Wed. Jun 12th, 2024
Omno Cover Image

I’ve been excited for Omno ever since I first saw it in a Tiktok video months ago. (Yes, I use Tiktok, don’t judge me, it was a long pandemic). Since then, I’ve been avidly following the game’s development, and was thrilled when I saw that it was coming to Xbox Game Pass. I knew straight away I had to write an Omno review for Xbox One.

I must admit, my expectations for this game were high, and so there was a good chance for me to be disappointed. However, despite how much I’d hyped it up in my head, Omno lived up to my expectations, and even exceeded them. It was such a beautiful, fun, and moving experience. I don’t need to play an entire game for a review, and realistically I could have had enough content after 1-2 hours. But I didn’t want to stop! I played through the whole thing, getting every achievement along the way, and I was sad when it was all over. This is a game that’ll captivate you from start to finish with its charming playstyle and delightful escapism. It just makes you feel so good!

How could you not be hooked by that trailer?

Story

This is a spoiler-free review, so I won’t reveal too much about the story, as part of the wonder of the game is discovering more as you go along. The way that lore is revealed is really clever. There are glyphs hidden throughout the levels, and you find them by exploring the world around you. These lore notes give you insight into the world, and everything that came before. We learn why we’re on this journey, and get an idea of what we might find at the end.

I loved finding the lore notes hidden throughout the world.

Our character is a Staffbearer, and they’re the ones who were entrusted with leading the way for the others. The notes are left behind by someone who has already gone on the journey we’re taken, and so at each stage, we find out what’s coming next. The story has a big focus on the appeal of light, and it feels like an allegory for hope, and growth.

Omno Review Xbox One, Light particles
We travel between levels in the form of light.

Because you don’t actually need to find all the items in a level in order to progress, there’s no guarantee of finding all the lore unless you look for it. Theoretically you could complete the game knowing nothing except that of our own character’s journey, which we see in cutscenes at the start of each chapter. I like that finding the lore feels like a reward for exploration.

The ending cutscene when you beat the game is really poignant, I wasn’t expecting it. As well as being a tale of adventure, and escape, it’s also a tale of friendship. We’re accompanied on our journey by our pet, and the bond between the two of us is really sweet.

Omno friendship
I loved watching these two bond during the cutscenes.

Gameplay

At its core, Omno is a puzzle-platformer adventure game, and combines elements of all those genres. The result is gameplay that feels familiar, but also does something new. Whilst I could certainly name other titles with similar mechanics to parts of Omno, I couldn’t tell you any game that’s exactly like it. It doesn’t feel like a rip-off of other games, it feels like a new and unique experience.

First things first – movement. Seeing as moving is the one thing you’re guaranteed to do all game, it’s crucial for any adventure game to get this right, and thankfully Omno does. The controls are smooth and responsive, and the character moves how you’d expect him to. My only slight gripe with movement is that if you attempt to jump before you’ve completed the move animation (it only takes a fraction of a second, but sometimes that’s enough), you won’t be able to, and you’ll miss your opportunity. I like to jump right at the edge of platforms to get the most distance, and sometimes I found myself falling off despite pressing the key at the right time, as the movement animation hadn’t completed. However, other than this, it felt really natural.

Platforming across blocks.
There were plenty of platforms to jump across.

The exploration element really immersed you in the game. I loved that there was so much to discover, as I had worried that it might be a little empty due to the lack of enemies and collectible currency. However, throughout the worlds there were new creatures to find and add to your journal, which motivated you to explore everywhere. There were also orbs and glyphs in each level, which are necessary for completion.

Progression

The game is told in chapters, with each one having a different story beat. Within each chapter were multiple levels, which you could explore to find new glyphs and creatures. You also needed to find orbs, which were necessary for progression. These orbs would be scattered throughout the level, and you needed to get at least 3 in each level to unlock the final puzzle which would allow you to move on. Some of them could be found relatively easily, others required complex platforming. There were also some that were guarded by puzzles that you needed to solve, or that required the unique abilities you learn.

Omno Review Xbox One, Collecting orbs.
You can use your collected energy to free the orb.

I really liked the balance with the orbs, as it can be quite frustrating to get stuck on a single orb, and I would have hated for each one to feel that challenging. Instead, there was a good ratio, and I could find an easy one after a tricky one, or vice versa. There are checkpoints spread throughout each level, so if you die or fall off the edge, you respawn there with your progress intact. You have unlimited lives, which is great, as this is an adventure game rather than an action one.

Once you get your third orb, there’s a brief cutscene that will show a puzzle being activated. This is the final puzzle, and solving it will unlock the route to the next level. These puzzles were of varying lengths and difficulties, and tested your skills. The earlier levels were pretty easy to solve, but later ones took a lot more time, and had multiple facets to them. After solving the final puzzle, you either travel to the next level via a legendary beast, or by reforming yourself into particles of light.

Riding a legendary beast.
Riding the legendary beasts felt so magical.

Abilities

One really cool thing about Omno is that you unlock new abilities as the game goes on. You start off just being able to move, jump, and interact with various creatures and puzzles. However, as you enter new chapters, you learn new abilities to help you traverse the world. Dash allows you to cover more distance in mid-air, or move along the ground more quickly. Dash simultaneously improves your platforming range, and makes it more challenging as you’re expected to make more difficult jumps.

The next ability you learn is surf, and that’s my absolute favourite. It’s such a freeing experience, and I was filled with joy when I first discovered it. There’s something truly mesmerising about speeding down a hill surrounded by gorgeous scenery. The controls are immaculate, and it’s incredibly responsive. It’s also realistic, as you slow down when moving uphill. The speed going downhill is brilliant, it feels fast and exciting, but you still feel in control.

Omno Review Xbox One, Surfing
It was so thrilling to surf past the gorgeous scenery.

Teleport is convenient, as the levels get larger as you go on, so it allows you to quickly move between sections. It also results in a lot of speed-based puzzles, which are a fun change of pace. There were a couple of minor issues with this particular ability, so I’ll get into that later.

Finally, we learned float, which was a really peaceful technique. If you were falling, you could activate the float ability, and gently sway towards the ground, allowing you to cover more distance, and reach areas that were previously impossible. This was an enjoyable ability to use, unless you were trying to float around corners. Whilst there were no issues with going straight, changing direction was very finicky, and the movement did not react the way you’d want or expect.

Using abilities to explore the levels.
You needed all your abilities to explore the vast levels.

Puzzles

Aside from the joys of exploration, my favourite thing in Omno was solving the many puzzles found throughout the world. They were just the right level of challenging, so they didn’t feel too easy or too frustrating. You also get a rush of dopamine when you figure out the solution. I like that feeling of pride, and you get it a lot throughout the game.

As the story revolves around light, a lot of puzzles do too. They may involve transporting light between areas, or activating lights in the correct order. Some of them tested your platforming skills, and you’d have to push blocks into the right position to facilitate your movement. You could also collect light energy from creatures in the world, which was used to power up special monuments.

Omno Review Xbox One, Completion
Solve all puzzles and find all items in order to complete an area.

As you progress through the game and learn more abilities, the puzzles become more multi-faceted. You have to combine skills to reach new areas, meaning you have to think fast. I found myself needing multiple attempts at certain puzzles, as I got a feel for what worked and what didn’t. You never really needed surf for puzzles, other than to provide extra speed. But dash and teleport were a must, and float was needed for some of the platforming sections.

I really liked the range, as none of them felt repetitive, and they all required different skills. I think there’s a level of challenge for experienced gamers, whilst still being accessible to casual gamers. You needed to think outside the box a bit, and that just helped with the immersion. The whole game really does feel like an escape from reality.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zT-thgC-BXw
This puzzle took me longer to solve than I care to admit!

Graphics and Audio

This game is stunning! I’m talking, jaw-droppingly, awe-inspiringly, mesmerizingly beautiful. The assets use a low-poly art style, but it never looks cheap or lazy. The colours and shapes used are so deliberate and gorgeous, so it looks very high quality. You can tell how much love was put into Omno. I adore how each level of the game has its own theme and personality, and it’s so clever how the areas transition into each other. The beauty of the game really made me go “wow”.

Omno Xbox One Review, Beautiful scenery.
The colours and light are used so effectively.

Some of the creatures are a bit basic, but honestly, I don’t mind at all. It worked for the game, and they still looked cute. Other creatures had a lot more detail, especially in the later levels. They all had distinct features, and they had fun names which made me smile. A lot of them were based on real animals, and it was cool seeing the similarities.

The music throughout the game was fantastic, it’s such a wonderful soundtrack. It uses full on choral compositions, and it envelops you in the world of Omno. The music felt peaceful and magical, and encouraged emotions to rise to the surface. It paired perfectly with the colourful graphics, creating a powerful overall experience.

There were ambient sound effects throughout the game too, which added to the realism. It’s a fantasy world, but you really believed you were there. You could hear the freglets croaking, or the waccalumps chirping. You could hear the wind rushing around you, or the water babbling. Nothing was overlooked, the sound and visuals always matched what you’d expect to see and hear.

Omno legendary beast, stag dragon.
This was my favourite of all the creatures, it’s so pretty!

The Not So Good Stuff

Much as I loved this game, I’d be lying if I said it was perfect. The whole thing was made by one developer, which is an incredible achievement. However, it does also mean that a couple of minor glitches fell under the radar.

In the first few levels, there was an issue with lag if you pressed the Home button (which I did a lot to take screenshots), causing the frame rate to reduce, and the music to cut out for a few seconds. The game would also sometimes lag when using the teleport function. This wasn’t ideal as some puzzles relied on speedy manoeuvres, and although I don’t think the lag contributed to the time, it did mean that you couldn’t react as quickly coming out of the teleport, and sometimes you’d miss your opportunity to reach the next area as the lag wouldn’t register your button presses.

Omno Review Xbox One, Caclutulus
This isn’t really relevant to this section, I just wanted to share a picture of Caclutulus.

There were also occasional instances of physical boundaries not matching visual ones, so you would clip through objects. At one point I ended up stuck inside an object after teleporting to it, unable to move, but luckily I was able to dash out.

However, the biggest problem with Omno comes after you’ve played it. If you wanted to play through the game first, and then go back to levels to get any items you’d missed, tough luck. You can’t travel to previous chapters without completely overwriting your save. This means if you were one item away from completion, you’d need to play the entire game again and do it all in one run. You also can’t travel to specific levels, so if you missed an achievement, you’d have to play from the start of the chapter, and beat the previous levels to get to where you wanted.

Glitch, stuck inside an item.
Help, I’m trapped and I can’t get out!

Overall

I have to say, Omno is one of my favourite indie gaming experiences ever. Considering that the majority of games I play are indies, that’s high praise. I absolutely loved losing myself in the imaginative world that Jonas Manke created, and I know that it will stay with me for a long time. The story, gameplay, visuals, and sounds were all phenomenal. Seriously, I can’t recommend this game enough. If you like indie games, come join the discussion over in our Facebook community!

Omno

£14.99
8.8

Verdict

8.8/10

Pros

  • It's a joy to play, and really immerses you in the game
  • The graphics and soundtrack are gorgeous
  • The puzzles provide the perfect level of challenge
  • The ability mechanics are clever and unique

Cons

  • A few minor glitches
  • The controls for some of the abilities are a little finicky
  • You can't travel back to earlier levels without erasing your progress

By Screen Hype

Hi! I'm Melika Jeddi, a content writer and aspiring author. I've created Screen Hype to share my unique brand of entertaining articles with the world, and to create a fun space that everyone can feel a part of :)