Last month I wrote about Fantasy Flight’s new game set in the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft, Elder Sign. If you want to understand what I’m going to be talking about today I recommend you read the linked post first. At the end of last week the company released a trimmed down version of the game for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices called Elder Sign: Omens. Since I enjoy playing the real-world version so much I thought I’d give its virtual twin a try as well. Omens is mostly a trimmed down version of Elder Signs, the only Ancient One you battle against is Azathoth, who when it is summoned immediately ends the game (I imagine this was done to remove the added complication of fighting the Ancient One,) Ally cards are removed from the game, and the random effects that occur as the game progresses (clock strikes midnight) are unknown to the player(s) and there appear to be more negative effects (monsters appear or doom track advances) than not (edit: checking the game’s website over confirms that suspicion and informs me that monsters have been made more difficult too.) Oh, and players are limited to just four investigators and game play is restricted to passing the device around between players.
The nicest thing about turning board games into video games is that all the rules are automated and you can be sure you’re playing the game correctly (Fantasy Flight is notorious for having large, poorly organized, vague rule books. Players live for the FAQs to these games!) They’ve done a good job with Omens in making everything clear and understandable to the player without cluttering up the screen. Tap a location, character, enemy, clock, any item, etc. and a screen pops up explaining what this piece means, does, etc. There are tutorial videos as well to guide players through the game as well. Music, sound effects, and simple animations have also been incorporated into the game.
All in all it’s a pretty good little game. It might get a little boring after awhile always having to deal with Azathoth. One of the coolest moments in Arkham Horror or Elder Sign is failing to keep the Ancient One from manifesting and then having to confront it. Yes, you usually die when this happens but the rare occasions when you defeat them are etched in my mind as some of my greatest gaming moments, ever. That and not being able to play with other people through asynchronous wireless are the game’s biggest problems.