Just last night I got a copy of the new independent game Osmos and gave it a spin. This game is possibly the most chill game I think I’ve ever played. Osmos is to twitch FPS games like watching the Big Lebowski is to participating in a triathlon.
Don’t mistake this for a bad thing though, it certainly is not.
My intent was to play a few minutes of Osmos to check it out and then finish watching Battlestar Galactica season 1. Several hours after starting I was still happily engrossed in Osmos. This deserves a little repeating – Osmos trumped BSG. Yeah, it’s pretty damned fun and addictive.
In Osmos, created by Hemisphere Games, you play a mote of matter in a fluid, physics filled world. I should say, a shimmering, visually pleasing mote of matter. You move in one direction by expelling matter in the opposite direction. To move faster, expel more matter. Of course that means changing your momentum takes an additional expenditure of your mass. This is important because in most of the scenarios (I believe the only exceptions are the training scenarios) you’re goal is to become the biggest mote on the block. If you’re consistently expending matter this is impossible so some conservation needs to be taken into account.
To make things interesting, other blobs of matter are out there which you can absorb to increase your mass. But they’re off doing the same thing, some getting absorbed and others getting larger for it. The playing field is constantly changing – sometimes motes orbit a central, sun like mass. Other times the very act of expelling matter to move in one direction reacts with other blobs, causing them to move and setting off whole chains of events. Then there are the motes other than yourself who have a purpose – some repel other motes violently, others eat and grow in an aggressive manner.
It sounds pretty intense but actually, it’s not. You’re not restricted to the “3 lives and your out rule” as you can try a level as many times as you’d like, employing differing strategies. The action is relatively slow paced for most of the game. As an added bonus, there’s an amazing ambient soundtrack that accompanies the game. I often find myself relaxing and watching my mote drift towards it’s goal, which in the end is a lot more productive than jetting off all over this moteverse as fast as you can, constantly correcting for direction and shrinking yourself into oblivion. There are a number of levels that require some thought to complete and while they can initially be frustrating, once you complete them you gain a great deal of satisfaction for having done so.
Osmos is visually and aurally very appealing. You won’t need the most modern of hardware to play it and still get the most out of the atmosphere created in the game.
There are different zones of game play offering some different experiences in their levels. There’s also the option to slow down time a bit if you’re finding things moving way to fast to complete reasonably.
There’s something to be said for being able to play a video game to relax. It’s been quite some time since I’ve felt more relaxed finishing my gaming session than going in to it. It’s nice to get off the edge of my seat for a bit, put down that extremely accurate representation of a modern fire arm and enjoy the view and easy-to-learn-hard-to-master game play that makes Osmos so much fun.
Osmos is available from Direct2Drive and Steam for $10 for your Windows machine. If you’ve got a Mac or run Linux there’s still hope. It looks like Hemisphere may be developing a native client for each and Osmos is reported to run well under emulators like Wine or virtually on a Mac.
As another note, I just found out that it plays rather well on my Eee PC 901. Simply take if off full screen mode and set your resolution to the standard 1024×600. Maximize the window and you’re good to go!
[tags]osmos, video games, review[/tags]