We have just lost one of the most legendary figures in rock music, the brilliant David Bowie at 69 years old. Luckily, his work will live on forever, even his curious work in the 1999 game Omikron.
2016 has started in the worst possible way. A few days into it and we’ve already had our first legendary rockstar passing away – after a long, hard battle against cancer, the famed musician, painter, producer and personiality David Bowie (best known for albums like The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust, Honky Dory, or Blackstar from a couple days ago) has left this mortal soil, and we miss him so much already. In his constant search for innovation, experimentation and building new ways of expression, Bowie did much more than just music, and for example was one of the main characters in the movie Labyrinth, had a hilarious cameo in Zoolander, and was even one of the main characters in a 1999 video game titles “Omikron: The Nomad Soul”, which was Quantic Dream and David Cage’s debut in the gaming world (the team behind Heavy Rain, Farenheit: Indigo Prophecy and Beyond: Two Souls).
Bowie was far from the only musician to ever appear in a video game (the fantastic Brutal Legend had like half of the heavy metal pantheon and that’s just one game!), but his role in Omikron: The Nomad Soul was special for appearing right at the end of the 90s, when representing someone’s face using polygons was still a challenge – but as ever, David Bowie was way ahead of the curve. This Eidos video game came out in 1999 for PCs and in 2000 for DreamCast, and although none of the versions were a resounding success, it did earn kind of a cult following despite never making it to the PS2, the best selling console of all time, which was making its debut around that time. Just like with every Quantic Dream game, Omikron is a weird, disjointed experience, and while it plays mostly like an adventure game (not unlike Deus Ex), it also combines many other concepts, ideas and minigames.
In this game, players will control a character living in the city of Omikron, which is under control of a tyrannic artificial intelligence – all very dystopic. Bowie appears as the face and voice of a character named Boz, the leader of a group that exists inside the net and fights the system from within. As Quantic Dream loved collaborating with David Bowie so much, they also created a completely new character for him, the frontman of a rock band called “The Dreamers”, which plays some of his songs, and that can be found hosting shows throughout the game which the player can attend as easter eggs. The experience was so positive for Bowie that he reused many of the concepts, melodies and ideas for his 1999 album “Hours…”.
Omikron: The Nomad Soul wasn’t exactly a success, but was enough to launch David Cage’s career, along with the rest of his team’s. The game spent some time as a forgotten gem, unplayable on modern systems until the GOG.com rescued it from oblivion and released it as a digital version for PC. If you like Bowie and gaming, maybe playing this piece of history will help tou cope with the pain of losing such a legend, and if this game is just too weird for you, it’s still okay, for Google confirms that David Bowie is in every video game ever. See you soon, Black Star!
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