I’m always drawn to arcadey shooters on PSN and when they look a bit like Rez, you can count me doubly excited. So, Kromaia Omega should be right up my alley. It’s a free-floating space shooter that sees you thrusting through open space, shooting enemies and collecting checkpoint markers before facing off against one of the game’s five boss battles.
The story is some inconsequential silliness about facing off against four gods (the fifth boss is hidden away and the game doesn’t really explain how to get to it). Kraken Empire, the game’s devs, unhelpfully describe as an “adventure featuring the multiverse and the journey in search for the final answer. Kyllene system activates your armor and awakes you after your soul calibrates the unit. The year is NaN.”
The year is NaN. Right.
Once you get through the basic tutorial that describes shooting, thrusting and the 360 degrees of motion and rolling, you then get into the game’s first level. From this point on you are tasked with flying through each level’s twenty checkpoint markers. Sometimes you need to veer off course to take out enemies or collect power-ups but, for the most part, you’ll probably take the most direct path.
The game has three modes. Kromaia Mode is your basic story mode. Text comes and goes on the screen in an effort to create a narrative but, in gameplay terms, this mode gives you all of the levels which generous checkpointing when you die.
Pure Mode gives you just one life. It’s a more enjoyable challenge than Kromaia Mode as it actually adds some tension and difficulty. A standard Score Attack mode rounds off the options.
With claims that it offers more speed and dexterity than other shooters, and with it’s brightly coloured, flat textured visuals that evoke memories of Rez, Kromaia Omega should be spectacular but for some reason it misses the mark. The biggest issue is how cluttered the visuals are. It’s hard to see what’s going on, where you are going and what is attacking you. It looks stylish in static screen shots but when the game gets moving, it’s all just a bit too much. Because of this, you don’t get much satisfaction from destroying enemies. The sound effects lack punch, the explosions barely happen. So despite the four choices of weapon systems, you never really feel very powerful.
I think shoot ’em ups live and die by that. Rez got away with it by not really being a shoot ’em at all (it was more of a lock on and release ’em up) and by having some of the tightest scoring mechanics ever. Sadly, Kromaia Omega never really explains its scoring mechanics either, nor does score even seem to matter.
That said, there is still something enjoyable about how you move in the game. If they’d turned this into a more sedate Elite kind of affair, the movement could have made it very good. Instead of locking onto an enemy and endlessly circling around until you can get locked on, Kromaia‘s combat seems more dynamic although with some of the boss battles or larger group skirmishes, it can sometimes seem impossible to avoid damage.
If this was a bargain basement release on PSN, I could see some more merit in it but for £20, as a digital release, there’s just not enough here to make it worthwhile. There’s the makings of a cool game here but right now it’s all a bit of a mess.