A debut title and an indie gem in one, OMNO from StudioInkyfox is a third-person, atmospheric exploration game that offers smooth traversal and rich natural environments.
Through five unique biomes players will enjoy minimalist puzzles, unique creatures and phenomenal landscapes that each reinforce a sense of ease and comfort from start to end. Small moments of dialogue and sparse collectibles refer to the vague plot, pushing the player to follow the path of an ancient pilgrimage to join their people. While the plot may provide the cardinal direction to aim your character, OMNO is well and truly about the journey, not the destination.
As the world opens before you, leading from swamps and deserts to far off mountain peaks, creatures both great and small will cross your path for company, aid and fun. Highly imaginative designs hybridise known animals to create a bestiary that wouldn’t be out of place in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Far too much fun was had in creating appropriate names for the various creatures, with my personal favourite being “Toordle” for the turtle creature….
Linking each of the main exploration levels are short traversal sequences that fall under three categories. The first will serve to introduce you to new powers that greatly increases your ability to move across the land. The second will wisp you across the sky as stardust or and, most importantly, the third allows you to ride on the back of monolithic creatures to enjoy the serene environments from afar. These sequences take control from the player and allow moments of respite between exploration and puzzle solving.
Abilities begin and end simple, but reward greater mobility and convenience as the world grows around you. You start with only the ability to jump but soon come to dash, surf, glide and teleport around the rich environments all while never losing momentum. Each of the abilities have phenomenal audio and visual feedback create a sense of power even while existing peacefully in the level spaces. Perhaps the greatest ability feature is how certain creatures will react differently to your powers, even following you across the map if they think what your doing is fun enough!
Available on PC, PS4 and Xbox, the lush low-poly game-design blends easily with the orchestral score and smooth traversable abilities to create an experience that soothes the player without boring them. Despite stunning visuals, my playthrough on the Xbox Series X stuttered infrequently, dropping in and out of 60fps at odd moments. While worthy of remark this visual drop in no way hindered my joy in playing OMNO and with the amount of positive feedback the game has received I’m sure there will be optimization patches very soon.
OMNO is the well-deserved result of a five-year development cycle by solo developer, Jonas Manke with the stellar score coming from Benedict Nichols (The Falconeer, Before We Leave, and Dead Frontier 2). Feeling like a true companion title to games such as Journey or ABZU, the playtime is only 3-4 hours long with an additional time-trial mode offered to keep players active. Personally, I couldn’t think of a worse way to experience OMNO than to rush through it, far better to load up your favourite level and chill with the snow otters or mushroom people.
Much like Animal Crossing: New Horizons during the first wave of this woeful pandemic, OMNO offers a serene experience that helps escape the confines of isolation and social restrictions. While this magical journey could be enjoyed at anytime, I strongly recommend OMNO as a small dose of virtual, natural wonder to ease the days ahead.