Combining genres is one of the most common means for game developers to bring something new to the table. Sometimes, it's a no-brainer, like when Ubisoft brought RPG mechanics to the Assassin's Creed titles as a means of keeping players invested in lengthier experiences. Others are less so, like when the Metal: Hellsinger developer The Outsiders realized they could apply rhythm game mechanics to a first-person shooter for a whole new approach to combat. Now, there's Omega Strikers, the debut offering from Odyssey Interactive which offers the best of both these camps through a blending of three genres worth of mechanics.
At its core, the game is built off of the frame works of three different genres that no one could have expected to mix well. And yet, the specific elements used make for a novel and engaging experience in practice. In this case, the MOBA gameplay and character variety of League of Legends, the frantic goal-scoring of Rocket League or Pong, and the constant knock-back combat of arena brawlers like Super Smash Bros. are all slammed together for a competitive multiplayer experience.
This may sound like a sure recipe for chaos, and in some cases, it is. There's definitely a fair bit of madness that stems from players being able to execute all of these different gameplay elements at once, and throwing players with little experience in any of these three genres into the mix only exacerbates the issue. After getting my hands on the game for a few matches though, and seeing how the mechanics blended together first-hand, I was surprised at the amount of structure and strategy that ended up going into each match.
Case in point: A typical round of Omega Strikers kicks off with players choosing from the diverse cast of characters, or Strikers, they'd like to play as. Like in League of Legends, each character has different skills, attack ranges, and abilities they can bring to the field, making them each viable choices while also keeping them from feeling generic. When paired with the abilities and limitations of other characters one could be teamed up with, this can also result in a number of different options for how to approach a given match based on the composition of one's team.
This is to say nothing of the character's designs. All carrying a slight anime aesthetic, each one has plenty of personality and defining characteristics that both factor into their personality and hint at their gameplay approach. The sleek and gauntlet-touting Juliette, for instance, is great at zipping to a target and smashing it with short-range attacks, while the gargantuan Dubu is ideal for tanking damage and blocking or redirecting anything that comes into contact with his wider frame.
The game currently has 10 Strikers to choose from, with more planned for release as the game continues along in its development. Likewise, each character has different cosmetic changes that can be applied to them, including palette swaps and entirely different outfits. All of these can be unlocked both through earned in-game currency and microtransactions, and none of said cosmetics will be locked behind any sort of loot box system.
After selecting their characters, players are then divided up into two teams of three before being set loose on Omega Strikers' field - a 2D soccer pitch with a top-down view, where the ball will ricochet around like the ball in Pong. Players can then choose to tackle the match in whatever way they'd like, but it's worth noting that certain roles will ideally need to be filled during the match.
For example: Two players can roam the field to either ricochet the ball toward the opposing team's goal with their attacks or run interference against opposing team members, landing attacks on them until they get knocked out of position or are sent flying out of the arena momentarily. The last team member, meanwhile, will need to hang back and protect their team's goal, bouncing the ball back with attacks whenever it gets too close to them.
In the matches I played, I was able to experience both of the on-field roles and the goalie role to their fullest. Each felt necessary and utilized the same basic mechanics of the game, but also felt diverse enough to make them feel like entirely different experiences from one another. The more offensive roles never felt brainless or spam-y, requiring me to think carefully about my positioning and available attacks before trying to strike a ball or player. Likewise, playing as the goalie never felt monotonous or boring, with balls constantly flying at me from different angles and forcing me to carefully time attacks to prevent them from scoring.
And this is only what stemmed from the most basic strategy. Other approaches factored in a variety of gameplay elements that could entirely shift the direction of an Omega Strikers match. One might focus on a single player buffing and healing themselves with items that spawn around the edge of the field turning them into a one-man offensive line. Another could see all three players working in tandem to form a wall of coverage, forcing the ball into a tighter ricochet space as they approach the opposing team's goal. And yet another is to have no strategy at all, with every player diving headfirst into a match with reckless abandon to throw off their opponents.
All of these could be viable, and it's really up to the players how and when they use any of them in any given Omega Strikers match.
It's also worth noting that none of this was too tough to grasp. In addition to the quick and breezy tutorial offered before players can dive into the game in earnest, the overall design of the game is clear and easy to comprehend. I had no trouble figuring out which items did what, where my character was at any given time or how I could best serve my team based on where every other player currently was. This went a long way in making the experience much more enjoyable than it could have been, and makes it clear that the game will be viable to try out for just about anyone who's interested.
Topping things off is the fact that all of this is intended for release as a Free to Play title. As such, players can dive into Omega Strikers without paying a cent, and will only need to spend money if they're interested in any of the game's cosmetic items.
When all was said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my time with Omega Strikers. My brain was buzzing with all the opportunities for different strategies it held, and I couldn't wait to try out the different characters to see how they played compared to the ones I stuck to for the demo. Fans of any of the genres it pulls from should definitely have this game on their radar and give it a look as soon as they're able.
TechRaptor previewed Omega Strikers on PC with a copy provided by the developer. It is currently exclusive to PC via Steam through a Closed Beta, with a Mobile release slated for 2022 and a console release slated for 2023.