App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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Game Stew is back with yet another stylized pixel game with an offbeat structure and rpg mechanics. This one, titled Omega 13, is a mech combat game where you play as some sort of gladiator trying to battle your way through the top ranks to discover some hidden truths. Like many Game Stew games, it's pretty odd. For the most part, it's strangeness adds a lot to its appeal, with the only drawback really being how long and sloggy it can be to make progress.
For the most part, Omega 13 is all about launching your mech into an arena to fight any number of enemy mechs. These fights take place on a grid based map you have an overhead view of on your cockpit display, and you have to maneuver the pedals and buttons on your dashboard to position yourself so you can hit enemies with your weapons or otherwise move out of the way of theirs.
This all takes place in a turn-based manner, where you have a limited amount of "action points" to turn, move, and attack before your enemies do the same. Between this model for combat and some of the audio visual design, Omega 13's mechs have a really weighty feel to them as opposed to some mecha fiction representations of mechs as nimble combat suits.
When you are between battles, Omega 13 returns you to its main menu but there you can go to the in-game bar to chat up contacts or the garage to customize your mech in the way that you see fit. In both locations are an interesting cast of characters that occasionally will reveal new things about the game world to you or otherwise spew canned dialog at you, but in both cases it's clear there was some inspiration and flair in creating these characters and world, even if some phrasing is strange.
As for mech customization, you can re-tool just about every piece of your combat robot. Weapons, chassis, armor, and all the expected bits and pieces can be swapped around to change the way your mech moves and operates. Omega 13 also goes so far as to give customization options for your cockpit controls and decorations, both of which also alter the overall performance of your suit in battle. It's a fabulously detailed system, though I will say that it can take a lot of battling to unlock a decent variety of customization options and I'm not sure there's a much of a need to engage with it once you've settled into a configuration that works.
Launch, kill, repeat
Omega 13's primary appeal is its style. Everything in the game looks and feels really cool or presents interesting concepts. Underneath that exterior though is a pretty simple game that can be fun enough to engage with, but ultimately isn't particularly challenging. This is to say that once I got a handle on the mech controls and a loadout I liked, I'd clear every combat encounter completely unscathed and without feeling like I was in any position of potential failure.
This still can be fun in a way. Mastery of a cool mech feels cool, after all. My only problem then became just how long the game is stretched out. Omega 13 has you fight up through ranks starting down at 1,000 and up to the number one spot. You move up the ranks in multiples but even then it takes a lot of slow fights to ascend with just a few breadcrumbs of story and the promise of new gear you probably don't need being the only things to drive you forward through it.
The bottom line
You can always bank on a Game Stew game being unique and stylish. Omega 13 is no exception, and I quite enjoy the concepts behind its mech combat. Its only real problem is in how it balances its pace and difficulty, as the game is too slow for how long it is and too easy for how deep its customization options go.