is a space shooter that wants to be Shadow of the Colossus deep down. It has a tree-hugging spiritual back story, giant gods to slay, and even its own floaty-light language used to vocalise the on-screen text.
Initially it’s all very confusing. Your compass and shield rotate around your ship, but are rendered practically useless by your ship or an enemy explosion obscuring it, when playing in the default view. Switching to an alternate view clarifies things, although with simple polygonal graphics for everything from spaceships to explosions, the screen can get very cluttered at times. That said, the frame rate never drops, with everything flying past in buttery smooth motion.
Ignoring the airy-fairy plot, your job is simple: collect twenty spheres from the vast play area and summon the god-like boss battle. On the easiest of difficulties, which I played first to get my bearings, this means holding down the fire button, constantly whacking the boost button, and that’s about it. There’s really not much else to do and you barely need to target the enemies, and on one level where you have homing missiles, you don’t even need to bother with that.
Boss battles on this difficulty may require a little more navigation to overcome, but could equally just require you to keep firing and boosting backwards, depending on the boss. However, this encounter revealed just how big the play area was, as having beaten a giant scorpion-like boss I had to fly back to the portal, which took about five minutes of boosting through a barren asteroid field. According to the developers you can fly all the way to the huge sun, but I couldn’t really think of any reason as to why you would want to do that.
Thankfully the game comes alive on a harder difficulty level. The adaptive AI throws all sorts of enemies at the screen and you actually have to think of where you are shooting to chain attacks together. You also have to make detours to collect the now-necessary power-ups and the restart points are spaced much further apart.
What was a dull exercise in holding down the fire button becomes a frantic battle, weaving in and out of structures and dodging attacks. I’m quite surprised at just how different the game is on a higher difficulty setting and it just shows that you should never judge a book by it’s cover. Or a game by its easiest difficulty.
The four levels can be beaten in under two hours and I must admit I was very underwhelmed when I first ‘finished’
However, to fully complete the game you must beat all four gods with all four ships, but as the weapons on the ships are different, you have to think about and deploy new tactics for each fight. In particular, the fourth ship, which rather than shoot lasers or missiles has a massive swinging drill, placing it amongst a small number of space shoot ’em ups which use melee weapons. This means getting in very close to the enemies and using the boost to dodge out of the way, which is a challenge when the screen is full of bullets.
To extend the game there is also a score attack mode and a pure mode, along with online score tables to keep track of your shooting prowess. There is also a very enjoyable local co-op mode in which one player takes control of the ship and the other mans the cannons.
The core concept of Kromaia Ω is that of a solid 360º shooter which can generate some epic battles, but the combination of frantic shooting, chilled out story and trippy visuals have been done better, most notably in Ubisoft’s Child of Eden. Whilst unremarkable, it remains entertaining and challenging, with the included co-op mode a worthwhile and welcome addition.