The Complexity of Omori


Claire Lattimore

Escapism; “The tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.” Omori follows the story of a young boy named “Sunny” who lives within his mind through an alter ego of his past self called “Omori.” He dreams of a world that is full of friends, bright colors and everything fun, all the while there is a deep seeded guilt that caused the creation of this “dream world” in the first place. 


If it wasn’t obvious already, this article will contain spoilers for the entire game. I strongly encourage you to play it for yourself before reading, although do be warned that the game (and this article) contains aspects of depression, anxiety, trauma and suicide. Omori is a game that deals with depression, anxiety, trauma and guilt in ways I’ve never seen any video game showcase before. Not only that, but it touches on how everyone has different coping mechanisms, the importance of communication, and seeing things from someone else’s point of view.


Omori was the first game made by indie studio Omocat, it was known for being stuck in development hell for 6 years until its eventual release in 2020. The game went on to receive two honorable mentions at the 2021 Independent Games Festival, as well as three nominations in DreamHack’s 2021 “Dreamies” awards, winning the “Daringly Dramatic” prize. Critics have praised Omori for it’s incredible storytelling, such as Patrick Hancock of Destructoid who stated: “I don’t know the last game that really hit me so emotionally like Omori did.” Or Julie Fukunaga of Wired magazine who expressed her admiration of the game’s psychological depth, saying: “I was moved by the game’s explorations of grief, reflecting on the power of nostalgia to conjure fond memories of the past, as well as a deep sadness for what can no longer be.” 


I’m sure by now you’re dying to know what makes Omori so great, so without further delay, allow me to lay out the story for you. The main character, Sunny, stays in bed all day, dreaming of his own made-up fantasy world where he goes on adventures with his childhood friends: Aubrey, Basil, Kel, Hero and his older sister, Mari. It’s all fun and games until you realize he has been shutting himself in his room, and dreaming for four years. 


Four years prior, Sunny had gotten into an argument with his older sister at the top of a flight of stairs. Sunny, in a fit of anger, accidentally pushes his sister down the stairs, killing her in the process. Sunny immediately panics upon realizing what he’s done, trying to bring her back up the stairs to put her in bed, thinking she just needed rest. He quickly realizes that she is dead and isn’t coming back. It’s then that his friend Basil, who was at his house at the time of the accident, reassures Sunny, telling him he has a plan. The two boys proceed to drag Mari’s body into the backyard, along with a toy box and a jump rope. They tie the jump rope into a noose and use the toy box as a stepping stool to hang Mari on a tree branch, making it seem like she had committed suicide. As Sunny and Basil make their way back into the house, they look back at her body hanging from the tree, her dark hair covering her face but with one eye wide open, staring back at them. When this all happens, Basil and Sunny are only 12 years old. This leads everyone to believe that Mari had killed herself, causing the group to fall out and separate. All the while only Basil and Sunny know what truly happened, as the years go on, the guilt they feel festers deep within them until it becomes too much to bear.


The personification of Sunny’s trauma, referred to as “something” throughout the game.


Starting with the biggest symbolism in the game, during your time in Sunny’s “dream world” you encounter this specific creature a few times throughout the game, often found in discrete or closed-off areas before quickly disappearing. In some cases, it even follows close behind Sunny, looming over him. When we learn the truth behind Mari’s death, we find out that this creature is the personification of Sunny’s trauma and guilt, specifically, Mari’s hanging body. Her long dark hair that hung over her face, and the one eye that stared back at him had been ingrained into his mind and become it’s own entity in his supposed “safe space” in his mind. The recurrence of this entity shows how Sunny’s guilt is constantly following him, and no matter what he does he can never escape it. 


Near the climax of the game, Sunny’s dream world starts to deteriorate, all of the NPCs disappear, and the forested landscape becomes dead and vacant. The decaying of Sunny’s dream world shows his slow acceptance of what he’s done, his mental walls being broken down due to his inability to deny what he had done. To continue the game, the player must jump into a deep dark pit which results in Sunny ending up in an area called “Black space.” Black space is a representation of Sunny’s true emotions that he had blocked out for so long, he cycles through many doors, seemingly “unlocking” different emotions he had repressed for so long. 


During the final battle of the game, Sunny faces off against his alter-ego Omori, the whole ordeal is one huge symbolic internal struggle of Sunny facing the truth. Throughout the battle Omori constantly insults Sunny, representing Sunny’s internalized self hatred, Omori say’s things such as “They’ll hate you as much as you hate yourself” and “You’re useless… Less than useless. You’re sick.” as well as “All you do is make things worse. It would be better to just die.” All this time it’s just Sunny’s battle with his own thoughts.


Although there is much more symbolism to discuss, for the sake of this article’s length, I would like to move on to the different aspects of coping shown in Omori. As we know, Sunny’s friends Aubrey, Basil, Kel and Hero were all under the impression that Mari had committed suicide. The interesting aspect of it is that they all coped in different ways, which inevitably resulted in the fallout of the group. Hero, being the oldest of the group, had decided to focus on his college career and block out what happened by immersing himself in his work. Kel decided to make some friends and pick up basketball as a hobby to distract himself. It is still unknown how Basil coped with the incident, but the main person I would like to focus on is Aubrey. Aubrey’s method of coping was to seek comfort from other people, but because everyone was off indulging in their own methods of coping, she was left alone. Aubrey assumed that everyone had chosen to forget Mari and everything that happened, her dejection soon developed into anger. She started getting mixed up with the wrong people and developed a violent and defensive personality, she had grown to hate everyone because from her point of view, they all left her behind.


When I had played Omori for myself, I had hated Aubrey because of her behavior and hostility towards the main group, but after seeing what her home life was like and how she wasn’t given the support she needed, it made me realize that her character went way deeper than just a “bully.” This game showed me how quickly your assumptions of someone can change just by knowing what made them the way they are, which is something I feel a lot more people should be exposed to. Omori showcasing the fact that coping with trauma can come in multiple different forms is part of what makes it so unique. Oftentimes in media, we are only shown one example of coping, but Omori not only shows variety, but also the unfortunate outcomes of those who aren’t provided help when they so desperately need it.


To put simply, Omori is an absolutely brilliant work of art, the storytelling is beyond incredible and is unlike anything I have ever experienced. The deep dive that is mental illness has never been portrayed so perfectly and extensively in a game before, and Omori encapsulates it in a way that is easy for almost anyone to understand. I highly encourage anyone who appreciates good storytelling and representation of mental illness to play Omori, for it is an emotional journey in itself.