide asking for a sequel.[10] Titled Nomad Soul: Exodus, it was to take place hundreds of years after the events in the first game. Tensions between Eidos Interactive and Quantic Dream led to the game winding up in development hell. Eventually ties were severed with Eidos, leaving Quantic Dream to move to Vivendi Universal, and then Atari, to pursue their next big project Fahrenheit (known as Indigo Prophecy in the US).

On April 6 2005, Omikron 2 and a new franchise, Infraworld, were announced to be in development. David Cage confirmed at the time that they dropped the surname Exodus in favor of Karma. Infraworld was canned only a few months later as "the concept did not appeal to its publishers".[11] Because of Fahrenheit's surprise critical and commercial success, Karma was temporarily put on hiatus to focus production on Heavy Rain (an extension of the Fahrenheit formula).

References in Fahrenheit

Omikron makes a cameo appearance in Fahrenheit in the form of a news story, which can be read by Tyler Miles when he logs onto the internet from his work terminal. Another reference to the game in Fahrenheit can be seen where the character Tyler has a small figure of the robot Soks and refers to him as "his favourite character from his favourite video game."

References

  1. IGN PSX Page, IGN
  2. IGN PS2 Page, IGN
  3. Omikron: The Nomad Soul - Allgame
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Gamestats PC, Gamestats, November 5, 1999.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Gamestats DC, Gamestats, November 5, 1999.
  6. 6.0 6.1 IGN PC Review, IGN, November 5, 1999.
  7. Gamepro Omikron Review, Gamepro, November 24, 2000.
  8. 8.0 8.1 IGN DC Review, IGN, June 22, 2000.
  9. http://pcgames.gwn.com/reviews/gamereview.php/id/190/p/0/title/Omikron_The_Nomad_Soul.html
  10. Exodus - Myth or Reality?, Omikron Blogspot, November 24, 2003.
  11. Walden, Fabian (2006-02-09). "Infraworld Cancellation Announcement". http://omikrongame.blogspot.com/2006/02/wt-interview-quantic-dream-qa.html. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 

External links

Template:Quantic Dreamca:The Nomad Soulfr:The Nomad Soul pt:Omikron:The Nomad Soul

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