In search of something different on a Sunday afternoon, I stumbled across Omno. This chilled-out adventure game sends you on a pilgrimage across peaceful and serene lands. Your character is literally following the light, reading excerpts from those who have trod this path before him, on a quest to a new world. 

I will admit, when I first started up this game, I wasn’t keen. I generally prefer more action or horror-orientated games, so I questioned whether I’d taken too big a divergence from my usual preferences. This game almost seemed a bit too cute and childish for me, like it was aimed purely at a much younger audience. The various creatures reminded me of Pokémon or something you’d see in Viva Piñata, and I wasn’t really sure what kind of story there was. It starts out just exploring different areas to unlock the next, and I found the first part of the game felt a little slow as there wasn’t really anything that piqued my interest. As I spent longer in this world however, it started to hook me, with its beautifully lit landscapes and a myriad of adorable creatures to discover. I began to wonder what lay at the end of this pilgrimage, and what new landscapes and creatures I would find along the way.

Everybody was surfin, surfin Jakku waves

There’s no voiceovers, no cutscenes, no combat and no sense of urgency whatsoever. It’s purely about exploration and letting yourself go on the journey Omno takes you. To move through each section you’ll need to collect three orbs of light, out of a choice of about five. If you wanted, you could blitz through the game in a couple of hours by collecting the minimum number of orbs, solving the final puzzle, and just progressing to the next area. I would recommend taking the time to explore each area thoroughly though, reading about the previous pilgrims, and letting those landscapes wash over you. The game also has its own version of synchronization points, which you can find by bringing up the local map using your staff. Meditate for a few seconds at one of these points, and the location of all the orbs will be revealed.

Glowsticks are a lot stronger nowadays

There’s a bit of platforming and some relatively simple puzzles to solve, most of which didn’t really give me any trouble but do increase in difficulty as the game expands into this mystical world. Given the mellow vibe of the game, I don’t feel like it was meant to be too taxing, especially if you’re playing this on a weekend afternoon like I was. I was genuinely stumped a couple of times, especially when it came to collecting some of the orbs. I did bypass some by just collecting others then moving onto the next area. The puzzles add some variety to keep players engaged, which sure did work on me as a fan of puzzle games. What also kept me engaged was reading about those who went on the pilgrimage before me: the only bit of storytelling we really get, along with my desire to catalogue every single creature throughout the game. My favourite of which was one that resembled a flying fox.

You’ll also unlock more abilities as you get further into your journey, which is another element that kept me engaged. To start off with you won’t really have any abilities, other than being able to absorb energy from living creatures with your staff, harmlessly of course, but eventually you can dash and glide which became integral to the puzzles in the changing landscapes. In terms of animation, my personal favourite was the teleport ability. As I started to unlock more abilities, I knew I’d end up playing through this whole game in one sitting, which is exactly what happened.

I shall call him Squishie

While the graphics are simplistic in their nature, the overall aesthetic of the game is a joy to look at. The lighting and vibrant colours really carry the game, along with the variety of design for each area. The design of the animals was also a highlight, with an obvious amount of care and attention going into their design. Finally, the technical pinnacle of this game for me, was the music. Written by award-winning UK composer Benedict Nichols, its spiritual undertones perfectly sets the mood that this is an experience to relax to. 

As I got further into the game I found myself wondering why people went on this pilgrimage to a new world in the first place. Omno isn’t exactly set in a barren wasteland straight out of Fallout, it’s more reminiscent of the world of the Ori games. I even had my own companion, something that appears to be a green flying squirrel, who was with me for the whole journey. By the time I reached the end of the game I was really starting to care about the connection between these two, and was braced for a tragic end, some kind of twist to pull the rug from under me. Without spoiling the end though, there is a fitting conclusion, that won’t leave you feeling dissatisfied. From start to finish, Omno is a relaxed and chilled out Sunday afternoon personified.

Coming back to why I decided to play this game. Omno demonstrates the true value of a service like GamePass. It puts games right in front of you that you wouldn’t really consider playing. Instead of the higher profile releases, it is easy to discover games such as this, which was made by German solo developer, Jonas Manke, otherwise known as StudioInkyFox. Prior to releasing his debut game, he gained experience as a freelance animator for ten years, working on a number of games and movies including the State of Decay series.

Verdict

It says a lot that given my initial impressions, I spent my entire Sunday afternoon playing this game. The spirituality and charm just sucked me in, and I’ve always had a soft-spot for any kind of puzzle games. This game was a perfect change from my usual style, and if anyone out there reading has GamePass, give it a try regardless of your usual preferences. Omno is also available on all platforms and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a puzzle platform game, with mellow vibes.

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