Developer: Hemisphere Games
Price: $4.99 (£2.99) – on sale price
Description: Life on a Petri Dish
Pros: Looks, sounds and plays astonishingly, great concept, brilliant execution.
Cons: Could use a little more content.
Advised Control Method: Mouse (trackpad not advised)
The phrase ‘It’s a dog eat dog world’ could never be more relevant than in Osmos. Generally starting off as a small circular mote (a tiny micro-organism), you need to absorb neighbouring creatures that are smaller than you to grow and become dominant in the little ecosystem you live in whilst avoiding bigger motes which are out to absorb you.
Even though Osmos’s basis is very simple: absorb or be absorbed, its implementation is spot-on. There are different variations of the Osmos concept. For example you may have to absorb a certain intelligent mote with the same motives as you or become the biggest in your small world. What’s more the situation you are put in is different as well. You may start in a minefield of static motes that you need to work your way around, or an ecosystem with motes they orbit around one another. There are many different types of motes, such as attractors, repulsers and anti-matter trying to prevent you from reaching your end goal. Even though the basic concept is the same, each level feels completely different and unique.
Controlling your mote is simple yet also incorporates it’s own little twist. The Osmos world feels almost like you are in no-gravity, meaning if you push off in one direction you will keep on going at the same speed. To move, you must eject a bubble of yourself in one direction to propel you the opposite. However, the more you move, the smaller and more vulnerable you become. That’s until you absorb another mote.
Osmos looks absolutely stunning. The many types of motes are presented well and you really get the feeling of being on some small petri dish in a science lab fighting for your own survival. Watching the whole world around you evolve too is awe-inspiring and transforms a possibly daft concept into a believable one. Osmos is pleasing to the ear as well. The calm, majestic music is relaxing and the sound effects are simple yet incredibly well done.
The one thng that I thought might have been an issue with Osmos is its replay value. Admittedly there aren’t as many levels as I had hoped but even then each stage has a random button which places all of the motes in different positions and velocities changing your strategy for that level. Osmos isn’t easy either. The difficulty starts off slow but reaches peak fast. In the harder stages, strategy plays a big part as you have to try and use up less of yourself in movement but still reach and absorb small motes to grow.
Osmos is brilliant in every way. A bit more content would have been nice but its perfect blend of slow-moving gameplay and challenging strategic elements makes for an addictive game, one that everyone should get. Definitely the best Mac game I have played to date.