Osmos for iPhone : Serious Zen fun

Osmos

Osmos for iPhone Rating: ★★★★★

Osmos has received a wealth of critical acclaim, and has been around for a while on desktop computers. I actually only heard of it myself though when it hit the iPad. Osmos could very easily be pigeon holed with the likes of the Playstion 3 game, flOw. But whilst that is partially true, Osmos also brings a wealth of innovation, and touch screen goodness along for the ride.

Review

At its very core Osmos has a simple principal throughout. You are a small blue organism, and anything bigger than you is generally reddish. If it’s bigger than you it eats, or absorbs you. Otherwise you absorb it. Absorbing is done so beautifully that you can even become fascinated by your own demise! As organisms consume each other they glow where they are touching and slowly inflate or deflate.. until its curtains for one.

Movement costs you energy, which is taken from your mass. So the more, and the faster you move, the smaller you get.

Mostly, you need to get big to win. And whilst you are trying to get big, so are the myriad other organisms in your world.

Geeks amongst us will recognise Osmos as a kind of game of life.

In many ways I feel that Osmos has found its true home on the iPhone. The way you control your organism feels best suited to a touch interface, over and above that of the mouse. And actually touching the creature you are trying to keep alive, as well as its environment serves to draw you into the world all the more.

Pinch zooming your environment to reveal just how small you are in a living microcosm of cells, all striving slowly to absorb one another, is quite humbling on some levels. And you seem to go on a journey each time you play a different one of Osmos’ variety of levels and game-types. Each time trying to advance from pin prick to world dominating doughnut that devours all around it. But each time in a level with a new and interesting twist.

Each “journey” is helped by the trance like zen state you enter as you listen to the level specific ambient tracks that come with the game, and watch your organism’s life trajectory slide towards “bigness” or disaster.

This is not a game played against the clock. Although sometimes inaction will cost you. Gravity can be a factor. As can patience. Inertia certainly comes into play. What is really refreshing, though, is the way the game changes up the level types you play as you progress though its Odyssey levels – which are kind of an extended tutorial.

After that you have a range of arcade levels, which are all variants on levels from the Odyssey. If you’ll forgive another analogy, Osmos is a bit like a box of chocolates. You will certainly have favourites in the box of levels. And some that you are not so keen on too. But you’ll enjoy all of them to some degree. Luckily you also do get to choose to play your favourite levels as much as you like.

Osmos iPhone 5

My personal favourites are the levels where you start as the smallest organism in the world, with literally hundreds of different sized organisms all around you, crammed together like commuters in a tube train at rush hour. Some are initially the size of buildings, when compared to you. Zooming into the tiny dot that is you is like one of those shots from a movie where we descend towards the surface of a planet from space. Once you have pinch-zoomed down to a level where you can see some smaller cells around you to go after, you are all of a sudden in the thick of the action. And sometimes it’s not long before you seem to have descended into the screen of your iPhone yourself. Particularly if it’s your iPhone 4′s Retina Display!

I have not played Osmos on the iPad. But by all accounts it is superb on that too. For me though, Osmos is a game that I want to dip into often, and over a long period of time. So having it on your iPhone with you all of the time serves that usage pattern much better for me then on a desktop machine, or even my iPad.

Osmos is not a 5 minute snack. However, it can be played that way. But what I mean is that even if you eventually go back and redo levels, there are unique solutions each time. And solving them for the first time, or over again is uniquely satisfying each time, like completing a Rubics Cube. So it is a game that has fantastic replay longevity, and you can either pick up for 5 minutes every now and then, once you’ve got the gameplay. Or can descend into a hedonistic waste of an entire day with!

I have to confess to having several multi hour sessions when I first learned to play Osmos. All at home. On my sofa. All when I had work to do! Only finally putting the game down reluctantly when I realised that it was almost time to get up for the next day…

If you don’t buy games for your iPhone. But would like one, Osmos is it. If you like games generally then Osmos is one of those unique ones that you should own.

So go buy it!

Pros

  • Intuitive and innovative use of touch screen for simple menu options.
  • Beautiful smooth graphics with depth.
  • Level Progression & Level Play Options: Odyssey and Arcade modes are a great format.
  • Slick presentation from top to bottom.
  • The Music.

Cons

  • There are a couple of ambient tracks that are not to my liking.
  • No Osmos 2 yet!

Price: $2.99 (App Store)
Category: Games
Released: Aug 05, 2010
Reviewed Version: 1.6.2
Size: 18.8 MB
Language: English
Seller: Hemisphere Games Inc
© 2008 Hemisphere Games, Inc.
Requirements:Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iPhone OS 2.2.1 or later.

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