Tribute Thursday: Omikron: The Nomad Soul

It’s been a bit of a strange week — and that’s because it’s been a week where Hideo Kojima was prominent. So in honour of things that are autere, strange and full of action, let’s wind back the clock to a game that was equally bizarre.

It’s not every day that you play a game with David Bowie. Or a game with a David Bowie performance. Or a game where David Bowie had some input into the story. But Omikron: The Nomad Soul had all of these things in the one package, a package which also functioned as most people's first introduction into the weird, weird mind of David Cage.

The Nomad Soul was a weird mash-up of genres. Depending on how far you'd progressed, the game could be a first-person shooter, a puzzler, a third-person 3D fighting game or a traditional action adventure. It was absurdly ambitious, and — like every David Cage game, really — it didn't always meet its lofty goals.

Omikron is the name of the city that you're unceremoniously dropped into, a city broken up into several districts where the occupants are forbidden from travelling into neighbouring regions. (You could say they are, ahem, Caged. I'll show myself out now.)

From the off, you're asked to abandon your dimension — stay with me here — to investigate a series of serial killings in Omikron. That investigation soon indicates that the murderer may have certain dealings with the occult, although by that stage my level of comprehension for proceedings had already jumped off a cliff, dived into the Mariana Trench and through the centre of the earth.

Let's return to Bowie for a bit here. He pops up in The Nomad Soul twice, first as the character 'Boz' and secondly as the nameless lead vocalist for 'The Dreamers', who wander around Omikron doing illegal gigs. Some of the tracks from his Hours album were also for the game, which were then re-written for the album's proper release.

There's a video of some of Bowie's contributions as Boz to the game below, which isn't a bad way to blow almost six minutes on a Thursday.

And if you're still confused as all hell, here's some 1080p footage of the first half hour. It's a bit messy, although that's less a David Cage thing and more the fact that most games from 1999 haven't held up spectacularly well. (System Shock 2 aside, obviously.)

God that moment when the demon appears and the music breaks out is hilarious.

If you're intrigued and want to spend a night getting thoroughly confused, you can still buy Omikron: The Nomad Soul from Good Old Games for under $15. It doesn't have a full five-star rating, which in GOG terms is basically equivalent to a middle-of-the-run experience. You know how nostalgia works.

What are your memories of Omikron: The Nomad Soul like?


    I just purchased it for the Dreamcast this week, so hopefully it arrives next week! Omikron has been sitting on my pile of shame for many, many years, and I hope to rectify that soon! :)

    I LOVED this game, I wish Quantic Dream would do a sequel, or a remake then sequel. Shame the sequel plans never came to fruition

    The whole idea of becoming someone else when you died was great, taking over the body of an NPC as opposed to going back to a check or save point.

    The big boss fight was pretty good if I remember, simple though

    I LOVE this game!! I only actually played it in its entirety within the past few years. I remember I had a demo of it when it was released from a PC Gamer CD and like any demo played the tiny portion over and over for months. If ever all traces of this game vanished at least the first portion of the game could be recreated perfectly from my memory. That Bowie performance at the start with the epic credits sequence belonged on Rage!

    I remember this game all too well. I still have the hard copy that I purchased from The Reject Shop of all places however many years ago. I was hell-bent on getting the nurse as powerful as possible! :D

    I still have my copy lying around somewhere, still quantic dreams best game by far, especially that you actually have to play the game (rather than just hit a button in a sequence)

    In all honesty... This is one of the most memorable games I've ever played. It was surprising to me because i hate third person games with a passion. Graphics and clunky movement aside (felt like a bad console to pc port), it's the most immersive game I have ever played.
    For me it ranks right up there with the best in pc gaming history. Omikron, Half Life, Blood, System Shock 2, Blade Runner, the original Thief... these are the games I remember.
    Need to dig up my hard copy.
    Games today look and feel great for a few hours... this game immersed you in it.

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