Warhammer: Dark Omen
Windows - 1998
Description of Warhammer: Dark Omen
Everything you need to know about Dark Omen is here: http://www.dark-omen.org/. You will find help to run the game on this site too.
Orcs in the Attic
A few years ago, a friend of mine took me to a house on the outskirts of town to get a taste of the Wonderful World of " Warhammer ", a nifty miniatures-based game system developed by an English company named Games Workshop. Our host led us into the kitchen, climbed a ladder on the wall next to the refrigerator, and promptly disappeared into a small hole in the ceiling. We followed him up into a dimly-lit space where dusty shelves were lined with leaden armies of the far-flung future, and a wooden door-sized battlefield braced itself for an imminent cataclysm of imaginary blood and bone.
As a newbie, I was given command of a small regiment of "Blood Marines" or some such thing, which were matter-of-factly obliterated the first time they poked their tiny heads out from behind a smallish spray-painted bush. Though I enjoyed miniatures as a kid and found the whole game system kind of appealing, I can remember thinking two things at the time: "I'm not sure how seriously I can take this whole 'Orcs in Space' thing" and "Wouldn't some of these rules be better handled by a computer?"
Warhammer: Dark Omen is the fifth computer game I know of that takes on the somewhat formidable challenge involved in translating a Warhammer world to the PC. Three of these games (the most recent being the turn-based Final Liberation) are based on the Warhammer "40k" world I experienced that night in the attic - a world that blends in some of sci-fi themes one might expect to find in the year 40,000. Dark Omen is the second PC game from the original Warhammer world, and its battles are fought with fantasy armies that might be more at home in Tolkien's " Lord of the Rings ."
The Dead Shall Walk the Earth Once More
Dark Omen is the successor to Shadow of the Horned Rat, which made its way onto the gaming scene roughly during the time that a Pentium 90 was considered a pretty good system (see our SOTHR review from 1996). Shadow of the Horned Rat was an ambitious real-time tactical wargaming title, and at that time the ambition didn't entirely pay off. Though the premise and the game design were appealing and innovative, the interface was clunky and unintuitive and the game seemed to have an insatiable hunger for system resources. It was also incredibly tough and unforgiving, and I gave up after about ten battles.
After struggling with Shadow, I got the impression that the hardware du jour wasn't really sufficient to allow the development team to fulfill their vision of what the game was supposed to be. With Dark Omen, that hardware is here and the vision is back and looking better than ever. You read a lot of reviews these days that use the words "evolutionary" and "revolutionary" to describe new releases, and I'd have to say that that Dark Omen is still in the former category in relation to its predecessor. As "evolutionary" steps go, however, this one packs a wallop. We're not talking "woolly mammoth gets a haircut and decides to become an elephant" here - this evolutionary step has more to do with that momentous point in time when the first slimy amphibian got sick and tired of the whole gill thing and decided to slither up onto dry land and suck its oxygen out of the air rather than get it from the primordial soup in which it was born. In Dark Omen, the fantasy world of Warhammer has come into its own.
"I deal in gold coin for red blood . . . or green blood."
Dark Omen is primarily a real-time tactical game in which you direct an army of up to ten regiments that each comprise anywhere from one to twenty individual units or so. You control your army at the regimental level, so at the most you have to worry about giving orders to ten entities at any point in time. Like Myth: The Fallen Lords, it's a refreshing change of pace from most of the current crop of RTS games. There's no base-base building or unit manufacturing here - you are left entirely free to contemplate the subtleties of the slaughter. If you like Myth: Fallen Lords (and just for the record, I do), Dark Omen is about the closest you can get right now if you're looking for more.
The first thing I have to comment on here is the graphic presentation. If you want an excuse to make the leap to hardware acceleration or if you just made that leap and want to feel good about it, Dark Omen (like so many other games) is a fine place to start. I'm playing this game with a 21-inch monitor and a Monster Voodoo1 card, and it's a little hard for me to imagine that fantasy battlefields could look much better than this. The water effects in particular are incredible. (I'd tell you what the graphics looked like without the 3DFX card, but I just can't bring myself to turn it off.) There's a good variety of battlefields in terms of terrain types and terrain features, and you get to hover above it all with the same sort of glorious fully-rotatable camera control used to great effect in games like Myth and Syndicate Wars. I like the fact that the game gives you the chance to employ both the brilliant tactics of a Genghis Khan and the cinematic smarts of a Francis Ford Coppola.
The tactical module is pretty outstanding. Cavalry regiments will turn in formation and then charge into the vulnerable flanks of an unsuspecting enemy. Archers launch volleys of deadly arrows through the air, and the battlefield is filled with the sounds, explosions, and smoking shells of lethal cannon and mortar fire. Wizards are also available to conjure a variety of dangerous magics that can mow the enemy down or set them on fire and send them screaming into the hills. Height matters, line of sight is of extreme importance, and the dangers of friendly fire mean that you can definitely be your own worst enemy. Sometimes you will have a defensible position and sometimes you will be surrounded on all sides, but you will almost always be outnumbered. Get used to it.
Horned Rat's minimap is gone - the only view available other than the primary battle screen is a full-screen overhead view that appears and pauses the game when you hit the space bar. Unfortunately, you are unable to use this moment of peace to issue orders. You are also unable to adjust the game speed, so the game can be frenzied and frantic at times even though you are pretty much limited to ten units. Overall, however, the pace is somehow a bit slower and more manageable than it is in most current RTS releases. Perhaps because of this difference in pace and because you don't have to worry about constructing units, you really do get the sense that you are on a battlefield and that tactical awareness reigns supreme. Dark Omen "feels" a lot like Myth and the Close Combat games in this respect.
Between engagements, the story is moved along by the occasional cutscene and by conversations between on-screen "talking heads" that are pretty similar to the dialogues used in Starcraft's excellent campaigns. These same types of characters can also appear on-screen during battles to give you helpful updates. Lip movement isn't perfectly in synch with the speech, but the writing and the voice-acting are particularly well done. Your on-screen alter-ego is played by someone who actually sounds like a cocky mercenary commander rather than by someone who sounds like the lead programmer's kid brother. As with Starcraft, I felt "sucked in" by the story to a greater extent than I am with many contemporary strategy games where the scenes between missions often look and sound like obligatory and uninspired filler. At its best, Dark Omen manages to create a sense of drama both on and off the battlefield.
So what's not to like? Like Shadow of the Horned Rat, Dark Omen is a tough game. This challenge in and of itself is not a bad thing - at least you spend most of the time worrying about fighting the battles rather than fighting the interface for control of your units. What's still missing, though, is some sort of tangible sense of how well you are doing. It's a good thing to save after every battle - at one point I discovered I had dug myself into a hole after a series of mediocre victories and had to go back three battles and begin again. What I'd like to see here is an assessment of your victory after the fact - if you wipe the enemy off the battlefield but only have one man standing, the game should let you know that in effect you really did lose and that you need to try again. The game should rate your battle on some scale - "total victory" or "marginal victory" or "marginal defeat" or some such thing - so you can get a clear idea of what your standing is during the campaign. Maybe the game might let you continue after you destroyed the enemy but lost half your men in a "marginal defeat", but at least you'd know where you stood. As it is, you're left to figure out those criteria for yourself. I decided in my game that if I didn't lose any regiments and was able to afford to bring every regiment back up to full strength after the battle and still had 1000 gold left over, then I was doing fine. It's a darn good thing that reinforcements are always available as long as you have enough gold.
The game is also pretty linear. The small strategic elements that the game offers off the battlefield are definitely nice touches - it's fun to decide what armor to purchase and who gets to carry the newest magic sword, and it's interesting that you sometimes are allowed to make a decision like whether to stay and face the more immediate peril or to move on to the greater objective given to you by your employer. Even so, though, you will sometimes find yourself fighting the same battles three or four times in a row. The first time your wizard might be slain by a lucky shot from enemy artillery (restart), and the second time you might accidentally place your cannon (shallow arc) behind your cavalry instead of the mortar (high arc) and obliterate about 1600 gold pieces in the first barrage. I'd apologize for thinking of men in terms of money, but hey, I'm a mercenary and your average soldier of fortune makes more than minimum wage.
Then there's the somewhat tricky issue of the multiplayer mode. The multiplayer implementation of Dark Omen is pretty clean and solid, as far as I can tell. You can choose to battle any other player with a completely configurable army of humans, greenskins, or undead. I have to admit that it's really fun - the only problem is that I'm spoiled by the fantastic multiplayer gameplay of titles like Myth, which is so amazingly flexible that you can even play each battle of the "single-player" campaign co-operatively with any number of human players up to sixteen. Dark Omen is fun against another player, but it's a bit of a novelty since you can only play with one other person and since there are no configurable multiplayer game objectives like "King of the Hill" or "Steal the Bacon". It's strictly a "To the death!" sort of affair, and you can't even get a peek at the battlefield before you begin. Since multiplayer options are a bit limited and the game doesn't feature a scenario editor, the bulk of the gameplay lies in the lengthy single-player campaign.
Despite a few shortcomings, I find that Dark Omen has managed to re-capture the elusive "fun factor" that I felt was missing in Shadow of the Horned Rat. The combination of a re-vamped and streamlined interface with a powerful and smooth graphics engine makes Dark Omen a joy to play. If you enjoy the fantasy setting, don't mind real-time combat and are looking for a meaty single-player tactical challenge, Dark Omen is the game for you. With a few expanded multiplayer options, configurable difficulty settings, and perhaps a scenario editor, the next Warhammer game just may be perfect enough to convince even the most die-hard Warhammer fan to trade in his or her attic for a virtual battlefield every now and then.
Review By GamesDomain
How to play Warhammer: Dark Omen Windows
Recommended Setup (English only)
- Download the setup files and install in English
- Follow the very comprehensive guide is available on the Dark Omen forum: http://forum.dark-omen.org/help-section/read-me-ultimate-dark-omen-xpvistawin7win81win10-game-fixes-t111.0.html
Using the Disc Image or other language can leads to various diffculties. For those cases, you can find additional patches and resources on the old-games.ru page (in Russian, browse with Chrome and use Translate option).
Captures and Snapshots
Comments and reviews
norman 2023-12-30 0 point
Clicking on setup.exe comes up with error box: "specified path does not exist" no matter what I do. I am on Windows 11. I managed to get it running on 86box but that is a poor substitute imo. Any help would be great.
Wacko 2023-08-19 1 point
Weelll. It looks like this game does not work in Windows 10 anymore. I could not get the installer to run. I had to install it in 86Box with Win98 SE.
C-Goody564 2021-09-29 0 point
Warhammer: Mark of Chaos/Battlemarch are NOT abandonware; It is available for purchase on GOG under the name Warhammer: Mark of Chaos - Gold Edition. It will never be available on a legitimate abandonware or freeware site as long as that remains to be the case.
venir 2021-09-23 0 point
anyone know a site that has mark of chaos and battlemarch in working condition? or can get it to this site.
teucro75 2021-08-01 0 point
es un buen juego me encanto en play station one hace muchos años ya espero poder jugarlo de nuevo
uk_john 2021-02-19 -2 points
Always comes up with "Dark Omen cannot find CD Drive", I put the CD drive letter but it doesn't accept it.
KingLich 2021-01-28 0 point
This website is good for fixes : https://www.pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Warhammer:_Dark_Omen
ian78 2020-07-26 3 points
Hard to install but worth it. Unzip the .BIN and .CUE files. You then need to mount, if there is no option in Explorer then I used WinCDEmu. Select Setup (not autorun) and set compatibility to Windows 95, 640x480 resolution and run as administrator. Then follow steps 2-4 here http://forum.dark-omen.org/help-section/read-me-ultimate-dark-omen-xpvistawin7win81win10-game-fixes-t111.0.html.
tuyên bình 2020-05-07 1 point
sao tôi bị lỗi
down về, giải nén, mount vào F, chạy file exe thì bị lỗi Error Id
Crusoe 2017-03-21 6 points
This is an old imagen from CD probably recorded using an old version of NERO recorder so thats why u got a BIN and CUE files instead an ISO. U must use a CD soft burner compatible whit old style but be carefull, many of them such Ashampoo can translate BIN and Cue files and burn it normally but the result is a CDA (audio CD) instead of a Game Data CD. U must use an old CD burn version or try more than one until u got your game data correctly burned. I have used PowerISO.
After that , u must follow the help section instruccions from http://www.dark-omen.org/ and do several things before playing , specially on WIN 10.
A great game , hard to play .... hard to install xD.
DecayWolf 2017-03-13 0 point
Is this a demo? Does it require emulator?
Just started the download, guess I'll figure it out.
ballistic 2017-03-10 1 point
Downloads and unzips to .BIN file, refuses to mount on ISO, how can I change this?! Please help
Strobosaur 2016-12-30 2 points
I think the demo of this game and the demo of the first GTA are still the two games i have put the most hours into :D And since i never could afford both the game and a computer that could handle it until it had long since been buried by time and dust, im REALLY looking forward to replaying it! My memory anyway is that this is actually the best Warhammer game adaptation ever done, together with Dawn of War II... Dark, violent, mercilessly hard and unforgiving... Well written... Slow and brutal like good RTS-games should be like (and sometimes were before Blizzard started pissing upstream)... Just hope i'll get it to run this time, but things sound promising!
lalos 2016-10-18 -3 points
hey guys, running the game in windows 10 it gets frozen after the EA welcome screen. The audio starts but nothing else happens. I tried all the compatibility modes. Does anybody have a fix for this issue?
ArmouredLemming 2016-03-24 -1 point
''you wander around in a 3rd-person perspective.''
What gibberish is this?
Warhammer Dark omen is a Top Down perspective, RTS where you command regiments around a battlefield.
At no point is this game 3rd Person, yah daft bugger(s), the description is a load of old guff!
lebron Neya 2015-10-05 1 point
like men never knew dis exciting game still prevails to this tremendous day it is fun full
Hex 2015-06-28 -1 point Windows version
Yeah this one got me into gaming, it's like the first date...It will always have a special place in my heart.
Cokehead 2015-06-25 2 points Windows version
And it shall come to pass that the moons are united in darkness and the dead shall walk the earht once more..... I mean, whats not to like.
Lord Yazoo 2015-06-17 0 point Windows version
I still have my original ps1 copy of this game , still one of the best games I ever played.
Polat 2015-04-30 0 point Windows version
it flickers on my windows 8 but i have downloaded it else where..
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