Omen, Get A Load Of This Guy
Iron Galaxy kicked off the new year in delightfully demonic style with the release of January’s Season 2 character, Omen, or as he likes to proclaim, the one and only Herald of Gargos. Ooooh, well get you, Mr. bluey-too-shoes.
A crackling blue shadowy man-bat beast with a horned mask, Omen is an ethereal manifestation of Jago’s evil tiger spirit (previously revealed to be the demon Gargos in Killer Instinct 2) who has outgrown and overpowered his host’s body. Essentially then, Omen’s a sort of nightmare parasite; he’s been incubating and feeding off Jago’s powers as the notoriously brutal Shadow Jago (who collectively beat the shit out of the Killer Instinct community as the hidden Season 1 boss), and now he’s powerful enough to take the fight to his enemies face to shadow face as the demon spirit Omen. Wonderful.
After such a dramatic divergence and rebirth, it’s only fitting then that Omen inherits the Shadow Tiger’s Lair as his own personal stage; one which now comes complete with a twisted new shadowy theme to compliment its new owner. Thanks once again to the awesome audio talents of Mick Gordon, Shadow Tiger’s lair now has a really nice metalled up version of Jago’s theme, complete with some great death metal screaming replacing the traditional monk chants, chugging palm-muted downstrokes and overall, a faster, punchier and more aggressive feel to all aspects of the track.
A Monument To All Our Sins
Designed as an exclusive mid-season bonus character for owners of the Ultra and Combo editions of Season 2, Omen brings some interesting new shadowy things to the battered and blood-soaked table of Killer Instinct.
In terms of his fighting style, Omen has some pretty interesting mechanics to learn. He has a kind of hybrid fighting style which draws predominantly from Jago and Shadow Jago’s movesets (as you might expect) but also incorporates some Glacius-style long ranged projectile attacks into his varied repertoire, not to mention a dash of Sabrewulf, a pinch of Thunder, a sprinkle of Sadira and Orchid in there as well – just like there is in most fine cuisine, come to think about it.
I think that this idea that the Omen spirit has been learning the characteristic moves, traits and behaviours of the Season 1 cast is a particularly awesome idea. It’s as though through all those countless controller-breaking moments of frustration when he was collectively battering the Killer Instinct community as Shadow Jago were real within in the unfolding story and lore of KI; our combined failures to thwart Shadow Jago were instrumental to the character’s evolution. This separate manifestation of the fiendishly evil spirit into his own unique form incorporating aspects from all the fighters he’s vanquished is a really neat concept; allowing Iron Galaxy to pay nods to the Double Helix Season 1 character cast in an inspired and creative way.
Splash The Rash
So, let’s get down to business and have a look at Omen’s command list. Again, just as a word of caution for anyone who’s new to my Killer Instinct character guides; I’m by no means an expert player, so I can’t offer in-depth frame-by-frame analysis or pro competition tips. I consider myself to be a friendly and enthusiastic member of the baby pool of Killer Instinct, so while I can’t tell you how to dominate at the top level, hopefully I can steer a fellow beginner/intermediate player wanting to learn Omen somewhat along the right path with some handy tips and observations about the character.
All of Omen’s special move inputs have a classic fireball/quarter-circle motion to them, and aesthetically speaking, they can be roughly divided into kick and projectile attacks. First up, let’s look at the Rashakuken, which as the name implies, is a borrowing from Jago’s repertoire, but one that’s been mutated with some unique shadowy twists.
The Rashakuken is Omen’s offensive projectile attack, which launches glowing blue energy orbs at your enemy in a similar style to Jago’s Endokukens. Performed with Quarter-circle Forward + Punch, the strength of the attack determines how many Rashakukens you throw out – Heavy sends three orbs flying, Medium two and Light projects out a single orb.
What’s interesting about the attack is that the Rashakuken projectiles that Omen throws out all have randomly generated properties. This means that unlike Jago’s Endokukens or Glacius’ Hail balls, Omen’s Rashakukens operate on a random luck-based algorithm, and can’t be predictably relied upon to operate identically when in battle.
This adds an interesting Russian roulette element of chance to his projectile combat. While most of these Rashakuken properties are normally incredibly useful – such as homing, spinning or crawling projectiles – bear in mind that you can occasionally get a dud one which will just embarrassingly plop onto the ground, and usually at the most inopportune moments too.
To keep you from just filling the screen with countless Rashakukens, you can’t perform any form of the move again until all the current projectiles have hit their target or have disappeared offscreen/timed out, so bear this in mind if you’re wanting to keep your opponent pressured from afar. There is a way around this however, but we’ll come to that shortly.
The Shadow Rashakuken does operate more predictably than the standard version of the attack however; Omen launches a volley of three orbs which, after a brief pause to line up, hurtle directly toward your opponent one after the other. Used at the end of a combo, the Heavy Rashakuken acts as Omen’s Battery Ender. In fact, all of Omen’s Enders are Battery Enders plus another quality, but this one appears to be his primary method of gaining shadow meter.
As a defensive mirror to the Rashakuken, Omen’s Orda Shield is an arcing projectile move which sees Omen swipe a blue energy orb in an overhead sweep. The onscreen motion of the move is nicely copied by the controls; Quarter-circle Back + Punch makes Omen curve an Orda orb though the air.
Naturally, the Orda Shield operates most effectively as a great anti-air/wakeup tool, but it can take a bit of time to learn the necessary timing and distance of the attack to make the orb consistently connect with your mid-air opponent at a variety of angles. The Heavy version of the move has the highest but slowest arc, Light is the lowest and fastest, and the arc of the Medium attack lies – would you have guessed it – in the middle of the two extremes.
The shadow version of the move generates a set of three orbs which circle Omen in a defensive perimeter. These act as both a sort of temporary armour for Omen, and a means of inflicting extra damage and points to the combo meter once in the middle of a combo. Used at the end of a combo, the Heavy version of the Orda Shield acts as Omen’s Battery and Launcher Ender.
Kicking Above His Weight
Okay, so those are Omen’s projectile-based special moves. Time to look at his crazy kick attacks.
First up, we’ve got the Furious Flurry. This move is a lightning fast (and no doubt painful) series of kicks to the body and face of your opponent. Performed with Quarter-circle Forward + Kick, the move can be used as a combo opener, combo linker, and the Heavy version used whilst in a combo acts as Omen’s Battery and Keepaway Ender.
The Shadow Furious Flurry is interesting, as it unleashes a flurry of five Rashakuken projectiles which shoot across the screen at various unpredictable angles. Used up close as a combo opener or linker, it looks and functions just like any other shadow opener/linker but when used from a distance, the Shadow Furious Flurry gives you even more ranged options to play with. This is the method I was referring to earlier about being able to fire off more projectiles if you’ve still got some stray Rashakukens floating around onscreen and you need to keep up the projectile pressure on your opponent.
Of course, the major move that gave so many players grief when fighting Shadow Jago has transitioned to Omen’s moveset – the Demon Slide. This deadly forward slide move that devastated so many players in the hidden Season 1 boss fight can now finally be yours by pressing Quarter-circle Back + Kick. Just like the Shadow Jago move, the move swaps you to the other side of your opponent when it hits, regardless of whether the move is blocked or it connects. The Shadow Demon Slide hits five times in total, switching to your opponent’s other side on the final impact. Like the Furious Flurry, Demon Slide can be used as a combo Opener, Linker and whilst in a combo, as Omen’s Battery and Heavy Knockdown Ender with the Heavy version of the attack.
With such a cool pair of batwings, it makes sense that Omen has some interesting airborne abilities at his disposal. While you can’t fly per se as Omen (and the awesome batwings only appear when he jumps…sadface), the heraldic messenger of Gargos does have a very floaty jump instead – this, as you can imagine, is great for crossups and combo openers. You can dash forwards and backwards in mid-air to give yourself more airborne manoeuvrability, and even give Sadira a run for her money with the ways you can toy with your opponent on the ground.
Speaking of manoeuvrability, pressing all three kick buttons with a bar of shadow meter allows Omen to briefly travel in any direction. Known as Shadow Form, this sneaky move is fantastic for setting up crossups, and it gives you some limited mix-up potential – it effectively functions similarly to Thunder’s Instinct dash, only you can shoot off at any angle you press the control stick/d-pad. Combine a pair of shadowy bat wings with the ability to travel in any direction momentarily, and you can really catch people off-guard time and time again – trust me.
You Cheeky Devil
However, if you really want to catch your opponent off guard and get them really sweating, then it’s time to go all out for the Demonic Despair. You may have already noticed in these screenshots that Omen (aside the fact that he’s a cool shadowy demon…thing) is the first character in the Killer Instinct roster to have not one, not two, but a massive three-bar shadow meter. Pretty neat huh? As you might expect, there’s a very cool thing you can do with a full three-bar meter, and Demonic Despair is it.
When you’ve got a full three bars of shadow meter, and you’re close enough to your opponent to grab them, press Quarter-circle Forward + Light Punch + Light Kick. This is an absolutely brutal move in which Omen grabs his opponent, hoists them into the air and unleashes a brutal pillar of energy into their body, before chucking them away at full screen distance, all the while chuckling mercilessly. Though the attack itself doesn’t technically inflict any real damage to your opponent, their entire lifebar is instead converted into 100% potential damage; this means that you only need to start a combo and immediately end it in order to wipe out the entire lifebar.
However, in the immortal words of Uncle Ben (Peter Parker’s elderly uncle and incidentally also the microwaveable rice pioneer), with great power comes great…risks, not responsibility. This move requires all three shadow bars to pull off, whether the move connects or misses, and due to its long startup animation, it can be interrupted really easily, all your meter can be wiped before you’ve even started by a timely punch from your opponent. Much like with Fulgore’s ‘Hype Beam’, it’s probably not wise to base your entire winning strategy around building up all your meter for just one powerful but risky move. Instead, it’s best thought of as another option to bear in mind if you’re fully juiced up and a good opportunity to grab your opponent becomes available in the heat of battle.
Rounding out this written crash course to Omen’s special moves and abilities, we’ve got Omen’s Instinct mode, the ominously named Shadow Gathering. When activated, Omen will throw out one additional projectile per Rashakuken attack, and an extra two orbs for the Shadow Rashakuken and Shadow Orda Shield moves. What’s particularly interesting however is that whilst you’re in Instinct and a Rashakuken or an Orda orb hits your opponent, they will actually get locked out of one of their shadow meter bars for a couple of seconds; hit them with two or more and they’ll get locked out of both. In other words, you can prevent your opponent from doing any shadow attacks for a brief window of time; an opportunity to swing a losing battle back your way. Very useful stuff indeed.
Additionally, you can also lock opponents out of their shadow meter by successfully pulling off a round of Demons Loop – this is Omen’s combo trait, and it effectively operates as the inverse of Jago’s ‘Around the World’ trait. Whereas Around the World lets you string together Jago’s autodoubles as long as you keep a descending strength pattern of attacks going (from Heavy to Medium to Light), Omen’s Demon Loop lets you string together the blue demon’s autodoubles by hitting attack buttons in an ascending strength pattern (Light to Medium to Heavy). As with any character-specific pattern of autos like Demon Loop however, it’s best not to constantly use the same pattern for all of your combos, otherwise you’ll be continually wrenched out of combos by your opponent’s C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER…s.
From my own personal experience playing Omen over the last couple of weeks, he definitely feels like a very fun and relatively easy to use character with plenty of options to his moveset that will suit players who like both rushdown and keepaway tactics.
In particular, I found that Omen’s Rashakuken projectiles are incredibly good at playing a ranged game with your opponent – they’re so good that he’s even great at pressuring long-distance punchers such as Glacius and Kan-ra. As a primary Glacius player myself, I can say from bitter experience that you can quickly find yourself getting battered by Omen’s projectiles from afar, and unless you’ve got a stock of shadow meter to do Shadow Hail, then you can rather humiliatingly find yourself getting beaten at your own long distance game.
While Omen’s projectiles are all random, and while he can often potentially throw out a dud or two, they can still cause a lot of pressure for your opponent. As long as you’re launching two or more at a time then you can quite comfortably sit back and shell your opponent from long range. Just remember that if you do like to play a keepaway ranged game with Omen, always be aware of the spacing between you and your opponent, and consider how much time you’ve got to fire off Rashakukens. While the Heavy Punch version of the move spits out three orbs at a time, remember that you can only perform another Rashakuken move once all three of your projectiles have hit your opponent or disappeared offscreen.
This means that if you throw out a bunch of duds, then you temporarily won’t be able to use the Rashakuken to keep your opponent at bay, and you may need to think about using your Orda shield or going on the offensive instead. Don’t forget that you can also fire off additional projectiles by performing a Shadow Furious Flurry if you’re desperately needing to launch another volley of orbs at short notice.
The Light version of the Orda Shield is a fantastic recovery tool, as it’s invulnerable on startup, meaning that you can throw it out without having to worry about it being interrupted. Again, as when throwing our Rashakukens, just be aware of how fast your opponent can close the distance to you as the Orda Shield leaves you wide open for attack if you get the timing wrong.
The Demon Slide is a great tool for closing distances and starting combos, but just like Orchid’s slide, it’s pretty unsafe if blocked. The Light version is generally safe though short range, and whilst medium and heavy versions can connect from further out, they leave you wide open for a counterattack if correctly anticipated and blocked, so just keep in mind what strength you’re using, and how far out you’re planning to slide into your attack from. If you’re looking at anything from over half the screen away or more, then consider getting into the air and dashing into an overhead combo as an alternative way of covering distance and simultaneously opening a combo.
From my own time in ranked and exhibition matches, while I didn’t particularly come across any specifically difficult character matchups for Omen, the rushdown characters such as Sabrewulf, TJ Combo and Sadira could sometimes give me trouble when I tried to rely too much on spamming them with projectiles from afar and they’d manage to get in close. While I’d personally say Omen perhaps operates best with some distance between him and his opponent, don’t be afraid to rush in from the air as well as the ground to keep your opponent worried about you whether you’re up in the face or at distance.
The main thing I’d say to take away from all this noob-level advice that I’m spouting is just to have a bit of an experiment. See what works for you and what doesn’t. Omen has a lot of interesting mechanics at play in his design, and while perhaps not as balanced and well-rounded as Jago, the other character’s influences on Omen’s command list mean that he has several varied options of attack to choose from at all times. I tended to play him as a keepaway zoner, but perhaps that’s because I normally play as Glacius and it’s my normal modus operandi. Try pressuring from the air like Sadira using your winged swoops. Have a go at playing a close-up rushdown game like Sabrewulf with your kicks and slides. Keep things unpredictable with your Thunder-like Shadow Form. Experiment, have fun, and above all, keep things Omenous…sorry, had to do it.
So that’s my paltry beginner knowledge and insight into Omen; time for you to have a go at wrestling with your own inner blue parasitic demons. We’ve got the goliath golem Aganos to look forward to later this month, so enjoy swooping, kicking and Rashakukening about in the shadows for the time being and be ready to rock out with Aganos when he drops (like a stone, probably) later this month.