Steam Community :: OMORI

Posted: June 5

I’ll start off by talking about the gameplay. I’m not exactly a big fan of RPGs, and to be honest with my bias, it’s usually because I’m not the best at them and/or it requires too much brainpower for me to think about what my next strategy is going to be. With that being said, I’ve immensely enjoyed this game from start to finish, and there are so, so many things I’d love to talk about, mainly going into the story-rich details of this somber yet bittersweet experience.

So, about the gameplay. It’s your standard RPG turn-based fighting style with a very unique mechanic, and that involves this buff/nerf system for your characters. Your characters can become angry, happy, or sad, with each emotion having its perks and cons. For example, if your character is angry, they can dish out more damage but they become much more vulnerable to attacks. Also, certain emotions have an advantage over others.

This kind of mechanic is something I’ve never seen before, in terms of its artistic style, and it becomes very obvious as it relates story-wise as to why this is in place. Otherwise, you kill enemies and you level up just as you would in any other RPGs. You can collect items, acquire new skills as you level up, equip different types of weapons and items (called charms) that can boost or lower certain stats for your characters. It’s your bread and butter gameplay from most RPGs that, if you’re familiar with, you’ll be able to immediately pick up on it without any issues.

That’s a majority of the game in a nutshell. However, it’s not necessarily the gameplay that makes OMORI so special. The storytelling, characters, artistic, hand drawn environments, and the general themes and emotions that you’ll go through as you venture on this remarkable indie RPG is what drew me in immediately. And, of course, it was recommended by one of my friends!

I’ve enjoyed every second of this experience, which is where I want to bring up the mature content description/warning from the developers. The game heavily deals with themes and depictions of clinical depression and anxiety, and suicide. It’s something that the game deals with, I believe, very carefully and yet keeps the poignant theme of it well-balanced enough for the player to enjoy. At least, it did for me.

As I’m sure you can already tell from the game’s Steam page and from what I’ve written so far, this is not just a happy, colorful game with everything about rainbows, sunshine and butterflies. It not only deals with themes of revolving around mental illness, but of also feelings of loneliness, abandonment, hopelessness, and a general loss of energy and interest in activities that were once found enjoyable. All of these are very real depictions of clinical depression and its symptomatology, including anxiety and suicide or thoughts of suicide. Indeed, the tag of “psychological horror” should be taken quite literally when talking about OMORI.

The characters are absolutely adorable, and I’ve grown severely attached to all of them. What makes them so charming is the fact that their emotions, the things that they say, especially in regards to the mental illness elements of this game, is real. In fact, you may already know these characters in your own life. That’s because the events that these video game characters have gone through, someone that you may know and love and care for have gone through the very same thing, though I’m sure not exactly the same (I should hope so!).

What pierced my heart the most about this game is that I’ve been through many things similar that are shown in OMORI. It struck a personal nerve with me, though in a bittersweet way. The developers did a fantastic job in leaving an impact on the player. Even if you’ve never had mental illness or have faced it from a friend or loved one in any shape or form, you feel empathy in trying to comfort these characters. And, again, I do believe it was carefully done to place this throughout the game.

In terms of any negatives I have to give about this game, it just comes down to my bias for RPGs. There is eventually a point in the game, at least later on, where it becomes very “grindy”, and instead of trying to fight off the enemies you’ll run into, you’ll end up running away from their encounter in an attempt to just progress the story already. But, honestly, that comes from my personal behavior on these types of games. Eventually, I got burnt out towards the end and just wanted to see the conclusion.

In terms of the horror elements of the game, as I said before, they mainly revolve around very real depictions and clinical and social impact of mental illness and its effects on one’s quality of life. Granted, there are a few spooky moments in the game, but other than that, it’s nothing really heavy to the point where you’ll be jumping out of your seat.

The music was awesome to listen to, though that’s highly dependent on where you are in the game. If you are in HEADSPACE as OMORI, a majority of the music, especially when fighting bosses, is upbeat and gets your blood pumping. When you play as SUNNY in the real world, it can sometimes become more melancholy and haunting, though that’s dependent on what you’re doing in the game.

If you’ve made it this far in reading my wall of text, congratulations! I could continue prattling on and on about the characters and more and more about other features and elements of the game, including wrapping more spoiler tags here and there, but I do want to wrap it up here and talk a little more on the take-home message that this game sends.

OMORI involves those heavy depictions of mental illness and its impact on one’s life, yes, but it also is about how it affects your community, and more especially, your friends and family. There were many times in this game where I cried because of how much they reminded me about how I had great times with my friends when I was a child, and then the pains and angst of growing up from teenage years to now as an adult. There many moments in my life where I had experienced traumatic events that tore friendships asunder, only for them to come back again. And, unfortunately, there have been moments where I’ve lost those that I once called friends, either by my decision in separating myself from them for personal reasons, or by their own hands.

This game, as bittersweet as it was in its message, made me appreciate all the friends and people I’ve had in my life along the way. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been loved by my friends and family, and I hope, if anyone is reading this, you’ll have that same fortune, and if not now, maybe one day.

I strongly, strongly recommend playing this game yourself. And I want to mention something else. If you know someone in your life that you care for–a friend, family member, or whomever–is struggling with horrible thoughts and feelings, please reach out to them as soon as you can. And if you yourself are in a bind as well, I want to you know that there is absolutely no shame in seeking professional help. In my short existence in life so far, I’ve learned that it’s better to have friends and family that love you in tackling these issues than to go at it alone.

The game does feature multiple endings, though I did get what is considered the best ending. I may do another playthrough on the other runs, but after what I’ve read about them, I don’t think I have the heart to do so. Even though they are fictional characters, I enjoy stories with the happiest outcomes as possible.

Now, to finally end it on this note from a melody that was sung to me as a child: “Make new friends but keep the old: one is silver and the other gold.”

Take care of yourselves and keep your friends and family close to you, because in the end, that’s all we have.

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