The ancient Greece of our history always had a sense of awe about it. Not just in the majestic architecture or nuances of their politics, but the religious influences and the art that came out of that time helped cement this sense of myth and magic.
That’s the world you fall into in this indie game.
The greek term ὀχλοκρατία (okhlokratía) means mob rule. This is the core of gameplay in Okhlos: Omega. Developed by Coffee Powered Machine and published by Devolver Digital. The Omega aspect of the title indicates that this is essentially the “final cut” version of Okhlos. After iterating on the game through a series of updates this final version adds some polish with: gameplay tweaks, deeper customization options/hero selection, and additional enemies to face.
Your narrator is the great poet Homer – as he tries to recall the odyssey of your riot through the world of an ancient mythical Greece. There was peace between the mortals and the gods. Until one day, when a meeting of philosophers comes to an abrupt halt when the foot of Zeus slams down from the heavens and crushes your colleagues. As a witness to this slaughter you vow to get revenge for your comrades. By making an angry mob.
You scuttle your mouse around the screen and attract bystanders to join your cause. You need to maintain your mob’s morale meter and keep it in the green, or else they’ll lose interest and wander off. Or die. Filling it up all the way unleashes Mega Chaotic Mob mode – satisfyingly giving your mob the power to decimate buildings on the map. These sections are filled with a swarm of enemies the mob needs to slay before they can proceed to the next level. In-between these levels are shops where you can exchange mob members for heroes or other units.
Citizen units have no special abilities but they still pack a punch. Equipped with a standard baseline of stats (HP/Attack/Defense/Speed/Morale) which get modified when it comes to the other contingents of your mob. The Philosopher unit is like your life-bar. If your player character dies in battle you take control of the next available one of its kind. When you run out of them it’s game over. Warriors are your main avenue of offense, while Defenders focus on defending the mob. The Slave class isn’t something to underestimate given their ability to carry items. When you come across bombs, invincibility pick-ups, hunks of meat to restore health, and ancient helmets that can summon a horde of ghosts to fight at your side? You’ll want a slave to grab it for safe-keeping. Adding flavor to your mob are the occasional Animal unit that get caught up in the fray of insanity. While they can’t attack, it nevertheless makes your angry riot group have a bit of diversity.
The Heroes of Okhlos: Omega are the main attraction of your mob. They give you the edge of success in combat. Some of them boost your various stats, others have special ranged or healing abilities, and on some occasions you can find something outlandish from the rest. To put it another way: you have your classical heroes making up most of the roster (such as Antigone/Prometheus/Electra/Oedipus), but the game isn’t afraid of taking artistic liberties either. “Tarios” and “Ruigios” bear a striking resemblance to the Super Mario Bros. while cameo characters from other Devolver Digital games like Enter the Gungeon, Hotline Miami, and Omnibus also have appearances. I managed to come across this rare hero named Glitchos (who looks like the Missingno glitch from Pokemon Yellow), adding it to my party after winning a mini-boss fight. Little did I realize how destructive it would be. Glitchos gave my mob the ability to have their corpses explode when they die. In theory it sounded like a novel idea. Out in the battlefield? Not so much. When the heat of battle was on I swear the explosions caused splash damage to other members of my mob party. It was impossible to get anything done at that point and I had to restart.
But that frustration is part of the adventure of Okhlos: Omega.
The hub area known as the Agora is the staging ground for the mob’s journey. You can pick which leader will helm the forces, along with an array of starting heroes to give an advantage right from the get-go. Your trek takes you through Delphi, deep into Ephesos, with a stop in Sparta, a visit to Atlantis, a tour across Athens, traversing the lava of Lemnos, and finally in the heart of Hades underworld. At the end of these stages the traveling mob has their might tested. Face-to-face against one of the Greek gods of myth your horde battles them in a duel to the death. There’s variety in these conflicts. Each of the deities has a set of moves and maneuvers that can demoralize your party and cut them down to size fairly swiftly. If you’re not careful. The best weapon against this is carefully timing your mob’s defense stance to block the attacks from these gods.
A fight that stood out to me the most while playing Okhlos: Omega was the clash with Ares at the end of the Sparta level. The mob enters his arena to be greeted with his sons Deimos and Phobos standing in the way. Ares himself won’t even bother coming down from his high throne until you manage to slay one of the twins. Prioritizing is key as his offspring put up a formidable challenge. The real climb in difficulty was reaching Mount Olympus and killing Zeus. This was only possible after defeating Okhlos: Omega once before, opening an additional eighth world on top of the original seven. It acted as a sort of New Game+ mode to get people back another time.
In addition to the formal boss fights there’s a series of mini-boss areas hidden within (almost) each level. You need to collect certain items early on to access them, carrying them as your mob goes along until you reach the penultimate stage before the final brawls (mini-boss is somewhere in stage X-2 or X-3 of a level, whereas the normal boss fights are always in X-4). Here’s a guide to all that. You can get a secret ending this way if you manage to kill the hidden Doctor Who characters in all of them.
Speaking of which, there’s another ending on top of the battle against Zeus. But I’ll save that from mention so you can check it out for yourself.
But at the end of it all, I did enjoy Okhlos: Omega. There were many moments of frustration as my mob was left up to chance whether or not we were going to succeed. Yet balancing that out was enough of a reward through hero unlockables and satisfying sense of progression overall. It’s a game of strategy and timing that you can’t blindly button smash and hope for the best. I realized that when it dawned on me “maybe I should let go of the shift button” and not run all the time.
You die? It’s game over. No matter how far along you might’ve come, you’re sent back to World 1. You can cheese it though. If your mob gets decimated and things aren’t looking in your favor – there’s a quit option. Using that let’s you start over at the beginning of a level and try again. Despite that, you might realize your mob composition is not salvageable as it is and have to start over anyway.
It’s about stepping outside the mindset of an individual, to think as a unified group. There were times it was best to scrunch the mob together. Other instances had the optimal response be spreading everyone apart. While that may sound simplistic on its own, Okhlos: Omega puts your fighting mind to the test. Can you make these snap sorts of decisions on the fly and on demand?
If you’re up for that challenge like I was, check it out on Steam!
If you want to know all the cheat codes, there’s a list of them here.