OMORI

OMORI is a game that’s been long-awaited. Directed by semi-famous internet artist Omocat, the game had a successful Kickstarter way back in 2014. The development had been gripped by problems, one of them being its move to the RPG Maker MV engine when it was still in its infancy. However, despite being viewed as a cryptid for many years, OMORI surprised people with a trailer last year and released on Christmas Day. And I daresay that it’s a game worth the wait… though, there’s an important concern to address.

Before heading on, I want to give a quick shout out to Melon Kid, a member of the Omori team. I actually played a game of theirs, Magical Disaster X, a long time ago from a game jam we both participated in. I was actually stoked to see that they worked on this game and it’s really cool that they went on to work on something like this.

On a far more negative note, I also have to address the elephant in the room: Pedro Silva, better known as Slime Girls. They’re one of the composers for OMORI and a few days before the game released, somebody called them out on past abusive behavior. While they initially denied the accusations, they later acknowledged them to be true. I did not know about this until a few days ago, and as much as I enjoyed OMORI, it casts a shadow and it’s a shadow that deserves to be acknowledged.

I don’t think it completely tars the game’s image for me. As far as I know, the rest of the development team seemed to be unaware of their past behavior (like, Melon Kid only learned about it recently through secondhand information). Silva’s also attempting to own up to their behavior, though I shouldn’t be the judge of whether or not it works or if it redeems their involvement with the game since I’m not a victim. While I support the game, I will not support the soundtrack like I once thought of doing, even though Silva claims that they’ll donate excess proceeds to charity.

That is one warning I have for the game. If you feel that Silva’s involvement is a dealbreaker and feel that they’re too entwined with the game, this won’t be for you.

And the second warning I have is that OMORI is serious about its trigger warnings for suicide and depression. I’ll mostly be getting into that in the major spoilers section, but just letting you know.

Omori is a lonely quiet boy, living in a nearly empty void called White Space. But everything is okay. While he spends a lot of time in White Space, he can step out the door to hang out with his friends in Headspace.

In sheer contrast to White Space, Headspace is a colorful and vibrant world of pastels filled with lively people. We’re introduced to Omori’s good friends Kel, Hero and Aubrey, who are so happy to see him. Together, they head out to the playground to hang out with their other friend, Basil, and Omori’s sister, Mari. They all have a grand old time playing around, and sure, Basil’s briefly kidnapped by some playground bully, but everything gets resolved, so everything’s okay.

But then, everything is not okay. The game takes a sudden turn for horror when Basil is suddenly spirited away by Something after he finds a photo he took depicting something that shouldn’t have seen. But not to worry! Omori and his friends are on the look out for him! Everything is going to be okay…

You spend the game traveling the strange world of Headspace, meeting eccentric NPCs and fighting weird enemies like any surreal RPG. And there is a lot to explore in Headspace, because there’s a surprising amount of sidequests and optional content to engage with; like in my own Youtube playthrough, I pretty much skip over one whole big optional area. This is a game that does its damndest to be a fully-fledged RPG and it’s pretty successful at that.

The game feels nostalgic, in a way, though not in the way games usually are. Instead of evoking past game ideas, it feels evocative of a time when you were young and had the time to play with your good friends. Omori’s friend group is an endearing bunch that at times may fight and squabble, but will always have each other’s backs. There are points where you can engage in a side activity that doesn’t do anything practical for you, the player, but it’s nice to see these characters hang out like making sandcastles. It’s sentimental in a rather mundane way.

But there’s a creeping horror underneath the wholesome good times. A strange one-eyed being called Something can frequently be spotted throughout the game, along with a shadowy apparition of Basil. In the search for Basil, you find computer keys that spell out words on a hangman puzzle, and as you gather keys, you start getting subjected to events that show that there’s Something wrong going on in the background.

Throughout the game, the gang runs into a whole lot of weird enemies in a surprisingly specialized battle system. Unlike the standard RPG Maker UI, the characters have their portraits positioned in the corners of the screen, making attacks inward. Besides the presentation, OMORI also differentiates itself with the emotion system, which is a take on an RPG elemental system. Happy beats angry, angry beats sad, sad beats happy. Each state also has an innate pro and con, such as being sad raising your defenses but lowering your attack and causing you to lose juice (aka MP) alongside health when attacked.

However, most enemies don’t have an innate emotion status and neither does your characters without an equip. Besides fighting, the tides of battle can change with the enemy team and yours changing emotions. Have Kel annoy an enemy to make them angry then have Aubrey make herself and an ally happy to gain an easy advantage. Some moves also work better when a character is already inflicted with a certain emotion, so you’re incentivized to engage with it if you want to get through battles quicker.

I will say though, it’s very easy to fall into a really basic strategy: have Kel annoy Aubrey to make her angry, have Omori read a sad poem or share a painful truth to an enemy, then headbutt with Aubrey repeatedly; if you used painful truth, you can also get Omori in with some stabbing action. There aren’t a lot of counters to this strategy besides enemies changing your emotions. That said, there are several bosses that refuse to change their own self-inflicted emotions or frequently change yours (congratulations to the bastard Sweetheart, who is Both), making for good challenges that force you to diversify your strategy.

As you take hits, you build up energy that allows you to make follow-up attacks after a character does a normal attack. And it’s here that I’ll talk more about the characters, because the game’s battle system actually channels the characters’ personalities and dynamics pretty well.

Kel is like an annoying yet endearing younger sibling that approaches everything with a positive, can-do attitude. He can live up to the annoying part by annoying his friends or enemies to make them angry, while having skills that make him happy to express his demeanor. He is the athletic one of the bunch, attacking things with a ball and having the fastest speed, which makes him reliable for using items.

His follow-ups has him tossing the ball to others for an additional attack. Being brothers, Hero has the best response to it in that they dunk on all the enemies together. Aubrey, despite her frequent fights with Kel, is still pretty receptive to him and knocks his ball out of the park for a strong attack. As for Omori, well, Omori will try his best; initially, his lack of athleticism bites him in that he’ll just take damage and become sad, but when used later on, Omori can successfully catch and redirect Kel’s throw, making him happy instead.

Aubrey is a rather emotional character, with a generally joyful demeanor but is quick to anger. This side of her is expressed by the fact her skillset is a mix of strong offensive skills and happy causing skills, while her reactive nature is mirrored by her counter skill. Her emotion character portraits are also very expressive, with the only one with a stronger showing being Omori on account of the fact that he has three emotion stages.

Her follow-up skills involve her reacting to the others and reflects how she feels about them. Looking at the trustworthy Hero leads to him lending her encouragement, making her happy. Looking at Kel just leads to him bugging her, making her angry. As for Omori, she has a thinly veiled crush on him and tries to impress him by doing a strong extra attack.

Hero is the older brother character that everyone looks up to and respects. Reflecting how he defuses the fights between Aubrey and Kel, he can erase most characters’ current emotional states. With dreams of being a chef, he acts as the healer of the game in that he cooks up food to heal everyone up. Alternatively, as the protective older brother, he could also act as a tank if you choose to do so.

His follow-ups showcase everyone’s dependence on him in that he’ll give his friends encouraging looks to heal their health and juice and encourage them to take another free attack. Meanwhile, he tries to put on a brave face for everyone, as demonstrated by his emotion character portraits being more composed compared to the others.

…And then there’s Omori. Omori is the silent protagonist with a mute demeanor and appearance. Something’s immediately off with him, considering that he attacks things with an Actual Knife as opposed to everyone’s more fantastical offerings. Unlike the other characters, he can experience three stages of emotion that demonstrate his feelings – and it’s that him feeling happy looks incredibly forced while his angry and sad looks are extremely sincere. In fact, his skillset revolves around violently stabbing enemies, insulting enemies or making people sad.

His follow-up skills are entirely unique in that two are entirely selfish moves that allow him to hit enemies again. However, his third one is a big attack that can only be used at max energy, where he leads his friends to do a big all-out attack – which also may be the only time he flashes a sincere smile. To me, it reads to me as somebody that really needs to build up the energy to be willing to be with friends. In general, Omori’s whole battle function reflects a rather bleak outlook… but for what purpose?

OMORI has a very strong aesthetic, which is thankfully not “Touhou but fucked up,” like how people generalize Omocat’s art to be, as it leans toward a more cutesy look while the darker stuff tends to be separate. The world is constructed with colorful pixel art that contrasts with the simple monochrome look of Omori and his home. Cutscene art and battles are more elaborate drawings and animations, with cute battle sprites that have this crayon-y texture that gives a playful vibe to fights. The occasional segments where you put together photos in Basil’s photo album are strong showings because the art used for the photos does a good job at painting the picture of life moments that are worth capturing.

And I hate to hand it to them, but the soundtrack by Slime Girls and co-composer Clover & Sealife is pretty strong. There’s a wide range of songs to enjoy, like the warm and friendly vibes presented in “By Your Side” that acts as Mari’s de facto theme or the peppy excitement that “Stardust Diving” provides for dumpster diving in an otherwordly junkyard. There are also multiple battle themes which is a thing that I always like to see in games. “Tussle in Trees” provides a fun introductory to combat in OMORI, while “Grimey” provides a more intense beat for some of the late game battles. And this isn’t even getting into the cool boss battle themes.

But again, finding out that much of the work in making the soundtrack was done by an abuser kinda sours it for me. It’s especially tough since the more emotional tracks on the album are part of what sells the game’s big emotional moments.

Man.

Well, uh, it’d be nearly impossible to talk about OMORI without delving into what’s revealed after the prologue, and, well, having whole paragraphs be taken up by ROT13 text doesn’t make for a good reading experience. The problem is, everything that really makes OMORI are the spoilers, so it’s kinda hard to talk about how I feel about this game without talking about them. So from this point, the rest of the post will be divided into MINOR SPOILERS and MAJOR SPOILERS. If you don’t want to be spoiled or read enough spoilers, Ctrl+F for “END OF SPOILERS.”

So, here’s a block of images all “Safe for Work Sasuke” style so that you don’t see spoilers, I guess:

MINOR SPOILERS

As it happens, while you play as him most of the time, Omori is not the true protagonist of the game. At certain points, his real-life counterpart wakes up. He can be named whoever you want, but I’ll stick with his given name of “Sunny.”

While Omori has a willingness to leave the solitude of White Space, Sunny fits the hikikomori label more perfectly in that he has not left his house in years. In fact, he and his mom plan on leaving their home of Faraway Town in a few days, cutting himself off from everything he knew permanently.

But there’s a ring at the door. In the normal route, Sunny musters up his courage and opens it up to see a much older Kel, who had been constantly dropping by to see how Sunny is. Surprised that Sunny actually found the courage to finally come outside, he drags him out to a world that feels familiar.

And so, it becomes apparent that Headspace isn’t just some nonsense world, but a dream version of Sunny’s reality. Many of the NPCs in Headspace are distorted versions of Faraway Town NPCs. Recurring Headspace character Captain Spaceboy is a popular fiction hero, and the reason why there’s so many damn bunny enemies in Headspace is because they were an alien enemy in the last issue Sunny read. Pet Rocks are tamagotchi-like things that can play rock-paper-scissors and Dream!Kel’s pet rock is named after Real!Kel’s dog and Real!Kel’s Pet Rock creature is recurring character Pluto that bonds with Dream!Kel. Everything in Sunny’s reality is reconceptualized to fit into his strange patchwork escape, where everything is goofier and happier.

However, there’s a reason why Sunny’s avatar Omori and the dream versions of his friends are younger than they are in reality – it’s a dream of a time when everything was better.

In reality, Sunny’s sister Mari, the kind older sister that sets up save points for Omori and tries to help his problems in any way she can, had died. The tragedy fractured the friend group horribly, with everyone drifting away into their own bubbles. Sunny unsurprisingly took it the worst, taking to self-isolation and throwing himself into a world where everything is going to be okay.

Within this context, the sentimentality of Headspace becomes bittersweet. Even at its goofiest, there’s still a twinge of sadness underneath when you stop and think about it. It isn’t like something like Undertale where you’re meeting these cool new friends, but instead it feels like hanging on to memories of past friends.

For me in particular, it’s an experience that really resonates with me. I… honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve talked to one of my friends from high school. One of my favorite memories of high school was the last day, where we all got together and had a picnic at the park, trying out our graduation robes and fooling around. Mari’s safe dream picnics and the longing for those days in reality just hits me hard because of it.

Relationships can drift apart for any reason. For me, I just have a terrible inability to start a conversation most of the time, which has led to me not talking to like, 4/5ths of my Discord contacts list, who may as well have forgotten that I existed. In this way, I relate to Sunny because he’s stated to be the passive one in his friend group; while he’s willing to approach others after leaving his house for the first time, he needed that push from Kel to be able to do so in the first place.

So speaking of whom, while I find Sunny to be relatable, I actually don’t see him as a self-insert-type main character and I kinda wish he wasn’t a character you could rename. Despite his silence, he has a very defined history in OMORI‘s world and with other characters – especially with regards to things I’ll get to in the major spoilers section. Besides the elaborate world of Headspace, he often daydreams figments in his Faraway Town segments, leading to things like fighting a monster that’s actually just a poster and seeing a bizarre recycling cult that doesn’t actually exist. In fact, his silence reads off to me as somebody that genuinely prefers not to talk or is uncomfortable with talking instead of being a blank slate for the player to project onto. If anything, Omori is his self-insert.

Faraway Town has a mundane look to it compared to the areas in Headspace, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Everything looks like something that you’d see in a small town or neighborhood. The houses you can enter are detailed with just enough things to give you an impression of the people that live in them, while all the stores are stuffed to make them feel like places you could shop at. The music plays into this image, with “Take a Load Off” providing a jaunty vibe to browsing Hobbeez while songs like “See You Tomorrow” provides a comforting mood at sunset, a warm good bye to friends. While Headspace gives an “I want to live here” vibe because it’s escapism, Faraway Town gives an “I want to live here” vibe because, well, it’d be a nice place to live.

While the Faraway Town segments are short compared to the Headspace segments, there’s a surprising amount of things to do that’s easy to miss. For instance, Sunny can take up playing with Pet Rocks with people around town, which he can pay for by doing small jobs. There are minor side quests around town like the saga of a guy failing miserably at fixing a leaky pipe that needs the emotional support of children standing by. These are all minor things, but it feels meaningful to engage with them because of Sunny’s years of isolation.

In going out with Kel, Sunny witnesses a conflict between Aubrey and Basil, who have taken more drastic changes, because hey, all these characters are now real people and not static re-imaginings. Basil desperately tries to hold on to the sweet boy image seen in Omori’s escapades, but in the modern day reality, that’s soured by a nervous wreck demeanor. As for Aubrey, she’s become a delinquent punk that leads a gang of a bunch of dweebs, having completely forsaken her past friendship.

And so, the real life plot is set into motion, with Sunny reconnecting with his friends before the big move. The game goes from pursuing nostalgic dreams of past friendships to trying to rekindle that past. Everyone has changed in different ways, but surely, those old bonds can’t have fully frayed away… right?

These segments are more reflective of the adventure game side of RPG Maker culture, where you just walk around and interact with people. There are a few battles, but they’re super simplified because hey, you’re in real life and not an RPG. In fact, most of the fights that happen in Faraway Town are against Sunny’s daydreams and Aubrey’s hooligan gang who are the kind of people that’d fight you for no reason as opposed to usual RPG randos.

The most important of these battles are the ones against Something: terrifying manifestations that only Sunny can see. The crayon texture art style is abandoned for these enemies, opting for a bizarre collage art look that makes them nightmarish by contrast. These fights are entirely railroaded, with Sunny trying to confront and master the fears that they represent in spite of being afraid. In turn, Sunny overcoming these fears opens up new areas to explore in Headspace.

As for Headspace, it remains an escape from reality through and through. It’s an ideal world where Sunny’s friends are static characters frozen at a time when Sunny was happy, with a loving sister that will always be around the corner for him, while real world concerns are ignored or easily overcome. There’s the Last Resort section of the game, where everyone Omori knew from the playground has disappeared, forcibly hired to work at the titular area. It reflects the tendencies for relationships to fall apart because of work obligations… but everything is going to be okay, because Omori just swoops in and gets everyone out of their jobs! God. I wish that were real life.

Strangely, this is the only plotline that could have parallels with real world personal issues. In fact, much of what you engage with in Headspace feels completely disconnected besides the recontextualized real world elements. This is especially so with Captain Spaceboy and Sweetheart, two recurring characters whose antics take up a surprising amount of the game’s playtime. It’s almost as if the initial storyline of Basil gets tossed to the wayside.

But the thing is, unlike say, YIIK‘s search for Sammy that gets completely sidelined, there’s actually a pretty good justification for Basil’s sidelining. And so, we move into the major spoilers. Again, Ctrl+F to that phrase I mentioned earlier to skip these spoilers.

MAJOR SPOILERS

Basil relates far more with Sunny’s trauma than the rest of the gang in that he’s also haunted by his own version of Something. His Something is a shadow creature that devours him – but what is the specific trauma that his Something embodies? For a time, players don’t know, because Sunny pushes him away when Basil’s Something becomes known.

And that attitude toward Basil feeds into Headspace. Not only does the plot of pursuing Basil get sidelined, but the characters themselves slowly forget about the quest to begin with. And eventually, Omori’s friends have completely forgotten Basil. At this point, it’s clear that Basil represents something important to Sunny that he’s actively trying to push away, both in the real world and in Headspace.

But then you solve the Hangman Puzzle: “Welcome to Black Space.”

OMORI was a game conceptualized in an era where surreal horror RPG Maker games were a viral hit. While shades of that can be seen all over the place, it’s most strong in the Black Space segment, which essentially transforms OMORI into a Yume Nikki fangame. You’re thrown into a hub where you can enter different worlds through doors like Yume Nikki. Most of the worlds are big and bizarre spaces with scattered setpieces to act as markers, though, there are a few more linear ones that act more like short vignettes. The goal is to find a key in each world; you don’t need to get all the keys to continue the game, but there’s some more special worlds that you’d be missing out on otherwise.

Black Space also represents a turning point for gameplay for the rest of the game, in that it near completely shifts to being an RPG Maker horror game. Any non-hallucination combat that happens from here on out are story fights, where you’d have to be deliberately failing to steer away from their intended goal. The grand RPG world is gone, with the story set on tracks for the rest of the game. It’s a gameplay shift that’s perfectly emblematic of Sunny’s change. If being in a big ol’ JRPG world all isekai style was Sunny’s escape, that world being abandoned represents him coming to terms with why he needed that escape.

Unfortunately, his avatar, Omori wants to maintain this escape. When confronted with Basil, Omori brutally murders him. Omori is much more than a mere avatar, but a representation of everything negative about Sunny, wanting to stick to this horrible dream instead of reconciling with why he’s having it.

There’s one last Faraway Town segment after this. Sunny, Kel and Hero confronts Aubrey to mend broken bridges. To symbolize this, they work together to complete Basil’s photo album – this time, with all the photos of Mari that Aubrey had taken. From here, Sunny can finally do what Omori got to do: spend time doing activities around town with his friends. Ranging from simply reading comics at the hobby shop to spending a quiet day near Mari’s grave, they’re nice cozy scenes of a mending relationship that was a joy to see that feels earned.

But there’s still one more rift: Sunny and Basil’s shared trauma that Omori refuses to acknowledge. Trauma is not something that can easily be ignored. It’s not something that can be pushed aside in favor of escapism or something that can be hidden under a smile. It’s something that needs to be acknowledged and overcome. And to represent this, instead of Omori putting in the work, Sunny enters his dream world himself to confront his traumas head-on.

He gets his own Black Space-like segment, where he puts together a photo album. However, instead of the warm and bittersweet photo albums the player is accustomed to by now, it’s a jigsaw puzzle of memories on the worst day of Sunny and Basil’s lives. When put together, it reveals that Mari’s death was not a suicide as we’re led to believe. Instead, Sunny had accidentally killed her when he pushed her down the stairs in frustration over a duet they’re supposed to perform and Basil had the idea of faking it as a suicide to protect him. Sunny’s vision of Something is a representation of Mari’s hanged corpse staring at him, while Basil’s Something can be read as a literal representation of guilt swallowing him.

But unlike Sunny, Basil does not reconcile with his trauma. Basil takes a toxic positivity approach toward his trauma, trying to smile through it and say that “everything is going to be okay.” Besides the fact that smiling through your problems just dismisses that they exist, Basil takes it into an even more harmful direction, as his faking of Mari’s suicide was his way of refusing to believe that his best friend would ever kill someone, and even comes to believe that their shared hallucination of Something killed her. And really, Basil to me is the most interesting character in the game. He’s dressed in an “uwu soft boy” aesthetic, yet he’s responsible for the most intentionally evil act in the game. Despite that, he’s still somewhat sympathetic in that he did so under a misguided belief in someone’s innate goodness. It’s real Drakengard shit.

His reliance on toxic positivity as a coping mechanism ends in two ways. The first leads to the neutral endings, where it’s no longer enough of a shield for him and he winds up killing himself – whether you witness the direct aftermath or not depends on your choices from there. On the other hand, if Sunny were to confront him, Basil’s toxic delusions leads to him fighting Sunny and stabbing one of his eyes out, setting the stage for the game’s last hour.

The positive messages of OMORI starts to come together toward the end as Sunny explores his old memories while bedridden in the hospital. Sunny had a lot of positive experiences with his friends and sister that he’s buried in favor of wandering around a falsified ideal. Walking down a literal memory lane, he remembers the context behind all the fond times that Basil documented through photos and that he truly cherishes everyone around him. Even if the truth disappoints them, it’s important to let them know what he’s been bottling up, because in the end, despite his passive and quiet nature, he does care about them.

The incident with Mari is labeled as an accident, but it’s not like, “aw shucks, you made a mistake,” but it reads moreso as Sunny re-examining his self-image. Sunny believes that he’s a monster for killing Mari, which is reflected by how his avatar of Omori is openly violent with a wrathful moveset that spreads violence and misery. But in taking this trip through memory lane, he remembers what he is to others and what they mean to him, and that he couldn’t have possibly meant to kill the sister he loved so much.

He repairs a figment of a violin, the instrument that he would have played with Mari at the recital that never came to be and belts out a violin version of Mari’s theme – and then breaks down in grief. But it’s not enough to acknowledge this trauma – he needs to overcome it. And he can’t expect others to forgive him if he can’t even forgive himself. And that last obstacle to self-forgiveness is Omori. With the memories of what Sunny did no longer suppressed and the dream world rejected, Omori takes on a new role: a manifestation of Sunny’s suicidal depression.

Sunny tries to fight him, latching onto the words of the people he loves while striking Omori with the violin he once rejected. But Omori keeps getting back up, turning the “Omori did not succumb” mechanic against you. Omori is no longer a silent character, and he makes his words count as he viciously tears into Sunny throughout the whole fight. He tells Sunny that he’s a burden on everyone around him, that they’ll never forgive him for his actions and that he should just give up and kill himself. The mournful background song is invaded by distorted noise as White Space decays into a nightmare, as Omori continues to push Sunny toward suicide.

This is one of the heaviest things I’ve experienced in a game. A lot of games have made me sad before, but Omori’s harsh words against Sunny felt as much of an attack against me as him. In terms of sad RPG fights, this actually trumps MOTHER 3‘s final battle for me, and believe me when I say that it means a lot. If you’ve ever had depression and/or suicidal thoughts, this is a bleak – yet incredibly powerful – fight to experience.

And I’m going to be real, I wasn’t in a good headspace when I was playing through this game. In fact, the game made me question when’s the last time I’ve ever been in a 100% good mood. I feel that I’m a burden on most of the people I personally know and that I’ve let them down by going to college for 4 years and having nothing to show for it. I don’t feel happy about my body in some aspects and I can’t be fully out like I want to be. I feel that I’m a failure in every creative endeavor I’ve ever taken on my off times from the day job that makes me hate myself. I legitimately feel uncomfortable hanging around my family for too long and I avoid talking to my mom because I somehow leave most conversations with her feeling like complete shit. I’ve recently been coming to terms with the fact that I may have ADHD, which is a thing I’ve never questioned because whenever I displayed those traits, the people around me have called me stupid or lazy all my life.

I first chose not to continue on when Sunny inevitably loses the fight. Part of it was for the sake of completion, but I admit that a part of me just felt sick and wanted it to all be over.

I was treated to a soul crushing ending of Sunny hurling himself off a balcony while bo en’s My Time – the music used in the trailer that started it all – plays to remind you that the song very much is about suicide. Afterward, neither Sunny or Omori greets you on the title screen. Just a calm sky with the sound of the wind whooshing around.

I decided to lay down for a while because I just felt completely devastated.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

In the good ending, Sunny gets back up and instead of continuing to fight against Omori, he starts to play. He plays his part in the duet he was supposed to play with Mari in a symbolic reminder that he truly did love his sister. My heart thus broke in a different way as a video showing his past with Mari and his friends plays alongside a duet of the game’s main leitmotif, representing Sunny coming to terms with the wrong he’s done and serving as a cathartic climax to the game.

To me, the memory lane scenes beforehand goes two ways. On one hand, it’s Omori guilt tripping Sunny by presenting him with fond memories of everyone he loves. These are the people he hurt, these are the people that he doesn’t deserve, that he should just give up and kill himself. On the other hand, under the viewpoint of the good ending, it’s a reminder that there are people that love Sunny, and that he should keep living on for their sake. And that’s honestly something I have to take to heart, too.

Omori stands down and fades away, Sunny fully accepting the negative parts of himself in a healthy way. He then awakens in the hospital, letting out his tears in the strongest show of emotion he’s had in the entire game. If you engaged in the Faraway Town sidequests, he’ll wake up to see flowers and well-wishes from everyone he meaningfully interacted with, in another small reminder of what he means to others.

He enters Basil’s hospital room, where everyone is gathered. And with everyone there, Sunny says his first vocal line: “I have to tell you something.” The screen cuts out, but we know what he wants to talk about. As for Basil, if you took care of his flowers all game, you’re treated to an additional scene of Sunny and Basil with genuine smiles on their faces, their shared hallucinations of Something fading away along with their guilt of hiding the truth.

…And the game ends there. And really, it’s the perfect end to OMORI. Apologizing for a mistake doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re forgiven, especially if there’s still material consequences – especially one as grave as Sunny’s. But the important thing is to take accountability for what you’ve done for the peace of mind of everyone involved and to be honest with the people you care about. Sunny and Basil find peace in Sunny’s decision to come clean – whether or not their friends forgive them is something for fans to speculate on and write fan fiction about.

There is one other route in OMORI, though. One that I ended up watching separately because uhh, the main route minus all the bonus stuff is already 25 hours long. If you were to have Sunny ignore Kel on the first day and stay indoors, you’ll start what’s been dubbed as the “Hikikomori Route.”

On this route, Omori completely takes over Sunny. Because Sunny never takes the first step toward reconnecting with his friends and thus risking opening up about his past, Omori is instead happy to explore Headspace, which is now expanded with new areas and bosses.

In this route, the grand JRPG lie that Headspace presents is maintained. With Basil no longer a threat to Omori’s false peace of mind, the “find Basil” plot is not thrown to the wayside, with Omori saving Headspace!Basil instead of killing him in Black Space. Additionally, some loose threads are addressed, mainly that of Captain Spaceboy and Sweetheart; in the main route, they become loose ends that are forgotten because Sunny’s no longer interested in the fake story, but here, they still hold relevance to Omori. The nature of Headspace, White Space and Black Space are also further explored, since, hey, this is the new normal.

The Headspace plot is maintained… but is it worth it? Because Omori completely takes over, the story that actually is important never happens. Everybody in real life still believes that Mari committed suicide, left to wonder how they could have prevented it. Aubrey remains an aggressive punk on bad terms with her old friends. Basil is left alone to wallow in his own crushing guilt while Omori throws Sunny’s guilt to the side in favor of escapism – and it’s heavily implied that even in the best outcome of the Hikikomori Route, Basil will commit suicide, anyway.

But it’s not as if Sunny himself gets a happy ending either. In embracing Omori, Sunny completely embraces his self-view as a monster. The Somethings are no longer manifestations of trauma for Sunny to emotionally reconcile with, but are now bosses for Omori to physically beat. In killing these figments, Omori unlocks brand new, more aggressive skills to reflect Sunny’s horrible self-image, including a lovely one of suffocating enemies to fuck up their defenses. Omori becomes a killing machine, which goes against the positive development Sunny would have had otherwise.

And it’s not as if Sunny’s suicidal depression has gone away, either. In real life, Omori soon starts to be followed by Something, a hanging reminder of a problem that will never be solved. Omori also gets the choice to commit suicide in two different ways on the last day, and the sheer ease at doing so gives the implication that if Omori doesn’t guide Sunny to suicide today, him and the crushing guilt of Something will easily drive him to it in the future. So even then, the “best” outcome feels very hollow.

The Hikikomori Route essentially showcases how Sunny’s coping mechanisms are dangerously flawed ways of addressing guilt and depression. Living an escapist fantasy does not give him a satisfying ending. Him sticking to self-isolation clearly makes his problems worse, since it allows the worst parts of himself to take over.

You can’t depend on the people you love to completely fix you, but ultimately, reaching out to them is a good first step.

END OF SPOILERS

OMORI is a journey that can go to intense places. While there’s plenty of laughs and sweet moments, there’s a lot of bleak tragedy that had me feeling sincere despair. It’s a journey that feels like a love letter to RPG Maker games, be it actual RPGs or games that steer the engine toward adventure and horror, and it’s a journey that’s worth the long wait.

OMORI is one of those games where most of my problems with the game itself are pretty minor. Like yeah, the fast travel system should just bring me to my destination instead of playing the same set of cutscenes. And yeah, there’s very little preventing you from cheesing everything with the basic Aubrey headbutting strategy.

Really, the biggest problem with OMORI that one would have is Pedro Silva’s name being attached. As I said before, I support the game since their behavior legitimately didn’t seem to be known to most of the rest of the team, but I will not support the soundtrack. That said, if you like the soundtrack you should directly support co-composer Jami Lynne through her work as Clover & Sealife and Space Boyfriend and if you like My Time, you should check out bo en’s Pale Machine from which it originated.

When OMORI started clicking for me, I went into a mad gaming marathon, which is not something I do with a lot of games. In fact, I would consider it to be one of my favorite games ever – but there’s still that bad connection that’s hard to deny. Personally? It’s a game that makes me want to be a better friend and to reach out to others about how I feel more. Even though OMORI put me through horrible despair, I walked out of it feeling uplifted in spite of it.

2 comments

  1. Omori is a game about confessing guilt as the right choice and Slime Girls confessed their guilt too. Now I don’t mean to White Knight Slime Girls because they should suffer the consequences for their actions. What I am calling attention too is that it is way easier to romanticize a comic/cartoon/game character and forgive them than a 3D real life past abuser. Also note a game about a person hiding past bad behavior was created by at least one person who lived 5 years of their life hiding their own bad behavior. Like how God of War (2018) is a game about a neglectful parent who reconnects with his child and it was made by parents who neglected their children to work long hours to make God of War (2018) as detailed in one of their team interviews.

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