Omno follows in the footsteps of ethereal light platform adventures like Journey, Abzu, Gris and Rime by placing you in a world that you fall in love with. By giving you a journey towards enlightenment or understanding, through platforming and light puzzle solving, Omno is a one man development that should be one of indie gamings biggest successes in 2021.
You play a wanderer of sorts with a cute flying sidekick who follows your moves and offers some help with telling you where to jump to next if you get a bit stuck. There’s no dialogue but the world tells the story for you. You are moving upwards and through the world of Omno to ascend as a being and along the way you’ll be bringing the ancient civilisation back to life. Ruins are everywhere and need turning back on again with energy orbs. There are usually upwards of five per area and you need to find just three to move on. This isn’t a game you’ll want to rush through though as the fun is found from taking your time and enjoying the world of Omno as you pass through it.
Whilst part of that is down to some of the best lo-poly landscapes I’ve enjoyed in gaming to date, made even more heavenly with some amazing light effects and artistic direction, a large part of the enjoyment is discovering the wildlife. There are 42 creatures to discover and each one has a name and some kind of interaction. Those interactions either drop energy crystals to charge up a pillar to gain an energy orb or the animal performs something to help you traverse. They are all very cute and imaginative and some of them are just fun. My favourites were the ones that go belly skiing alongside you in packs but there are so many, big and small. It does a lot to convey the mystical side of the game.
Omno isn’t just a walking sim or explorer game though, there are plenty of genuine puzzles here. The game actively switches game mechanics constantly so puzzles never feel stagnant or repetitive. Instead, you go from pure jumping and dashing puzzles to light switch puzzles, code decryption, ski racing, teleportation speed runs and towards the end some hang gliding too. The puzzles are rarely ones that will stop you in your tracks but they do require some skill to pull off. Omno’s controls make this quite easy to enjoy too with auto climb from a ledge for example, making things simple. my only criticism of the game was that sometimes I would catch a ledge and then my character would just randomly let go. Puzzles are rarely very long so it was little progress lost but it did leave me scratching my head a few times. It’s also worth commending how new puzzles don’t forget previous game mechanics – they incorporate them into the mix of new puzzles. This means you build up skills, rather than learn things that only apply for one area.
Graphically and stylistically Omno is an ethereal dream. I love the art style, colour palettes and the fact that as worlds change, it’s not a copy/paste reskin of things. Everything feels new and fresh and other games should look to Omno as an example of how graphical styles change but don’t feel reskinned over the course of a game. Musically things are beautifully done too. A light operatic aura of voice and strings hazily permeate in the background and then gain momentum and power when you surf along the sands or ice on your staff. The end of level montages as you burst into lights and fly through the wind work superbly with a musical swell too. My heart felt full throughout.
Easily one of my favourite games of 2021, Omno is a perfect example of a solo dev knowing their vision and nailing their experience perfectly. Do not sleep on this dreamlike experience, you’ll remember it for a long time afterwards.
Review copy provided by publisher.
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