Review – Omno
Omno from Jonas Manke has been on our radar for quite a while. In fact, it’s one of the games we featured in our Kickstarter Round-Up in October 2018. Not only did Manke manage to reach his goal, but he crushed it, thanks to the overwhelming support of so many backers. Obviously, many people saw the potential in Omno and now we have been rewarded by a mellow, creative, and memorable game.
On the surface, there’s not a whole lot of story in Omno. You play as an unnamed protagonist who is a staff bearer. As such, it is your duty to retrace your ancestor’s footsteps and discover the secrets of the civilization lost ages ago. That’s really about it as far as a driving force. There are no NPCs to talk to, so your journey is a solo one. However, there’s a lot more depth to Omno than you might think.
In terms of gameplay, Omno is a relaxing experience based around exploration, with light platforming and puzzle solving elements. It’s very much in the same vein as Journey, Abzu, or RiME. This isn’t a game that focuses on combat or some sort of world-threatening crisis. In Omno, the damage has already been done a very long time ago. Now you can take your time exploring the ruins of the lost civilization that came before your time.
There are five different main areas for you to explore, which are broken up into a couple different sections. Each section requires you to find three power globes to open up the next area, although there are a total of five per section you can collect. After obtaining the three power globes, a gateway to your next destination will activate. Once activated, you’ll have to complete a small trial in order to move onward. These are usually comprised of some sort of memory game using lights and pedestals, or an obstacle course of sorts where you will need to use all of the skills you’ve obtained thus far.
It would be a disservice to yourself and the game to only settle for collecting the three necessary power globes though. In addition to having five power globes to collect, there are also forty-one different animal species you can find and interact with. Being a staff bearer, you are one with nature and have an affinity for animals. No animals will harm you, and many of them will give you energy essence. This can then be used to solve puzzles, power up ancient machinery, and collect other power globes. Finding new creatures and seeing how they responded to my presence brought some of the most fun aspects of the game.
Then there’s the most important collectible: the information cubes. These cubes are scattered throughout each area and give snippets of the underlying story. These are not a requirement for advancing, so you’ll miss out on the deeper meaning of Omno if you skip them. They provide small windows into the past so our protagonist can understand what happened to the ancients who reigned so long ago. This is where the heart of the game truly lies, so ignoring them takes away the depth Omno has to offer.
Along the way you’ll gain new abilities that will help you on your journey. These include dashing, surfing, teleporting, and gliding. As you might expect, each level is designed to make use of your new found abilities in addition to those already learned. Most of the puzzles are pretty straightforward and offer a more casual experience, but there are a few that will make you pause and think about the solution. I appreciated that the puzzles weren’t overly complicated, as that would have detracted from the laid-back nature of the game. That being said, there is still some mild challenge to be had throughout Omno.
Visually, Omno is beautiful. I was really impressed by how much they were able to sell the grand scale of this world. At first you might think the basic and cartoony animations are lackluster, but once the world opens up and you can see the vistas in their full glory, it’ll take your breath away. The vastly different environments and creatures, combined with dramatic lighting effects made for some incredible scenic moments. The framerate was also stable throughout the whole game, which is something I always appreciate.
The sound design is also well done. The world feels alive from all of the ambient sounds and noises from the various creatures. The soundtrack is stellar, with an orchestral score that ranges from whimsical to melancholy. Each tune sets the stage for every area and its nature.
I really enjoyed my time with Omno. I didn’t realize at first that it was a purely combat-free adventure when I started it, but the mild disappointment I felt from that revelation quickly disappeared as I got lost within its world’s secrets. It’s a mellow time, full of discovery and wonder. Omno is all about the journey, and it’s certainly a journey worth taking.
While at first glance the visuals can seem underwhelming, the grand scale and diversity between areas is impressive. There are some dramatic lighting effects too.
Fun, laid-back exploration with light platforming and puzzles that aren’t overly challenging. There are some additional moves to unlock as well, such as dashing, gliding, teleporting, and surfing, which keeps the gameplay feeling fresh.
No voice acting, but the sound effects are well done, with convincing ambient sounds of the environments and various animals. The soundtrack is beautiful and sets the stage for each area.
Fun Factor: 8.0
The perfect game to get lost in if you’re looking for a mellow yet fully engaging experience. There’s lots to do and discover in this indie gem.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Omno is available now on PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.
Reviewed on Xbox Series X.
A copy of Omno was provided by the publisher.