Release Date: 07/29/2021
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Beautiful indie games are something that comes only once in a while. When you think about games like Journey, Limbo, Inside, Braid, Monument Valley, and Flower. These are memorable games that most core gamers know of and look up to when it comes to quality indie games, and what defines an indie game. Omno tries this but doesn’t quite reach that height for several reasons.
So, when it comes to these minimalistic indie games they usually try to tell a story with no voice acting through music and action of the protagonist. Games like Journey and Inside pulled this off amazingly well, and I even remember tearing up a bit with Journey despite no written or spoken dialog being present. Omno has some great music and tries to pull off the adventurous fast-paced snowboarding/gliding on linear pathways with epic music and opening up to a beautiful vista kind of like how Journey did, but it doesn’t quite work here. Once you land you get the camera ripped from you and your little guy walks up to the vista and the camera pans around. That detracts from the user’s perspective and takes away that epic experience. Diving into the open area without any cuts adds to the sense of exploration and discovery because now I don’t quite know where I landed, but if I get a camera cut it kind of ruins the surprise.
Most of what Omno consists of are repetitive puzzle-solving open areas that all play out exactly the same. There are white orbs you must collect to unlock the final puzzle to move on, but there are optional things you can do to get 100% in the area which isn’t hard. I was able to 100% the game on my first try without a walkthrough. You get an area map once you get to the waypoint and this shows where the orbs are. Each area has about five and one orb requires gathering white cubes from animals and plants around the area. Once you have enough this unlocks one of the five orbs. You then have a few books to find that have a dialog about another creature going on their pilgrimage. Some orbs require platforming puzzles or moving blocks or shuffling things around. It’s very easy and I found almost no challenge in these puzzles. You do unlock new abilities as time goes on such as teleporting to certain waypoints, surfing on your staff, and dashing.
There is a small sense of progression and each new area is beautiful and looks great. However, I felt like it was a chore by the tenth one because I knew exactly what was coming up. Find five orbs, gather the cubes for that one orb, find the books, solve at least three puzzles, etc. It became predictable and there is really no story or character development between this so the game relies on pretty graphics and whimsical music to keep you going. The platforming and controls work okay most of the time but I felt dashing was a bit hard to control and landing was a bit slippery. Many times I slid off a cliff or block just to start over again.
If the game was just a linear adventure traveling through these valleys I feel it would be a better and more memorable experience. Having a dozen levels that play out exactly the same for literally no reason is boring and a chore despite how pretty the game looks. Maybe four or five spread out between more eye candy would have been better for this type of game, but what’s here turns into a slog towards the end. I still recommend the game as it can be finished in less than four hours and it is charming to look at and explore, but just be prepared for repetitive level design and unchallenging puzzles. The story is pretty much nonexistent and there’s no type of character development even through actions. Omno (I think that’s his name?) has a flying axolotl type creature flying around with him and the creature is sick maybe? At the beginning of some levels he picks him up and the thing looks like it’s dying? I honestly don’t even know.