Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch
July 28, 2021
The world of Omno is vast and visually stunning. As a protagonist with no voice or name, you will explore a beautiful world around you, discovering the history of those who came before you, and the connections between living beings and the Light. You have nothing moving you forward on your pilgrimage other than the staff in your hands and the promise of Light guiding your way.
It is a wonder to know that this atmospheric adventure was bought to life by one solo dev named Jonas Manke, or StudioInkyfox as they are also known. Omno’s goal as a game seems focused on exploration of the world and solving puzzles to advance to new areas. As the game begins you will find out that Omno does not rely on voicing any words to tell their story. Rather, along the way you may find some relics called “Glyphs” that are like small journal entries from your predecessors who have taken this pilgrimage before you. The name given to those like you are “Staff bearers”, but the rest of the information you gather you’ll have to put together yourself. Otherwise, you are left to your own devices on finding out who you are and what your goals are. Aside from a few control prompts, you will have to use your own deductive skills to find out the rest.
Because there are no clear instructions on what each key does, It takes some time to figure some things out. For example, if you hit the R key in a new area, it brings up a disk of light above you. It took some time for me to realise that it was a kind of map, leading you to new objectives in the area and telling you the percentage of the area you have completed. The symbols used aren’t immediately recognisable, but not so much so that you won’t figure it out eventually.
While you’re given no clear direction on what to do, the game is still pretty linear. While there are pretty views to look at while you wander along, there is not a lot for you to interact with until you reach your designated puzzle areas. This will at least help you from getting side tracked and lost along the way. Because unfortunately, the map mentioned previously is useless unless used in the puzzle areas you enter.
At first this “map” will show you one large marker in any given direction. This first marker leads you to a platform you can sit upon and meditate at. Doing this will open up the whole map to you, pointing out places where you can find light spheres and glyphs. I think this is a nice touch to the aesthetic of the game. It fits in with the mystical charm and the feeling of taking time to connect to the light and world around you. In terms of game mechanics, it’s just a bit of an unnecessary extra step.
The large focus of Omno is themed around “Light”. As you explore and discover new creatures and structures, you will find many mentions of this light and also discover particles of light you can collect. When you have collected enough of these particles, you will be able to activate monoliths that will eventually allow you to progress. It’s very forgiving in how much light you can collect, and also very entertaining with how exactly you can collect them.
Light particles are held by many different creatures and plants that you can interact with in different ways. It adds to the overall sweet and relaxing atmosphere of the game to be able to interact with these cute creatures. As you discover new ones, along with the previously mentioned Glyphs, they will be written down in your own journal. Everything you meet has a name, and honestly some of them sound like they’ve come right out of my own brain. We have cute little brown frog-like creatures called Freglets, Turtles called Toordles, plant-like creatures called Strubs and my favourite Snillpies, the cutest little snails with ear like antennae!
It’s encourages you to look out for these new creatures and Glyphsin in each area because it all adds up to your completion percentage. While it’s not necessary to have every area 100% explored to move on to the next area, It was very satisfying for my completionist brain to do so. There is also unfortunately no going back to other areas once you move forward. Because Omno is more of a short experience than anything else, it really doesn’t have replayability once you finish the game. Once you’re done, you’ll sit with that nice cozy feeling for a while, and then move on. So you might as well take an extra few minutes to go around and get those last few bits you missed before continuing on.
The creatures and their reactions are very fun to interact with, but what I enjoyed more was the puzzles themselves. Omno is very kind to warm you up first with the puzzle difficulties, starting off fairly easy and increasing in difficulty as you go along. To compliment this steady rise with the puzzles are the skills you learn at the same pace. Each area introduces some new ability you can do, from things like jump dashing to surfing on your staff. As you warm up to each skill, another is added that will aid you along your journey and especially with solving those puzzles.
Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on what experience you’ve come to Omno for) puzzle solving is the only time I felt engaged with some of the gameplay itself. It is of course a beautiful game with a lovely atmosphere, but there is not much else to it than that until late in the adventure. There was a moment in the early areas where I first gained the ability to surf along the snow to my next destination and I found myself wishing there were more moments like this where I could engage more in these big transitional scenes instead of being a backseat passenger on the scenic route.
In saying that, I believe Omno is more of an “experience” in itself than a highly engaging “game”. The puzzles were intricate enough to keep me satisfied, with its calming music and beautiful yet simple vistas encouraging me to let go of my stress and go with the flow for a few hours. It doesn’t ask much of you, just that you take the time to immerse yourself on a journey of light and discovery, and that is quite a lovely experience to have.
- A very calming journey to take
- Forgiving gameplay that warms you up to bigger puzzles
- Beautiful art style in simple designs
- At times, gameplay is not so engaging
- It is a one off experience with no real replayability
- You will take a backseat at times when going to new areas
Omno is an enjoyable and visually beautiful experience. While there are some elements of the gameplay that feel lacking and where you’ll feel like you’re taking a backseat, it accomplishes what it sets out to do with its relaxed approach to puzzles and exploration. It will give you an atmospheric adventure to immerse yourself in for a few hours, and maybe as a bonus, leave you with a nice warm fuzzy feeling. And sometimes, that’s just what you’re looking for.