By Jade Entien
Talk about mental health is necessary. But sometimes it’s a troubling discussion, either because some people are currently trying to get through their pandemic issues and don’t have time to listen, or people feel uncomfortable talking about it. It’s sad that many people worldwide struggle with their mental health and can’t discuss these problems with those they depend on. Sometimes, games can help. From just hours of gaming, I could see that Omori portrays mental health and potential solutions positively and provides a creative approach to handling them.
Omori, an RPGmaker game, is developed by Omocat that follows a young boy named Omori and his friends. (It’s all based on the game maker’s webcomic and clothing line.) You occasionally switch over to another character named Sunny (you’re also allowed to rename them), who also seemingly struggles with their mental health. Players follow these two characters as they make their way through their worlds, fighting various creatures with a game mechanic featuring the power of emotions. Omori is genuinely a fantastic but emotional game that shows the impact friendship has on mental health.
I first started to play Omori during one of my mental health awareness Twitch streams. In comparison to other RPG horror games I’ve played, the psychological horror aspect of Omori brought out the story. There are many anxiety-inducing moments (like Mari, unny’solder sister, at the door scene.)
Within the first few minutes, I could tell a lot of work went into designing. It was an overall aesthetically pleasing game; the backgrounds, soundtrack, and game mechanics all looked incredible and differentiated Omori and Sunny’s worlds. Soon after leaving the White Space, a small white area with a little to interact with, we are introduced to Omori’s friends Hero, Aubrey, and Kel (later on, we meet Mari and Basil), each with unique personalities. Aubrey is the smallest and sweetest with a strong heart, Kel serves as the funny friend with a small rivalry with Aubrey, Hero’s the peacemaker, settling conflicts between Aubrey and Kel, Mari is the big sister of the group providing the team with picnics, and Basil takes photos of the group with his camera, documenting all their moments. These friends support each other and have picnics in the park along with the other residents in their world. Thanks to the encouragement of his friends, Omori can overcome multiple fears in the Dream World, a colorful place of enemies – but also friends.
The fighting mechanics in the game felt different from other RPG mechanics. Omori’s gameplay requires the player to change a character’s emotion to increase the damage done, decrease damage taken, or increase a character’s speed. It provided an unusual challenge and I constantly tried to fill the buddy meter to do more damage. Tagging other characters was also a feature I enjoyed since you could swap between Omori and his friends to use their skills, like Hero’s ability to receive gifts from characters! Plus, the animated scenes and photos as characters interacted were adorable.
As I was playing, I found myself relating a bit to Omori since my friends helped me get through the times I felt so insignificant while dealing with my depression. I’m grateful for their support. But colorful aesthetics aside, Omori felt like a sad wake-up call. Though Omori truly captures childlike emotions, fears, and values of friendship throughout the game, there was guilt, nightmares, monsters, and the Black Space, multiple doors filled with frightening areas and denizens. Playing through the game and being faced with these things made me anxious since Omori is approximately 12 years old, so young. It reminded me that mental illness doesn’t care what age you are, and no one should feel alone. Whenever Omori’s friends showed up on the screen, I lit up. It felt like liberation. They were together, and they could help each other.
I honestly recommend this game to people who are interested in challenges and people interested in multiple endings based on choices. Omori is a bit lengthy, around 24 hours, but be patient! The story is worth it all, especially with the varied fighting styles. Although Omori may not be a mental health textbook, it provided an engaging, artistic look into a mind riddled with guilty and dark feelings. I don’t think people should compare Omori to any other RPG game. It features a wonderfully created atmosphere, characters with strong emotions, a well-written story. The final product is so impressive. It helped me (and will help others) to remember they’re not alone. No one has to be alone. When it comes to deteriorating mental health, it’s a good idea to check up on those you believe may need help, especially if you haven’t heard from them for a while. Some people may just need a friend – or friendly words.
Jade is a non-binary high-schooler from the Bronx and one of our newest New York Videogame Critics Circle contributors.