Omno Review: Perfect For Game Pass
There are certain games that Game Pass really puts into a new context. Games which I might less enthusiastically recommend spending a lot of money on, but which are perfect for the service. Omno is a great example of this. It looks great, plays pretty well, and it’s a pleasant time from start to finish. It has some flaws and doesn’t do anything new, but it’s worth your time at the right price.
Without anything in the way of setup, you’re dropped into a magical land. Your character is on a pilgrimage into the light, searching for something. They’re accompanied by a magical staff and a floating animal companion. That’s about the extent of the story here. There’s no dialogue, what little bits of world-building we get are done through books and paintings you find in the environment. A sense of this pilgrimage and the many who have made it before are instilled, but this is a game that’s far more about the experience than about telling a deep story.
A Sense Of Wonder
That experience has you traveling from area to area with each step on your journey taking you to a different environment where you’ll pick up a new power. Icy mountains, lush forests, sweeping deserts, all of these are beautifully presented in a minimalist style which looks great. A beautiful soundtrack sets the mood of each area perfectly and helps elevate the sense of awe for each new environment. Omno falls into a similar category with games like Journey, or Arise: A Simple Story. It’s impressive that a game was able to be made in such a vein by a single developer. Omno was kickstarted by Jonas Manke, a first time developer who made the game on his own. His lack of experience never shows through.
Each area challenges you to locate at least three orbs which will open the way to the next area. You’ll be able to find more if you like, but three are needed to progress. How you do this can vary a great deal. There’s no combat in Omno. Everything is based on environmental puzzles. Some orbs require you to navigate a tricky bit of platforming. Others require you to gather enough of the light resource scattered around the area. Others make you interact with the animals living there.
Speaking of those animals, they go a long way to helping each of these environments come to life. Each area has its own set of creatures, each of which is documented in a journal you have available. They come in so many shapes and sizes and have such unique feelings behind them. I loved being able to interact with them to get resources or even, in some cases, to reach new areas. They’re one of the game’s highlights.
Keeping Things Fresh
Omno could easily grow stale by having you do the same thing in each area, but variety in the puzzles keeps it fresh, as do the new powers you unlock throughout the game. Before long you’ll be able to air dash, to use your magic staff to float, or even turn it into a flying surfboard. These moves feel excellent for the most part.
What doesn’t always feel great is the platforming. Most of the time your controls work fine, but I definitely ended up in a few areas where inconsistent controls and touchy interaction with objects in the environment caused needless frustration. The inconsistency made it so that in some cases I couldn’t even be sure if the issue was the game, or that I was doing the wrong thing. In too many cases, it was the game.
The puzzles themselves also have a few strange difficulty spikes. Most of the game hits a pretty consistent level of difficulty, with puzzles that make you think a bit, but which are pretty intuitive. A few, however, ratchet things up to the point where I don’t think the average player will be expecting them. One, in particular, stands out about halfway through the game. Worse, that one is required as it is part of moving between areas and not one of the optional orbs which you can pick and choose between.
A Satisfying Journey?
The ending of the game also doesn’t feel as satisfying as it could. While not necessarily bad, it attempts to tug on the heartstrings in a way which doesn’t feel earned. I ended up wondering why I was supposed to care about what I was seeing, beyond the surface level of it being vaguely cute.
Reaching that ending also doesn’t take long. You can complete Omno fairly easily in three to four hours if you don’t end up stuck anywhere for long. There’s some replay value in going back to complete puzzles you may not have the first time through, but each area warns you of your completion level before leaving and you can check it any time. This makes Omno a pretty easy game to complete the first time through if you care about that sort of thing. The platforming isn’t strong enough to provide much reason to just play around with it after that.
Omno will provide most players with three or four pleasant hours. Despite a few frustrating moments, I really enjoyed most of my time with it. For a short game though, which doesn’t do much new and which doesn’t quite reach the level of similar titles like Journey or Arise, that can make for an uneasy recommendation. That’s the joy of Game Pass, though. When considering what to spend your money on, a few pleasant hours may or may not be enough. For those who can play it for no extra cost however, that makes this an easy game to check out. Players on other platforms may need to think about whether this is the right title for them, but Game Pass subscribers should give Omno a chance. I think you’ll be happy you did so.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: Xbox One(reviewed), PS4, PC; Publisher: StudioInkyfox, Future Friends Games; Developer: StudioInkyfox; Players: 1; Released: July 29th, 2021; ESRB: E for Everyone; MSRP: $18.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a retail copy of Omno.