I love Osmos. Sorry for killing the suspense immediately, but I couldn’t keep it in. I guess that’d be like M. Night Shyamalan telling the audience before The Sixth Sense that Bruce Willis’ Dr. Malcolm Crowe is dead. What’s that? You haven’t seen The Sixth Sense? Erm, let’s move on.
Osmos is one of those games that takes a really simple idea and executes it perfectly. In Osmos, you control a mote (imagine a little gooey bubble) in space. Absorbing motes smaller than yours increases your mass, allowing you to chase down even bigger motes. Usually, the goal is to become large enough to devour a specific blob. Once you’ve done so, you move on to the next level. If you touch a mote larger than yours, you’ll begin to lose mass. You then have a narrow window in which you can escape; if you don’t, you die. Simple, huh?
It mightn’t sound massively exciting, but Osmos chucks in a few other gameplay elements to keep things interesting. In order to move your mote, for example, you have to tap the screen on the opposite side – up to go down, left to go right, and so on. But each time you do so, you eject mass, leaving you increasingly vulnerable; you have to balance the size of your mote with your need for momentum in a particular direction. You can also speed up and slow down time, an invaluable option on certain levels and often a great alternative to zooming around.
In a further bid to mix things up, Osmos offers several different stage types. Among others, there’s Solar, in which your mote is constantly pulled along an orbital path, and Deflector which sees you hunting down a particularly obstinate mote that repels you as you approach.
It’s ironic that absorbing is the name of the game, as Osmos will likely leave you in a drool-inducing trance. In fact, Hemisphere Games suggests you play Osmos with headphones to get the full effect. The ambient soundtrack is right on the money, and even changes tempo as you manipulate time.
- Easy to pick up
- Controls are perfectly suited to the touchscreen
- Excellent ambient soundtrack
- Seriously, none
- It’s quite hard – does that count?
Summary: It’s genuinely tough to pick flaws with Osmos. Floating around in space is utterly absorbing and a joy to play. It’s possibly the type of game that kids might deem ‘boring’, but what the heck do they know?
Developer: Hemisphere Games
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.