OmniBus Drives Into Our Hearts and Buildings
Between the silly marketing campaign and the gameplay of Omnibus, a seed of doubt was planted in my head. Were all the silly third party N64 and PSOne titles of my youth this ridiculous? Coming from an era where I didn’t have much disposable income, I’d maybe get one or two games a year, and I loved every single one of them no matter what. I wouldn’t say Omnibus is similar to games like Glover, Space Station Silicon Valley, or anything I had as a kid, but I will say that playing it reminded me of how committed I was to playing the life out of my games. Yes, the game is stupid. The stupid it gives off, though, has so much spirit it’s fun just to let loose and get caught up in the nonsense. Like any good B movie, Omnibus doesn’t wink at you through the chaos. What the game gives you it completely believes in, and that makes it much more Evil Dead than say, Snakes on a Plane.
In Omnibus, your gas pedal is taped to the floor and your brake lines are cut. All you get to do is turn and hang on until your objectives are complete. Right from the start the first thing I was tasked with was destroying ten or so caskets while avoiding the gigantic pinball bumpers. Everything in Omnibus is paper thin, so driving through a building is like running over a square of Parappa the Rapper characters. As much as this game thrives on humor, the levels are challenging. Overcoming the physics is the ultimate goal, and every time you bump and object or bumper The Bus will get thrown off the corner of the map.
Each map introduces a new mechanic or some sort of variation, so at least it was like opening a prize every time I entered a new level. New buses are introduced, so you’ll drive everything from a double-decker bus full of tourists to throw or even a gravity driven bus on the moon. There are double length buses to wrap around objects, and even a gigantic bus you’ll have to pogo through and destroy. For a game that works with so little they weren’t messing around.
There really isn’t much to the game. Each level is some variation of “Hey, Omnibus, don’t fly off the map.” You’ll skydive (with a bus), plant corn (with a bus), go to the moon! (with a bus), and much more (also with a bus). I was impressed with every new level and challenge. Sometimes it gets a little challenging for its own good. I’m the type of player who doesn’t want to skip a level until I’ve finished it, and it wasn’t until I got stuck replaying levels I finished in order to get better scores where I found myself getting over it and moving forward. There are hats to collect and other secrets, too, so if you want to step it up even more and play the same level a hundred times the option is there. The game feels like luck a lot of the time but I didn’t pay a ton of mind to that when I was busy over cars or jumping through buildings.
There’s a local multiplayer option, even allowing the use of a single keyboard. The only mode I had unlocked was the Sky Joust, which pretty much explains itself. Drive into one another until one bus is left driving. Not much to it, but it’s certainly entertaining for a while.
At times the game did start to feel a bit frustrating or boring, but I guess my brain has a limit as to how much “cancelled 3DO and Atari Jaguar” I can take. I have a lot more good than bad to take from Omnibus however, considering what it has to work with. The nice thing about Omnibus is Buddy Cops seem to actually care about their game. The trailers and presentation may make it look like a bunch of slackers telling a joke to their coding class, but Omnibus ended being a fun little chaotic driving game full of the right amount of nonsense. It brought me back to a strange place in my own gaming history, but the fact that it made me feel anything says a lot about a barely controllable bus taking a rocket ship to the moon.
Final Verdict. 3.5/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed); Publisher: Devolver Digital; Developer: Buddy Cops; Release Date: 5/26/2016; MSRP: $9.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy , provided by the game’s publisher, Devolver Digital.