Kromaia Omega Review

By Brandon Fusco,
The Shoot 'em up genre, or shmup, has a long, storied history dating back to before the arcade classic Space Invaders released back in 1978. Many of these games still stick to some form of the classic 2D display, such as RESOGUN or Geometry Wars, but there are always those who want their goodies in a 3D space. Stepping in to fill out that space is Kromaia Omega by Kraken Empire, but does the game have what it takes to earn its place among shmup royalty?

Logo

At a glance, Kromaia Omega is a pretty game with a striking art design. Most structures are made up exclusively of shades of gray and float through space unattached to any firm ground. Each gameplay area makes use of one additional color to set it apart. This color is used in the highlights of enemy hulls and in the design of your ship's armor. It creates a simple yet impressive color scheme that can be a joy to watch, but this is also the first of the games problematic design choices.

Key to any game of this style is the communication of important information to the player. At any point, the player needs to be able to see what's happening on screen, figure out which direction they to go, prioritize enemies, and execute quickly. The visual design hinders this quite a bit.

It's a good thing the targeting computer is functioning.It's a good thing the targeting computer is functioning.

Since much of the game space and enemies use only a few colors, trying to discern what's going on is problematic. The black and white of structures doesn't allow for any effective shadowing, and without a consistent reference point, judging distance and size is a struggle until you've begun to memorize the play spaces. Enemies are largely made of the same monochromatic palette with only a few exceptions, and trying to tell the difference between distant objects and potential threats is difficult.

The heads up display and ship coloring are particularly troublesome. On the first trip through one of the game's four levels, players are forced to take a particular ship. A ship's weapons' fire, thrusters, thruster trails, and HUD elements are all the same color. This color also happens to be the play space's identifying color, meaning that all of this matches a color found in abundance on this particular level. To make matters worse, once enemies and objects start taking damage, their coloring is layered with this same hue. When these objects are destroyed, rings appear in the gap they once occupied, and these rings are once again the same color as everything else, making for an unintelligible mess.

Imagine trying to aim and fly during all this.Imagine trying to aim and fly during all this.

This isn't the only way that the game fails to communicate effectively with the player. Each option on the main menu is a blocky representation of some alien language that the player must hover over to receive a translation at the top of the screen. Despite stopping to tell story before each level and attempting to build a mythos to the game world, the laborious delivery is cringe-worthy. The ring that floats around your ship and serves as the compass directing you to the next destination already suffers from being the same color as everything else, and since it's a ring, the arrow that you need to see is almost always being blocked by the body of your ship.

There are tooltips for how to use specific secondary weapons, but they are strewn about in little bubbles in no particular order or are randomly selected to appear during loading screens with little context. When these gameplay tips do appear, they are frequently poorly worded in both content and grammatical form. One of these reads, "The Linear Friction Deactivator allows to disable [sic] Linear Friction Simulation for your armor." After completing this game, I still have no idea what the Linear Friction Deactivator/Simulation systems are, let alone how to make use of them.

Maneuvering tight spaces can be fun, but this is as tight as it gets.Maneuvering tight spaces can be fun, but this is as tight as it gets.

Thankfully, the gameplay is fairly solid. Controlling the ship can take a little getting used to, and there's almost certainly a better way to do it if only the controls could be remapped. Once the controls are mastered, however, moving the ship around is pretty smooth, and with a few tweaks, it could be great. Zipping in and out of certain obstacles can be rewarding, but the controls aren't quite tight enough for consistent precision flying.

While most weapons are just some form of shooting, there is enough variety to make the differences relevant during the moment-to-moment gameplay. On lower difficulties, the enemies are fragile and ineffectual to the point that their differences aren't noticeable, but cranking up the difficulty shows that the game does have some depth. Unfortunately, encounters can sometimes be a bit wonky. Some ships can crash into the player at break neck speeds and won't damage while some slow objects will. Regular enemies don't appear to ever attack from behind, so despite the game being in full 3D, combat sometimes feels like a classic Star Fox game where enemies fly over your ship from behind, position in front of the ship, and then attack. Perhaps as a result of needing these enemies in certain places, they either have no collision or faulty collision, as it wasn't uncommon for large enemies to fly right through walls or columns to attack, which is exceptionally frustrating when you are stuck in a tunnel with little room to maneuver.

Almost the entire game can be accessed from here.Almost the entire game can be accessed from here.

Compounding these problems is a lack of content. There are only four levels in the game, and each needs to be completed four times, once for each ship type. These levels are expansive and have several large areas within that are visually interesting and sometimes engaging to interact with. Players will fly from one area to another, collecting pieces of a jumpgate to progress, but these tend to be scattered in groups across locations. The result is that one location will have several pieces, but then you'll have to fly for a period of time through a nearly empty space to get to the next location for more pieces. All of the empty space is tiring, and it's a waste that each playthrough of a level has the pieces in the same locations.

An attempt at hiding special locations with goodies in each level looks to make the spaces a little more interesting, but these are largely boring and unrewarding. The benefit of finding these hidden collectibles, aside from an arbitrary 1,000 point bonus, isn't really clear. As a result, the needle-haystack search, frequently followed by a simple but time-consuming button order puzzle, quickly feels like a waste of time.

Space snakes? Why did there have to be space snakes?Space snakes? Why did there have to be space snakes?

The boss encounters are entertaining the first or second time you play them, but they quickly lose their appeal once you figure out the optimal approach for each one. Many of the bosses have certain parts that are inexplicably invulnerable. Several weak points may be exposed at a given time, and though it may be to your advantage to attack one based on your positioning, it may not be available to be attacked at that moment. For instance, one four-armed enemy has weak points at the end of each arm, but until two particular weak points are destroyed, the other two simply float there appearing available for attack while taking no damage. This isn't conveyed in any way except that some parts will accept incoming damage and some won't. Failing to indicate these restrictions through logic or visual cue changes them from a potentially clever boss mechanic to a lazy and irritating quirk.

Trophies are equally haphazard and will likely prove unfulfilling. As if to illustrate this list perfectly, there is a trophy for flying to the sun, which takes about 30 minutes of flight that is so mindless that you could easily watch a video while doing it. As if that isn't pointless enough, there are a set of completion trophies that require the game be completed four times, which equates to playing each of the four levels a minimum of 16 times. In an unusual move, the completion of each level the first time rewards two trophies for no apparent reason. Also present are trophies for completing Pure Mode, a gargantuan task requiring the entire game be completed with only a single life and for reaching certain scores in Score Attack mode. Rounding out the trophy list is one trophy for unlocking the Omega Armor and one for finding all of the hidden treasures.

Summary

Kromaia Omega is a game with a solid foundation that's been significantly overshadowed by unusual design decisions. Controlling the ship and shooting down enemies could have been entertaining enough for fans of the genre looking for something new to play, but the color palettes and art style obscure the important visual cues that elevate a shoot 'em up from a hectic mess to an adrenaline rush. The repetition necessary due to an overall lack of content quickly pushes otherwise striking locations and decent boss encounters into ambivalence and boredom. The game's inability to get out of the way of the needs of its own gameplay cripples what could have been a fun game.
2 / 5
Kromaia Omega
Positives
  • Striking art style
Negatives
  • Only four levels
  • Big empty spaces
  • Colors obscure visual cues.
Ethics
The PlayStation 4 review copy was provided by publisher Rising Star Games. Brandon spent over eight hours playing through the story, testing extra modes, and timing how long it took to reach the sun. During that time, he managed to earn 15 of 25 trophies and doesn't look forward to the additional 20+ hours it would take to earn the rest.
Brandon Fusco
Written by Brandon Fusco
Brandon is an Editor and TGN's Host with the Most. The most what? The most opinions, the most understanding wife, and the most *funny cat videos. Previously Host of the Trophy Talk Podcast. (*Not Verified)