Omnichronic is a clever point and click game from Jonas Nilsson that gives you everything you'd expect from a Pirate's tale. Buried treasure. Swashbuckling. Backstabbing. Time travel. Yes you heard me correctly, time travelling pirates. Throw in some Dwarves and essentially that makes it 'Time Bandits - The Game' and who wouldn't want to play that!
Omnichronic begins predictably enough. A Ship's captain and his sole crew member, you, find yourselves on a Caribbean island burying treasure. A map is drawn and you each take half of to ensure neither of you can find it again without the other. To celebrate a job well done the Captain invites you back to his mansion to admire his art (not a euphemism) and then, as if in a comic book, the panel moves to the right and you're at your destination.
Once at the Captain's abode you get the feeling all is not as it seems. The Captain's taste in art is questionable at best, his lack of knowledge about the artists is worrying and what is he fidgeting with every time you turn your back? After tiring of looking at all two paintings and trying to leave the room a strange figure appears at the doorway from thin air, announcing his arrival with a nice reference to Hal 900. After some back-and-forth which threatens to break the fourth wall between player and character you realise he is from the future, and he can let you travel through time too using a Geordi La Forge style visor. By travelling forward you discover the Captain's true intentions to take all of the treasure for himself and you need to stop him before he takes your part of the map with bloodthirsty consequences.
The concept of time travel in a game isn't a new one however it's the way it's done that makes this game stand out. The comic book style panels don't just move the story along in a linear fashion they provide the mechanism for time travel, moving to panels earlier in the story to travel backwards in time and moving to panels on the right to move into the future. With only three panels though it really limits the size of the world and the number of puzzles that can be incorporated. Sometimes the game feels more like a piece of interactive fiction but the narrative is strong enough to carry it and make you want to play your way to the end.
One big pitfall of the game however is the voice acting, or rather the lack of it, there are just nonsensical grunts in place of speech. It reminds me of playing WWF superstars on my Game Boy (look it up, kids) when any of the wrestlers took a hit. I understand creating games comes with a budget and it has perhaps been done to save on voice acting costs but, honestly, it would have been better to have left all sound out entirely. With no option to mute the speech you'll have a tough decision to make - suffer the caveman noise or mute your speakers meaning you'll lose the ambient sound and therefore the atmosphere. I'd choose the latter.
Don't let this put you off though, this game is definitely worth playing through for the interesting storyline and the few puzzles it has. As with all good games Omnichronic has a shock ending leaving the possibility of a sequel. I hope Jonas does create one, but a more expanded version allowing for more exploration, more interaction and more tasks to complete. Oh, and proper voice actors.