Omno, a puzzle-adventure game, shows that the independent scene is full of developers with heart, passion, and a willingness to explore. Omno is the brainchild of one man, Jonas Manke, who started the project as a side project five years ago and has been working on it alone ever since. There’s no need to read press releases or browse Steam’s catalog; just download the game and start playing. Until now, there has not been a better game to try this out on.
Omno’s exploration, observation, and learning themes are so pervasive that the game almost appears tailor-made for them. When the game begins, you take control of a character in a foreign land.
In the process of learning about the area’s wildlife, your journal grows and expands, giving you a better understanding of the larger picture. The game depends on interactions to communicate gameplay. Goals instead of utilizing words or speech outside of the diary. I spent a lot of time reading the journal entries and analyzing the cutscenes for every action and reaction.
Despite my lack of preparation, I had an emotional experience that lasted the rest of the day. The majority of the game’s action takes place as you travel around the vast world, solving puzzles to gain access to new areas. The map’s puzzles and platforming can be tricky at first, but a blast; you learn how to read the environment and use your skills. Progressing through the game unlocks new skills like instant teleportation and an amusing ability to use your staff as a surfboard and float over the terrain.
Because the game is so short, there are not a lot of new abilities to master. The entire Omno experience took me about three hours from beginning to end, but the time varies from player to player. The issue was that the gameplay and riddles didn’t differ much as the game proceeded since the goals were essentially identical. You will run the loop faster and faster with practice, making it easier to keep track of your progress. Although Omno was only a few minutes long, the way it unfolded became quite repetitive.
It’s a lot like Banjo & Kazooie’s core gameplay in that you explore maps, collect items, and use those items on the platform as you learn new skills. The only difference is that there are not as many collectibles to be found in this game. Omno, on the other hand, comes to life when Jonas Manke adds his artistic stamp. It’s as if everything you collect or species you note in the journal has significance and weight to it. In the past, when I played a game developed by a single person, it felt like a flaw.
However, Omno feels so well-crafted that I was stunned when the credits rolled and only saw one developer. The game aesthetic is simple but striking, and it’s a pleasure to play. That one man was able to create such a touching game on his own as a side project astounded me. Discovering new places and creatures, as well as relics from the past, is a fulfilling experience.
Omno’s gameplay is fluid and crisp, and the game’s gradual gameplay changes are enjoyable to experience firsthand. Even in a short title like this, the nature of the puzzles and the objectives you must achieve to “beat” the game never really progress or change significantly. Omno, on the other hand, has a soul and a knack for creating an environment in which it’s pleasurable to be.