There certainly isn’t a shortage of retro styled Metroidvania titles out there, with independent developers in particular consistently flocking to the genre. But there is always room for one more and Omega Strike tries to do things a little different, all whilst fully embracing the vast interconnected world that it centres around.
Omega Strike tells a simple story – one of how the evil Doctor Omega and his mutant armies are heading towards world domination. In their way though are a bunch of freedom fighters. This is where you come in.
Taking control of one character throughout vast worlds is usually tricky enough, but in Omega Strike you get access to no less than three – Sarge, Bear and Dex.
It is Sarge who is the leader of the team, initially coming equipped with a standard rifle, whilst Bear delivers a bouncing bomb style launcher and Dex utilises a short range, highly powerful shotgun. For the most part you are able to switch between these three guys with ease, cycling through and flicking and switching as certain weapons and special abilities are required. It’s a superb system which works tremendously well and whilst I would personally have preferred to see each character assigned to a face button or d-pad press, the swiftness in toggling between them ensures that very rarely will you be left with the wrong character for a specific situation. And besides, Omega Strike can be taken at your own pace throughout, so needing to nail a switch in milliseconds rarely occurs.
As you progress through the massive labyrinth of a world – this is Metroidvania in all but name – you’ll need to use each of the team as much as possible, as areas would otherwise be inaccessible without them. Without ruining the story running behind it all, the initial hour or so sees you restricted to using just Sarge, before slowly getting access to the others and their abilities, with commando rolls, Bear’s strength and Dex’s agile double jump all coming in handy. This therefore sees you needing to run back over areas time and time again, as you slowly unveil the entire world. As with any Metroidvania style affair, whether this begins to grate on you after a while or not will all come down to the individual, but on a personal level the decent pacing of Omega Strike only rarely allowed any sense of frustration or boredom to take hold.
This does however mean that with each flip of the screen, as you further your progression through the world, any time you go back you’ll find the exact same enemies in place and causing hassle again. It isn’t too much of an issue to take them all out multiple times, as your team of fighters is most definitely on another level to any foes that you may come across, but it can get tiring taking down the same old enemies as you attempt to work out the best course of action, and the quickest route to where you next need to head. There will most definitely be moments later on in the game when you decide to just run and jump your way past any opponents instead of carefully taking them down, especially when it comes to a quick run for hidden collectables nearer the end.
That is however not something you’ll want to take on as habit, as the vast majority of kills made sees the dropping of precious coin, allowing you to then upgrade weapons and power, and purchase health pickups or the occasional teleporter in order to make your life a bit easier. Whilst health add-ons are always a welcome inclusion, the latter of these is hugely beneficial, especially should you find yourself deep in a cavern with little enthusiasm for getting out. The option to teleport back to the main hub for a chat with a few NPCs and see the story progress is certainly a welcome one.
This teleportation arrangement is also essential due to the save system. Now, don’t get me wrong, Omega Strike is not in any way a tough cookie to crack, and the vast majority of the time you’ll find yourself moving from screen to screen, uncovering further paths, taking down enemies and defeating big bosses with relative ease, especially once you’ve learnt their simple attack routines. However, due to the size of the worlds you find yourself in, it would be nicer to see a more pleasing save system. There will be times when you find yourself dying due to rushing about – if only because you get cocky and think you can forget about the killing for a second – and that in turn will see a huge chunk of your explorative history wasted. Yes, the teleport is there to save you from all this, but a bit less spacing between save points would be preferred.
For the most part though you’ll find that Omega Strike is a relatively pain free, rather enjoyable 16-bit romp through a wonderfully unfolding world; one which can get immensely harder should you run with the ‘Hard’ difficulty option. The visuals work as they should – as does the map – and even though this is a game that could have embraced super shiny graphics, I’ve got nothing but praise for the route taken by the development team at Woblyware. The soundtrack is also rather awesome and whilst it isn’t one that you’ll be finding yourself humming along to forever more, it fits the experience perfectly.
And that all ensures that Omega Strike comes across in a very healthy way. Yes, you won’t be wowed, a better save system would be great, and you’re not going to find too much in here that hasn’t been done a million times over before, but should you be in the market for a good, fun, stress free Metroidvania-fuelled journey, then you could do a lot worse than help Sarge, Bear and Dex take down that damn Doctor Omega and save the world from being overrun by mutant hordes.