Genre: Action, Platformer
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows), Xbox and PS4)
Developer|Publisher: Simon Carny | Red Art Games
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US Teen
Price: US $12.99 | UK £11.69 | EU € 12,99
Release Date: January 20th, 2023
Review code provided with many thanks to Red Art Games.
OmegaBot is a retro-looking 2D platformer where you play as a little robot on a quest to save the world. On initial glance, it looks like a formula that’s been done to death. If you do decide to take a chance on OmegaBot though, you’re in for a challenging treat with a lot of heart.
The world was once prosperous with machines and humans living in harmony. But all good things come to an end and a mist has engulfed the world turning organic life into robot zombie-like beings. Four hero’s attempted to fight back against the darkness but unfortunately succumbed to the curse themselves. When all seems dark, a little robot rises up to bring an end to all this suffering. Your job, as tough as it seems, is to save the world. You do this by traversing the levels and taking on the now-infected heroes before the final boss.
The game does a good job presenting this cursed world, with an opening cutscene using still images and text boxes. As you progress through the game, you’ll meet NPCs which will add a bit more context to what has happened. There was one I met at the start of the game who turns his nose up at the thought of a little robot saving the world, yet as you make your way through the game his opinion changes. I found it quite impactful, this NPCs ultimate fate which tickled my emotions more than most video games. There is a surprising amount of joy and sadness to experience in a little platformer.
The gameplay is that of a 2D platformer with shooting mechanics. The game has a pretty nice balance between the two but be aware there are a lot of one-hit death pits to fall into which feels a touch overdone. The shooting serves two main purposes; dispatching enemies and shooting downwards to access high platforms and even kind of glide across the level.
However, your weapon does have a limited battery with two stages. At full battery, your weapon does more damage towards the enemy, but when you deplete one bar, the weapon then changes function. An example of this is the initial starting laser weapon shoots a Mega Man-like lemon shot at full capacity but then alters to a more rapid-fire close-range shot once on the second bar.
This secondary fire can actually serve a beneficial purpose in some instances, but it’s kind of a pain you need to wait for the first bar to deplete first. If both batteries fully deplete, your robot will stagger, reducing speed, and the ability to jump but take a mini break and the battery will fully charge. It may sound frustrating, but this balancing act never niggled me during gameplay and just seemed to compliment the design choice. You’re not always jumping and shooting. The game will surprise you with unique moments like riding on a vehicle to mix things up. Levels are also littered with secrets so keep your eyes peeled for mildly transparent walls.
Hard But Rewarding
When I started playing OmegaBot, I found the barrier to entry pretty steep. The opening segment of the game is pretty punishing, with some tricky platforming and tough enemies to contend with, the checkpoints felt pretty far apart, leading to a lot of tedious repetition. I was on the verge of throwing in the towel. But after I pressed through the opening segment, I became pretty hooked.
What assisted with this is the varied level design and challenging boss fights. Usually, enemies with ridiculous health bars annoy me. But the encounters here felt pretty epic, and the sense of achievement I felt conquering them, especially the final boss, felt much like the old days on a tough Mega Drive game.
Flamethrower and Sniper shot
As you progress, completing a level or defeating a boss, you will unlock more weapons and moves. These include a double jump, dash and weapons like a flamethrower and a longer-range sniper-like shot which ended up being my favourite. You truly feel like the underdog getting gradually stronger over time. Weapons can be switched with the triggers, but it can be hard to track during the game’s frantic moments. Some form of pause function would have helped.
As you unlock weapons or abilities, the next section of the game will be cleverly designed to allow you to try them out without holding your hand. Cogs act as the game’s currency, found throughout the level and dropped by defeated enemies. You can also find these collectable eye-like items often cleverly hidden in the levels. These can later be exchanged for health or battery upgrades and new robot costumes, adding additional perks to your robot.
OmegaBot only has one set difficulty, which may feel a bit rough for casual gamers. The difficulty does randomly spike with some pretty brutal platforming segments. Checkpoints are frequent, but some could be better positioned. Once you have completed the game, you are able to play through again in New Game Plus which I totally felt compelled to do with all of my upgrades, something that is not often seen in games like this.
A Beautiful Robot Apocalypse
Graphics are presented with wonderfully detailed sprites. Levels are populated with enemies infected by the robotic virus, such as part robotic frogs and robots covered in moss. You can see the life that was once part of the creatures, which made it hard to take them out, to begin with. Then you remember this is a video game, and you shouldn’t think too deeply about things.
But in this dark environment littered with robot husks is life, with random birds flying away as you pass them (or you can shoot them if you’re a meanie) and tufts of grass growing, showing not all is lost in this dark world. It all seems sad and grim, but I would still say this game is suitable for all audiences.
The soundtrack is retro-infused and well-suited to the experience. I was very fond of the sound effects from the robot’s laser gun, which brought back nostalgic memories of older PC games. Performance was top-notch in handheld and TV, with no glitches or hitches to report during two playthroughs.
Conclusion- Do the Robot
OmegaBot is a tough, rewarding platformer with a lot of heart to it. After a tricky start, the game hooked me to its conclusion. The challenge is steep, especially in those boss fights. But I couldn’t help but keep trying until I finally won the day. OmegaBot is an example of a retro-style platformer that mixes everything so well, and to top it off, its presentation, both graphically and story-wise, is unique and memorable. It shows even in the harshest of dark times, something very small and cute can be the light of hope. If you’re looking for something casual, this may not suit you. But if you’re up for the challenge, OmegaBot is no generic retro platformer. It’s something that may just surprise you.
Final Verdict: I Liked it a Lot