Developed By: Studio Inkyfox
Published By: Studio Inkyfox
Category: Adventure, Platformer, Puzzle
Release Date: 12.16.21
Composers: Benedict Nichols
There are few things in gaming more satisfying than a game built around exploration that’s actually fun to explore. Studio Inkyfox, the one-man developer behind today’s game, Omno, understands this all too well. They’ve created an experience set in a visually simplistic but nonetheless stunning game world. It’s a chill, all-ages puzzle-platformer that focuses its energy on letting players traverse its beautiful game world at their own pace, offering plenty of opportunity for players to lose themselves in its finely crafted atmosphere.
Omno is the story of the last of the staffbearers, an ancient order searching for the source of The Light. The staffbearers had led their people away long ago, and our hero (I don’t know if he’s supposed to be Omno or not, the game never says) is retracing their steps to find the light, accompanied by a flying green squirrel who slowly warms up to him. That’s basically it in terms of story. You can find tablets and obelisks that chronicle the tale of the last staffbearers to attempt the journey. It’s a fine enough backstory and leads to a heartwarming ending, but it’s pretty threadbare as narratives go. Luckily, Omno is all about the journey – and it pretty much nails that.
If you just like to explore new worlds, Omno is the game for you. The controls and gameplay are fairly simple, to start – you can run, jump, and use your staff to activate mechanisms. Along the way, you’ll unlock the ability to dash forward, use your staff like a skateboard, pull yourself toward faraway targets, and glide through the air. You use these skills to make your way through platforming puzzles to collect enough orbs to move on to the next area. Each area contains more orbs than are strictly necessary to progress, and there are also the aforementioned backstory tablets to collect, making for plenty of side content if you just want to hang out and do some more exploring. Most importantly, the puzzles are clearly designed and the solutions are fairly easy to see but still require some skill to pull off. And that’s what makes them fun.
The controls are mostly intuitive and responsive, but there is one wart. You can pull yourself up ledges by jumping up to them or gliding/dashing towards them. The only issue with this, and with the game’s controls in general, is that grabbing a ledge is somewhat finicky. If you don’t hit the ledge exactly right you won’t grab it, and will instead fall back to the ground. It’s kind of annoying for this to happen in a multi-step puzzle, since it essentially sends you back to step one. The problem is especially pronounced when you’re jumping around a corner or a column or something, but it’s not an issue in every puzzle. And if you get too frustrated, it’s not essential to solve every puzzle as I’ve said. Still, it’s too important an element in a platformer not to be more polished than this.
The graphics aren’t the sharpest or most detailed you’ll ever encounter, but that doesn’t stop them from being absolutely breathtaking nonetheless. Omno combines a minimalist approach with a unique design sense to create a visually inviting and memorable world. The game knows how to use its camera to create a grand sense of scale beyond even the limits of its hefty explorable areas. Walking over a ridge to see a new area expand before you never fails to impress. The grandeur of the graphics is superbly complemented by the game’s majestic, sweeping soundtrack. The music always seems to swell to a crescendo every time you encounter one of the game’s many visual wonders. Whether encountering a massive, awe-inspiring creature or summiting a mountain, the music elicits and emphasizes all the right feelings at exactly the right times.
It’s hard to find anything to complain about with Omno. Aside from the aforementioned ledge issue, probably my biggest complaint is that it ends so quickly. I don’t know how long it would take for me to get tired of Omno, but I know I could have kept playing well beyond the five or so hours it took me to play through it. If only for the love of exploration or stunningly unique visuals, give Omno a try ASAP.
Digital/Physical – $15.99
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The Switch Effect was graciously supplied a code for review purposes.