• OMORI is equal parts Final Fantasy and Eraserhead
04.23.14

OMORI is equal parts Final Fantasy and Eraserhead

You'd be forgiven for thinking horror games have lost their edge lately. The current torchbearer is Amnesia: start with a weird fiction pedigree, keep the player on her toes with careful formal elements, and pop in a horrific slavering hellspawn when all else fails.

Games like Slender and its YouTube-ready ilk have nixed the first two, leaving a spare, often-generic level design that disperses jump scares with unflinching repetition. Lord knows how many Slender-likes populate Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter, but it's a formula that sells.

One thing you cannot accuse the freshly Kickstarted OMORI of is exploiting a formula—unless you somehow count “lysergic surrealist RPG” as a formula, in which case let's make more of those.

The game comes out of a blog run by artist OMOCAT; a blog which follows bona-fide hikikomori Omori (wait a minute...) as he talks to himself and his cat, listens to The Smiths, and occasionally points a knife at the bridge of his nose.

Not your typical protagonist, even for a self-released RPG Maker game, but OMOCAT says she's “always envisioned OMORI as a game,” and it seems to have blossomed into something quite interesting.

The point of reference seems to be Yume Nikki, both for the phantasmagoric day-glo aesthetic and for the willfully obscure narrative, which traps Omori in "white space" like an abstract take on Silent Hill 4. But between the warped battle system – like your usual Active Time Battle, except instead of casting Fira or Dispel, you tell your character to “Calm Down” in the face of what appears to be a hybrid shark-plane – and the promised loads of NPCs, dungeons, and quests, plus the eerily sweet soundtrack, the game has earned enough goodwill to muscle past its $22,000 goal in less than two days.

With 43 left to go, we'll see just what OMOCAT has planned for Omori– hopefully he's not too shy to attend his coming-out party.