There’s been a strong showing of hardcore space simulation titles recently, with games like Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen stealing headlines. Whilst they’re great to play, it’s always a treat when a more accessible, arcade-style space shooter like Kromaia Ω comes along. Looks can be deceiving though; whilst Kromaia Ω has the appearance of a simple space shooter, it tries to do so much more with somewhat mixed results.
As soon as you start the game you know you’re in for something a little different, especially since the game’s menu consists of Kromaia Ω’s own made up language of hieroglyphic-esque symbols. It’s odd and initially slightly off putting; whilst titles like Ico have adopted a similar approach with a fictional language, it felt a little out of place here. Nevertheless, it doesn’t really negatively impact any aspect of the game.
Kromaia Ω’s main mode is its ‘story mode’. It consists of four levels, each level tasking you with uncovering twenty ‘jump gate components’ – once you’ve collected them all you then come face to face with the boss (or God) of that area, whom you have to defeat in order to progress. The concept is simple, but the game tries to contextualise the process with a bizarre narrative that never seems to make any sense. A voice guides you through your journey, but it speaks with so much ambiguity that I never really understand what was going on – just that I had to defeat the Gods that inhabited each level.
Whilst the narrative is lacking, actual gameplay is quite enjoyable. Levels are big, offering an expansive battleground packed with enemies, environmental hazards and destructible obstructive objects to shoot down. Shooting is satisfying, albeit a little dumbed down – I felt for the most part I only really had to hold down the trigger and I’d blast through anything. At least it’s a joy to pilot your ship, the 360º movement and smart control scheme making the even the tightest of manoeuvres feel natural.
Your ship has a compass that guides you to each ‘jump gate component’, though it’s a shame that only one appears at a time – it takes away the incentive to explore the large areas and instead has you follow an almost linear path to each objective. That’s not to say that you couldn’t explore each area if you want to, though it’s a little pointless without any forms of collectibles to entice you.
At least Kromaia Ω takes advantage of the large battlegrounds with the boss encounters, each gigantic God having you traverse throughout the whole of the map as you try to take them down. They’re really enjoyable and manage to break away from the simple shooting found throughout each level; you won’t get away with simply holding down the trigger button, but will instead find your shooting and piloting skills tested in these tricky battles. It’s just a shame there are only four of these encounters in the game.
Whilst it’ll take you no more than a hour and a half to work through all of the levels, the game prolongs itself by requiring you to complete each level with all four available ships in order to unlock the true ending. Each ship feels completely different – surprisingly, there’s one ship that actually focuses on up-close melee battling. Each ship changes the way you have to play, offering a different dimension to each level and boss encounter. On the other hand, if there’s a particular ship you don’t like using you’re forced to use it if you want to complete the game.
The story mode features multiple difficulties, the most difficult being the ‘pure mode’ that challenges you to complete the game with a single life. It’s not impossible, but it’s tough – I’ll admit that I didn’t manage to do it. There’s also the ‘score attack’ mode that sees you trying to rack up the highest score possible. It’s a neat extra and the high score table gives you a goal to work towards.
Aesthetically, Kromaia Ω reminded me of a cleaner version of the polygonal days of the original Playstation. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; the game doesn’t look ugly by any means and certainly has its own style. It just isn’t that impressive. It manages to run smoothly though and I never noticed any instances of slow down with the frame rate even in the busier moments of utter destruction.
Kromaia Ω tries so hard to offer something a little different to the simple space shooting you’d expect, but fails to deliver. The narrative is a little convoluted and some gameplay mechanics try to add depth but instead take away from the overall experience. The game redeems itself with its intense boss battles and with the fact that it’s so enjoyable to actually pilot the ships in the game, but it doesn’t make you forget about its downsides. If Kromaia Ω prioritised the things it does best – the simple things – it might have felt like a better experience overall. Instead, it falls short of anything above average.
– Great boss battles
– Piloting the ships feels great
– The story is weak and convoluted
– Component collecting feels forced and linear
– Shooting mechanics outside of boss battles felt simple and not challenging