Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Osmos" Review (For iOS and OS X)

Finding a good, original and meaningful game for mobile devices these days is frustratingly difficult. The market is virtually dry of any flavorful or desirable gaming content. At least, for mobile platforms. Sure, there's Angry Birds, Tiny Wings, even first person shooters such as N.O.V.A and it's most recent successor. However, the mobile gaming market remains relatively void of the new and more creative titles we've come to known on Nintendo's mobile gaming platform, the DS and 3DS series of handhelds. Osmos, a title available on both iOS and Mac OS X, is just what game users who have this difficulty (and those who haven't) have been looking for. It's fun, fast, intense and often times striking in it's molecular appearance. Is it worth the sub-five dollar asking price? Is it the game you've been looking for? Read on past the break for the full review.

Osmos is a game very similar to Spore. If you've ever played Spore, you know the goal ISN'T to modify and create new creatures, but rather, to survive. In Osmos, survival is key to success. You begin and play throughout the game as a microscopic single-cell organism called a "mote." Simply, all you must do, for the most part, is avoid threatening, larger motes and absorb the smaller ones either to become the largest or have absorbed a certain organism within the playing field. However, every time the mote is moved, a small part of it is lost. If you tap the mote in one or more directions enough time without absorbing double the amount lost or more, the mote will become so small that absorbing other ones will either become extremely difficult or even impossible, especially in later stages. It's also worth mentioning that the speed of the game can be manipulated easily through either a few swipes or trackpad gestures. This all sounds quite difficult right? Well, it really isn't.

The controls in this game differ depending on the platform. In the OS X version, the user must use a mouse to manipulate their mote. In the iOS version, the user must use their fingers to tap the mote in the right direction. Due to the fact that the user must touch or click the mote in the opposite direction that they wish to go into, it may seem rather difficult or tedious upon initial play. However, as one becomes more acclimated with the controls, like everything else, it becomes far easier to play. Luckily, the game developer was kind enough to start the game off slow with easier levels building into more difficult ones, as well as plethora of pre-game tutorials to acquaint the player with the different style of gameplay.

Osmos in itself has perhaps one of the most stunning designs I have ever experienced in a video game, especially on a mobile platform. Although the general composition of the player, surroundings and enemies are rather simple, the detail inside and around everything is incredible- especially for a game developed for mobile devices. If anything, it makes the iPhone and iPad shine. Despite what one may think, the game is just as visually appealing scaled up on a display as large as one of Apple's cinema displays for a Macintosh. The game also contains a ambient soundtrack that really helps to influence a relaxed mood in the game, or at some points, highlight the difficulty it's stages.

Overall, there's a lot to love and not much to hate in Osmos. It has pace control, a simple but challenging playing style, some of the best graphical styles in a mobile game to date and a pretty acceptable price point that is under five dollars. At the end of the day, if you're looking for something simple, challenging and fun, then Osmos is certainly a great title to check out.

GAMESCORE: 9.5/10 (Incredible)


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