Elder Sign: Omens (Video Game)
I had two strikes going against me when I purchased this video game adaptation…one for never having played the board game and two for not being familiar (at all) with any of H.P. Lovecraft’s work. I know, I know…shame on me, I guess. Still, there was a certain charm about the board game, even if a lot of the gameplay mechanics seemed a bit complex. I bought the video game adaptation ($14.99 as of 12/22/13) mainly to see if I should drop twenty-five bucks plus on the board game. Worse case scenario is that if I don’t like it, I’d only be out fifteen bucks…seemed like a reasonable deal. After playing a few games, I’ve discovered that I have a love/hate relationship with “Elder Sign: Omens”. Why? So glad you asked…
As an electronic game, the overall package functions relatively well. The game includes options for screen resolution, full screen, the ability to toggle music/sound, and some other basic gameplay settings. I was very impressed with the in-game help feature, I must admit. There are both videos and text menus to browse through, allowing newcomers to become acclimated to the game as a whole. It doesn’t cover strategies, but it does cover the interface and what each icon/ability/gameplay mechanic is designed to do. You can access help whilst playing via the menu screen, so there’s that too. My sole complaint here was the overuse of flashy screens that popped up as you played, like when it was time for a new investigator to take their turn.
The premise behind the game is a fairly simple one: you control a team of investigators who are trying to stop a monster (also known as “ancient ones”) from being summoned. Your objective will be to gather a certain number of Elder Signs before the monster’s doom track completely fills up. In the board game version, each player assumes the role of one investigator while in this version, you control all four. I suppose if you had a friend or family member sitting next to you, you could engage in multiplayer via pass-and-play. There is no online multiplayer…which is bad news for those of you who love the board game and wanted to play with others around the globe.
The bulk of the game lies in the dice. Each turn, you’ll be in control of an investigator and will choose one of the available adventures on the map. Each adventure requires that certain icons be rolled during the attempt, accompanied by a list of rewards or consequences, depending on the outcome. While there is a lot of luck in the game via the dice rolls, you can limit your reliability on luck somewhat by observing the special abilities of the investigator in question. Each investigator has a special ability and a set of starting items, though they can earn more of the latter by successfully completing adventures. These items will help alter dice rolls and will even go far as to avail you with extra dice to use during the attempt.
I won’t delve too deeply into the rules of the game, but suffice it to say that successfully completing adventures will sometimes reward you with Elder Signs, which is what you’ll need to win the game. Despite the items featured, the game is still heavily reliant on luck. This is the type of game to where the dice can completely screw you over, despite your attempts to play the game as perfectly as possible. The game is also pretty darned challenging…I believe I’ve won about one out of five games on normal difficulty. As such, those who enjoy strategic gameplay with little reliance on luck and those who become easily frustrated should avoid “Elder Sign: Omens” altogether. I personally found the game to be a passable, even enjoyable experience when I wasn’t adding money to the swear jar. It helped to teach me a lot of the aspects of the “Elder Sign” universe in general and even went as far as to urge me to purchase the board game the next time I found it on sale. It won’t win any awards for being unique and breathtaking, but as a video game adaptation, it delivers enough to keep me coming back from time to time.
Final Verdict: 7/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Elder Sign: Omens” by visiting the following websites: