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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Game Review: Osmos

Some levels have you in orbit
Can’t help but feel a bit left out when it comes to gaming on the Android platform. There are a ton of  great games out there, but there is still a bit of spit and polish that is missing from our games. So when a truly great game comes along, it is a welcome departure, and one that deserves some attention.
Looking at Osmos doesn’t quite do it justice. While the graphics are simple, they are very detailed and simply pop on Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The game looks like it is taking place on a petri dish in Bernadette Rostenkowski‘s micro biology lab. However, once you are in the game, you can’t help but notice the outstanding framerate, and animation. There was tremendous amount of work that went into making sure the details are right. This is one good looking game.

The petri dish analogy is a valid one, you start off as a tiny microbe and unlike other games, there is no health bar to watch, there is no constant stream of information to monitor. The UI is a stark one, and uses a very intuitive multi gesture mechanic to bring up menus. Two finger and three finger taps, sliding a finger from left to right are all used in the game, and they work. All of these measures work together to form a world that is very much all about your little corner of the universe, and what that means is every inch of your display is geared towards one thing– surviving.
The game has one simple premise. Osmosis. If you are a little shaky on your 5th grade science, osmosis is the movement of fluids through a permeable membrane. What that means in the game is that the big guys absorb the little guys. Your microbe has to survive the round by moving around the play area touching smaller microbes and absorbing them, in turn making you bigger. As you can guess, you have to avoid larger microbes than you or risk being absorbed, and ending your game.
It sounds like a simple concept, and it is. There are of course trade offs. If you want to move around the play area, you have eject of a bit of yourself off to propel yourself forward. The mass that you eject out can be used to push other microbes out of the way, but if you move too fast you can become too small and lose all the work that you put into getting big in the first place. Sliding your finger left or right slows down or speeds up time, which is very useful, and can you out of some jams if used correctly.
The soundtrack to the game is wonderful and complements the game wonderfully. The soundscapes are so good that the game prompts you to put on headphones, and you will not be disappointed if you do. While I am not familiar with any of the DJs that worked on that game, the music is perfect, very watery and dreamy.
Osmos is a wonderful departure from most games that you see on the Android 
Play. A good game pulls you into its virtual world, and before you realize it, 45 minutes has passed, Osmos is that game.  It plays just as well on a phone as it does a tablet. The game comes with two game modes, eight level types and even AI microbes that intelligently react to your movements in game. Even at full price, Osmosis is a deal, but there is no excuse for not getting it now that it is 49 cents.