Omno review

By Heidi Nicholas,
One of the first things you’ll feel with Omno is a sense of wonder. There’s no prologue, no explanation; you just wake up and step out into the mysterious unknown. Within a few moments, Omno has set up a sense of being packed full of potential for exploration, and you truly feel as though you’re setting off on a grand adventure, magical staff in hand.


One of Omno’s greatest strengths is its hauntingly beautiful soundtrack. It’s a little reminiscent of Ori and the Blind Forest, and the soaring music each time you’re shown a sweeping vista of a new magical land adds to that sense of wonder. Omno is also reminiscent of Ori in the way it builds a connection between you and the world you’re exploring, even without dialogue. There’s a little of Journey in Omno’s DNA, too, in the sheer sense of adventure, as well as the beautiful simplicity of its art design and the scarcity of those story beats. Omno excels in its own right, however, with the variety of bizarre creatures you’ll encounter as you explore, and the task of finding and cataloguing each is an attraction which keeps you invested in that exploration. There’s no combat, no HUD to clutter the screen; the only thing you need to focus on is solving the puzzles in each area, and another of Omno’s successes is the peaceful nature of this gameplay. It’s a journey to savour, not a race to be rushed, and the only urgency you’ll feel to solve them comes from the gradually-building desire to know what happened to the travellers who came before you.

omno review

Those lands you’re exploring can feel a little empty at times, despite the flocks of wondrous creatures roaming through them, but Omno manages to stave off most staleness with the gradual introduction of new traversal techniques — my favourite is the one which lets you surf on your magical staff, zooming away over snowy hills and sand dunes. The movement feels smooth and fluid, and the combination of the ease of surfing and the swelling music in the background serves to give Omno some truly memorable moments. I also enjoyed how Omno rewards your efforts at puzzle solving. Several times I tried things that I doubted would work only to find that they actually did, and the same was occasionally true of exploration — for example, unlocking an achievement just for deciding to surf happily alongside some of Omno's strange, bounding creatures.

omno review

The relationship between your character and the light is a fundamental part of Omno and hinges on your character’s magical staff. One way in which this relationship is translated lies in how you use the staff to gather small crystals of light from the land and animals around you. Every animal sheds those light crystals in different ways, and discovering how each creature moves and reacts to your presence leads to some wonderfully enjoyable moments. The puzzles themselves each felt like a natural progression of the last, and although the way you move through the game’s stages can begin to feel a little repetitive, the integration of your staff and your new traversal abilities is done beautifully well.

omno review

The achievements themselves unlock naturally as you progress through the story, although some — such as the Likeminded achievement, which asks you to surf with Scipuins for 30 seconds — will require a little more exploration. The staff again comes into use as it provides a handy map of whichever area you're in, although a chapter select option does crop up after you’ve finished the story, so you don’t need to worry too much about completing each area unless you’re going straight for The Ascendant achievement, which asks you to finish Omno with all areas completed.

Summary

All in all, Omno is a wonderful addition to the platform, puzzle, and adventure genres, even if it doesn’t go so far as to completely reinvent them. If you’ve been feeling a little cooped up over the last few years, you might find that Omno offers some much-needed escapism. It’s easy to get lost in Omno, and what you’ll find is a wonderful adventure into a mysterious world — made even better by the fact that it’s on Xbox Game Pass.
8 / 10
Omno
Ethics
Heidi spent four hours following the light, unlocking ten achievements in the process.
Heidi Nicholas
Written by Heidi Nicholas
Heidi graduated with an MA in English Literature, and now enjoys writing news, reviews, and features across TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies. When she’s not writing, Heidi is usually either looking for her next RPG, or trying to convince the rest of the team to hear about yet another delightfully wholesome game she has found.