Elder Sign: Omens is an iPad adaptation of the popular Elder Sign dice game that takes place in the Arkham Horror Universe. Arkham Horror is Fantasy Flight Games’ extremely successful Call Of Cthulhu and H.P Lovecraft-themed dice game. Still following? Awesome.
When I sat down to review Omens, I tried my best to disassociate myself with the physical dice game, but found it incredibly difficult to do when I have spent so much time with the physical game. Starting up the game for the first time you are treated to some very well-done graphics and a lengthy tutorial that gives you a good grasp of the basics, but still leaves you with a few questions, mostly in reference to the terminology used. After a few games, this becomes a non-issue, but may turn off some newer players.
The game is based on you and your team of investigators trying to prevent the awakening of an Elder God, which would bring about the end of the world itself. (Naturally.) You are tasked with various missions as you travel through the museum attempting to collect “Elder Signs” (See? the title comes into play!) before the doom clock runs out and the world and possibly the entire universe itself ends! Each mission is completed by matching icons on the “glyphs” that are rolled. In the physical game, they are dice with different symbols which I feel would have been happier with, since there is a leap of logic required when “Casting Glyphs” and a natural connection to “Rolling Dice” This is also where the game engine falters a bit. The fact that it is so dice-based means there are some games you just will want to throw your iPad through a window in frustration after bad roll after bad roll. Sorry, I meant to say “after bad glyphs…”
One thing that jumps out at you is the fantastic interface and really stellar art, all brought in from the dice game, so you know you are getting a very polished product and not some half-baked knock-off.
Omens plays at a decent pace, but once the mid-game is reached there are so many triggered effects and things happening that it can get a bit overwhelming at times.
All that said, the game is not easy. It will challenge even the most experienced Elder Sign players which is great, but the learning curve is a bit high for entry-level players. Oddly, I found myself frustrated at the difficulty then surprised moments later when I was able to complete multiple missions without the aid of any items or “Clues” (Re-rolls). Turns out the increased difficulty compared to the physical game was intentional by Fantasy Flight Games, according to their website:
“A number of subtle changes increase the peril of defending humanity. For example, the random negative effects drawn every midnight are more challenging, and the frequency of “no effect” results has been decreased. Monsters have likewise been altered to make them more difficult.”
Normally, Omens is priced at $6.99 USD ($3.99 USD for iPhone/iPod/Android version. The iPad version was the only one reviewed), which is a premium price for an iPad game, however you are getting a true dice game experience that doesn’t cut corners in the transition, and is definitely worth it if you are a fan of the source material or H.P Lovecraft/Cthulhu in general.
I would love to see more Fantasy Flight-branded games brought over to the mobile platforms- Blood Bowl or any of the Living Card Games would be especially thrilling, but as Elder Sign: Omens was released a few months after the dice game, which was about 2 years ago, it really is a shame we haven’t seen more adaptations since then. Omens is definitely a hidden gem on the App Store for dice game fanatics, and those looking for a unique Cthulhu experience.