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The Nomad Soul
The Nomad Soul really is an experience like no other. I can almost guarantee that the world which you will roam and the way in which you do so is quite unique, and is a very rewarding experience. To find out why, read on…
‘Quantic Dream’, a new French developer, has created for us, the world of Omikron, a world like no other. You begin the game as yourself. You have switched on your console. However, some funny man jumps out of a portal in your TV screen! He is Kay’l, and he and his world are in need of your help! It seems that demons have begun to emerge in their world, and only you, the games player, can help! So, as soon as you accept this challenge, your soul is transported into the body of the hero, Kay’l! It seems he is a policeman, and he went missing days before you arrive. Now, just because I said policeman, don’t mean that this game is ANYTHING like the rubbish that is Urban Chaos (notice how we didn’t review that game? There’s a reason!). The Nomad Soul is completely different altogether, because you are a part of the world that you have been dragged to. At first, you feel like an outsider, because you are not used to the place you are in. However, as time goes on, you feel as if you are a part of your surroundings. You get to know where the pharmacy is in a certain part of town so you can get your medical supplies. You finally understand how to call a taxi and get to a destination! You figure out what the funny box does in your apartment!
No, I’m not joking around here. You have an apartment! Living room, bedroom, bathroom, bedroom… the whole shebang! In the first part of the game, you even have a wife! She plays quite a large role in the first part of the game… so make sure you treat her good!
I could go on and on
about what there is to do in the world of Omikron. I’ll give you just a
taste though… to whet your appetite. You can go to a bar and sip some
drinks, you can go shopping for many items, you can visit pole-dancing
clubs, you can view a strip tease, you can watch a virtual David Bowie
concert (well, it is David Bowie, but he is called a different name in the
game)… You can do so much that it is unbelievable! And that is only just
scratching the surface of the first section of the game! As you progress
and get to go to new areas of the town, you get to do more and more
Lets next go to storyline. There is actually a very complex storyline that leads you through many areas, many twists and many turns. It is really quite amazing how the story progresses and completely surprises you at different points. To be honest, I cannot give an example without giving away part of the story, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. It isn’t all to do with storyline though. A game cannot just be a story, although a good one is narrative driven. There are many areas in The Nomad Soul that make it a rounded experience. You will probably spend most of your time walking around trying to find something, somewhere or someone to progress the storyline. Now, this part can get tedious after doing it 10-12 times, however, it really doesn’t get that bad. You probably will get sidetracked in a shop or just having a nose around somewhere. However, it can get boring just wondering around…
It is occasionally the case that you will have no clue as to what you should be doing. This really is one of the low points of the game. Because you have no idea what you should be doing at all, you really do get bored. I recommend that you check a guide at points where this happens, as I had to, but don’t use the guide for the whole game, as it would spoil the experience.
The camera is quite good, and suits the style of the game very well. It doesn’t really get frustrating. Controls are frustrating however. At first, they do not feel right, but given time, you will get used to them, like most things in this game!
Also, along with exploration and story, there are two other parts thrown into The Nomad Soul. These are a first-person shooting mode and a ‘Virtua Fighter’ style fighting mode. Now, I must admit, the controls to these modes are rather dodgy and feel… well, unresponsive to say the least. However, they do add an extra dimension of play to the game. Without them, the game wouldn’t be as good as it is… it would be too tedious… repeating the same thing over and over again!
One other thing about gameplay that really does need a mention is the ability to move from body to body! This happens at some points in the game when it is needed, or when you die (however occasionally when you die, you stay dead… you’ll find out why if you play the game!) and you can also choose to inhabit a new body in later stages of the game using magic. There are over 40 different people who you can inhabit, all with their own abilities, backgrounds, and some even have their own apartment! This is a very cool feature, which does make you feel like a ‘Nomad Soul’!
Now, when you look at the graphics of The Nomad Soul, you can tell that it was originally a PC game. I don’t know why, but it gives off a vibe. The architecture and character models in this game are very good. The whole thing is smooth and runs at a good rate, except when you go through a door or into a new section of town when things slow down considerably, or stop for a couple of seconds. This loading is irritating at first, but you become used to it after a while, and it is tolerable. Lip-syncing is done very well in the game, as is character animation. The different sections of town are all populated with their own people and all look completely different in style. There are the dark streets of Ankebah and the bright and ‘spiritual’ area of Junapar. It is all very unique and looks simply amazing. Detail is high, and textures and smooth!
Sound in this game is really a case of hit or miss. For instance, voice acting in this game is very good! Only main characters in the plotline or shopkeepers will speak. Other inhabitants and yourself do not actually speak so you can hear, but when you speak, it is a textual form. The acting is done with real emotion, and when coupled with the great lip-syncing, it is a sight to behold! On the other hand, the street sounds aren’t very good at all! Hover cars and bikes seem to be silent, and there is no real noise in the background except your footsteps and the wind! A bit more sound could have been put in to give the streets a better atmosphere. Music wouldn’t have gone amiss either! However, on the whole, sound isn’t that bad, and contributes to the atmosphere in places.
Lifespan is an issue with many games nowadays. However, The Nomad Soul is one game that will last you a very long time. There is so much to do! However, you may not want to come back again, but this doesn’t matter, as you will still be playing the game for a while after you get it!
"A well designed and made game that needs to be played to be fully appreciated. It is like a second life in an alternate dimension! Second only to Shenmue in the ‘second life’ stakes so far!"
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