There are some games that are hard to talk about in a review, because they go to great lengths to hide what they really are. From eversion to Doki Doki Literature Club, these titles are best experienced personally for their twists to have the greatest effect. Reviewing them is a struggle, but luckily Omegaland isn’t too hard to explain without dropping the great secret that lurks within. It’s a quality platformer, hearkening back to the golden age of such simple pleasures, and when it shows its hand the game only becomes deeper and more engrossing for it.
You are Pat, a running, jumping, helping soul residing in the picturesque Flower Kingdom. Princess Omega has been locked out of her castle, and it’s up to you to locate the keys scattered across the land. There are plenty of enemies to bop and pits to hop, along with coins to collect along the way, of course. Those coins aren’t just for score, either, as they can be used to buy new upgrades and powers to help you get around. You’ll find a fair number of residents more than happy to share little snippets of their lives with you, too. And let’s not forget a few collectibles scattered about in the form of tasty foodstuffs with auspicious names.
Omegaland is very clearly a send-up of the classic Mario titles, all the way down to breaking blocks for invincibility stars. Almost all of your foes can be stomped into submission, and beyond them are the ubiquitous spikes and bottomless pits to avoid. You start out only being able to take one hit but can upgrade your life to take more. The only twists the early levels will have are gates that require keys to pass, but aside from that you’ll be running, jumping, and collecting coins the same as you ever were. You also get a Super Mario World-style overworld to wander, complete with signposts to read but not much else to do, at least at first.
Once all the keys are found and Princess Omega has the run of her castle again, A Thing will happen and the game will shift into its second act. While the gameplay itself doesn’t fundamentally change the depth of it does, with more to accomplish while you’re out and about and more to do with your hard-earned coins. The tone is also going to take a major shift, not into full horror like you’re probably expecting but something far more interesting and meaningful. You’ll spend the bulk of your time in this act, working towards a final climax that leads into a surprisingly open and lengthy endgame sequence.
It’s a good twist to be sure, and it kept me hooked on the game clear through to the end, but it wasn’t quite as poignant as I was expecting from Jonas Kyratzes. Part of it might be how NPCs only speak to you in quick snippets, preventing any sort of direct plot expansion from the dialog. There’s definitely a story here but one without a central narrative to follow, told more from the actual flow of the game and hints in the environments than plot lines. The Sea Will Claim Everything certainly had its share of subtext analysis to do to glean real messages but it’s more of a challenge here, and I honestly can’t say I grok the full depth of what Omegaland is saying. I was also thrown off a bit in how it doesn’t have a proper ending in the traditional sense, and while I’m still pleased with the conclusion it might be something to prepare yourself for.
Seeing the ending is totally worth the effort, of course, because Omegaland is much more than its twist. The platforming is responsive and solid, and the game gives you plenty of creative and wide-open levels to practice your running and jumping in. You’ll get a good four or five hours out of this one, and aside from a bit of a power gap in the beginning of the second act the difficulty curve is nice and smooth. I’m not in love with Omegaland like I am with The Sea Will Claim Everything but it remains a quality title. It’s just that the quality is more in the gameplay than the narrative, and the world can always use more good platformers.