Osmos is one of the best physics games ever made and a must-own must-play game. It debuted on PC in August 2009, on iOS a year later and reached Android mobile devices in January this year. I played it on the PC, played it on the iPad and now have played it on the Galaxy Note. I was worried that the smaller Galaxy screen would reduce the visual appeal and increase the difficulty, but the zoom option and identical touch controls counter-balanced it and I enjoyed playing it just as much.
Simplicity at its best
The design and music score is without any intricacies and breathtakingly beautiful in its lack of clutter. There is no excess or overflow in Osmos, every element, down to the last tiny mote, has a function. It’s a universe that captures the amazing vastness of space and yet reminds me of looking at cells through a microscope. The game mechanics matches the design and with only a few intuitive touch-screen controls, Osmos is science at its best and most beautiful.
Flexible and diverse
There are different modes and mechanics to shake things up. There are three basic level types: ambient, sentient and force levels. Ambient level are simplistic and relaxing with the single goal of colliding with other motes to grow larger and larger. The sentient levels introduce fast-flying predator motes as competition and you have to outgrow them. The force levels introduce gravity wells and orbital physics. There are two modes: Odyssey, a linear guided tour that unlocks new levels in Arcade mode as you progress. The arcade mode also has a randomizer that generates a new puzzle every time.
Battery Drain on mobile devices
Osmos is a bit of a strain on battery life, so if you are playing when recharging your mobile device is not an easy option, keep an eye on the battery meter.
Extremely accessible. There is no flash within the game.
Fixed camera angle that can be zoomed in or zoomed out. Zooming is player controlled and very smooth.
Text size & HUD (Heads up Display)
There is no HUD and very little text. The menus are text based, but even if the font is too small, you don’t actually have to read the words to navigate your way through. It’s a simple linear menu system with only a handful of static screens. If figuring out where you want to go through experimentation isn’t you, there is always the option to take a screenshot of the menu screens and enlarge them on your PC.
Those with red-green colour blindness should not have any difficulties. If you have the rare form of blue-yellow colour blindness, you may have some issues with the levels that are blue-green colour dependent. However, although Osmos makes use of colour, the different motes have different patterns as well as colours, so it can be played without making use of the colour element.
Subtitles & Closed captioning
There are no dialogue and hence no subtitles. Although there are sound effects within the game that is not closed captioned, they are not needed to succeed.
Reliance on auditory cues
There is no reliance on audio cues within the game. It can be played just as easily with or without sound. There are sound effects within the game and for gamers who prefer using sound, it’s a great help, but it’s an option not a requirement.
There are two sliders in the settings; one to adjust the Effects volume and one to adjust the Music volume. For those with some hearing loss and/or visual issues, turning down the music and turning up the sound effects might make for a more enjoyable experience.
This is one game where being slow is a requirement, not a handicap. The premise of the game is directing your mote and later on indirectly other motes by tapping the screen and for success, the less you tap, the better you tend to fare. Although you can try to ferociously tap to prevent imminent collision, it’s not the recommended or desired strategy. Patience is the key to success and the occassional gently tap is the winning formula, making this the perfect game for anyone who struggles to react quickly. Timing is important though, but it’s a proactive not reactive game, you decide when it’s a good time to add some thrust or change direction. If you are struggling, there is also a slider option for slowing down or speeding up the action.
A moderate level of precision is a must. You steer your orb by tapping at just the right place and although it is a slow-paced game which leaves plenty of room for correction most of the time, you will struggle to complete the more advanced levels if you are unable to tap at just the right place. You can zoom in a lot which will make it easier, but extreme lack of precision is a game breaker.
Pause and save options
The game can be paused at any time and automatically saves at the end of each level.
Easily played with one hand, in fact, designed to be played with one-hand as long as you can put down your device. For PC users an Update 1.6.0 added the option to play with the mouse only. Visit the in-game Controls menu if you wish to enable this mode. Changing include clicking on the player opens the menu and double right-clicking replaces Space Bar.
There is no customizability of touch controls, but none is required. The PC version has a one customizability option, toggle mouse only mode. It is not possible to play with a keyboard only without adding your own customization options, for example using a GlovePIE script.
Reading, language and vocabulary
The only language and reading requirement is to access the game via the text based menu. The level select screens are icons rather than text, making it even easier, so that you will only need to be able to read to pause, resume, restart or select a particular level. Osmos is available in English and has been translated into French, German, Spanish and Italian,
There is no reliance on memory skills. The game mechanics are few and simplistic and even if you don’t remember any of them, they are evident and self-explanatory within the first few seconds of every level.
Focus, Organization & Planning
There is some reliance on organizational and planning skills, particularly in the more advanced levels. A basic understand of velocity is required: you need to be able to estimate and control how fast and in which direction an orb will move to successfully complete the game. Level are short and can be paused at any time, but playing will require your full attention and concentration.
Math and computations
There is no math or any calculations in the game.
There is no social interaction whatsoever as it’s a single player game that contains no NPCs (non-player characters).
No customizability options or support tools, but none are required.
Osmos is an iconic game and if you haven’t played it, go get it now. If you played it on PC, but haven’t tried it on a tablet or phone, I would highly recommend getting a second copy and doing so. It’s a timeless classic with universal appeal that is widely accessible.
The Arcade mode option with its eight types each with ten difficulty levels as well as a randomizer makes it a game that keeps reinventing itself. You can generate levels on the principles you enjoy most and increase or decrease the difficulty level to suit you. You have to complete the ‘campaign’ to unlock the Arcade modes, but that’s not a chore, it’s a pleasure.
It’s great fun and the perfect mobile game to pull out for those micro-gaming sessions; whilst you wait for the kettle to boil or standing in a queue. It’s an award winning title that you will come back to again and again.
[stars rating=”5″ type=”Game”]