Beating one of the levels in OmniBus means driving over a ramp, bonking the head off a statue, and careening into a set of bowling pins before turning right-side up to drive straight into the endless blue ocean. I take no responsibility for that last part.
After you beat any of the game’s levels you can continue to watch the titular OmniBus drive in its configuration—whether that’s straight ahead, doing donuts, or otherwise. This is consistent because your foot wasn’t on the gas pedal to begin with, and this is a driving game with no brakes. Strap in buckos, your bus driver just transformed into Freddy Krueger, and this love bug doesn’t stop for pee breaks on this wild journey to an amazing hyperdrive hellscape!
There’s nothing funny about normal speed. That’s why Disney recently made McDuck-sized piles of cash from a joke about a sloth in a work shirt agonizingly responding to a watercooler joke. Likewise, there’s something real dang funny about there being a Sonic the Hedgehog game in which he drives a police car and enforces responsible driving which must feel like an eternity to him. Going slow can be funny.
And fast? Oh lordy, fast is even funnier. Fast is unnatural and overwhelming. Fast is everything at once. Things go fast for reasons they don’t have time to explain. When you see a smart car zipping by it’s hard not to imagine that it’s being chased by the SUV behind it. And if you’re in a fit, gut busted open from the funnies, trying to catch your breath and slamming your fist on the table like there’s an invisible bail button there, too bad. Fast won’t slow down for you. Fast won’t slow down for anyone! It’s all happening! Now! And fast is where OmniBus is, it’s what OmniBus is, and it just keeps going faster and faster.
Crashed at the intersection of Katamari Damacy’s (2004) goofier sensibilities and the demolition of the Burnout series, OmniBus is an activity set centered around busses that do not stop. Sometimes you’ll need to weave around mad traffic. Sometimes you’ll need to stop a rampaging gorilla. Sometimes you’ll need to escape Earth’s orbit because you’re on the lam after robbing the bank for the mob. But you’ll never stop moving. That’s not in the OmniBus’ nature.
Made of few polygons and largely weightless, as if it were made of paper, the OmniBus is a very precarious ride. One of the most trying tasks I had while sat behind its wheel was to plant and harvest corn (on a moon base), driving in circles laying the seed, then doubling around to pick them up, which is made even harder as many of the seeds sprouted as a pinball bumper instead. Trying to parse out the rashes of cornstalk and bumpers would be tricky alone, but I was also in a runaway vehicle that only edged up in speed. One nudge from a bumper could easily launch me through the thin glass of the oxygen dome (that’s why I mentioned this was on the moon, it was a key detail you see).
Sharp turns and collisions don’t just cause accidents, they cause devastation. Your vehicle may feel paper-thin, but the buildings are most certainly made of birch skin. You can spiral like a football through civilization and watch it crumble in your wake, feeling like Chris Farley stumbling through sensible Japanese doorframes in Beverly Hills Ninja (1997).
The calamity is a three-dimensional version of Captain Games’ criminally overlooked No Brakes Valet (2013), a multiplayer parking game full of fender benders and bated sound effects, and one that’s perhaps sharper than OmniBus. Both games thrive on chaos, though Valet may be two-fifths chaos, while OmniBus is four-fifths. Which might be a little too much.
Balance is thrown into the end-zone so that OmniBus is moreover a playground for jokes. That works for Amazing Frog? (2013) and Goat Simulator (2014), but the speed and goals in OmniBus feel like a specific challenge that I don’t think is even meant to be met—points, high scores, missions and truly tough collectibles.
What is there to prove by beating a system made to make you look like a dumbo? The missions are charming, but they can also become agonizing as your vehicle is blown over like a birthday candle. And the free-roam modes, where you might better embrace that chaos, don’t feel quite as fleshed out. OmniBus would work better if it rolled with its own punches instead of creating a system that only exists to be fought with—the reward is smaller when randomness does so much of the grunt work. Just sit back and let the car drive you into the sun. Life just flies by so fast when you’re having fun.