Ray of Light
Videogames are wonderful things for the emotions. Some are designed to excite with fast paced action, some to elicit a more nuanced emotional response through rich storytelling, and some exist to be a relaxing and calming experience for the player. Omno from developers Jonas Manke and Inkyfox falls firmly into that latter category, one populated by a wealth of other titles like Flower, Journey, Abzu and even last years The Gardens Between which was a firm favourite of mine.
These are all games which focus on atmosphere with light puzzling that invite the player to immerse themselves in fantasy worlds, traverse from A to B and allow themselves to be swept up the experience. Experience is certainly the word here as these games are all designed to be completed in short sessions, and Omno is certainly a great example of that with a main story that can be completed in under 2 hours.
The player takes the role of an unnamed humanoid on a pilgrimage across a strange land. The story is very light, conveyed through visuals and small written passages you uncover in each of the increasingly larger areas you explore. In each area you use your growing set of skills to solve puzzles involving collecting orbs of light; collect three orbs in any one area and you trigger a final puzzle which makes use of your skills in a larger fashion and – well, that’s Omno in a nutshell.
The loop is so simple but it’s the levels themselves that are the stars of the show here. Each area changes its biome, from lush jungles to grassy meadows, arid deserts and frosty tundra’s, Omno is as much a game about simply being IN these worlds than it is solving the puzzles. As the worlds grow in size, so does your ability to traverse them and what starts as a simple move set with a dash and a jump soon evolves into being able to surf across open space, teleport between points and even drift off high platforms.
It doesn’t hurt that the game is a good looker as well, evoking a visual style that for me recalled Ubisoft’s Grow Home games, but with a more fluid animation style and bolder geometry and colours. Each world is populated by a multitude of animals to discover and add to your growing encyclopaedia, each with quirky and fun names, and the sense of discovery is always around the bend. I played the PS4 version of the game on a PS5 and it ran at a solid 60FPS, however performance is likely to vary by platform, particularly on the Nintendo Switch. The game’s gorgeous visuals are accompanied by an equally gorgeous soundtrack by Benedict Nichols; a collection of sweeping, melancholic tunes that have already found a place on my videogame music playlist.
At around £15 on all platforms (although if you’re a GamePass member it’s currently available on Microsofts fantastically good value service) it’s a wonderfully quick game to pick up and play. The replayability is somewhat limited to returning to areas and picking up any orbs you may have missed to get 100% completion, but it’s such a lovely world that you won’t mind popping back to the snow covered mountains to surf down the powder, or stand on a tall rock and look out over the sun drenched meadows one more time.