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Publisher: Mac Game Store    Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
Min OS X: 10.4

March 26, 2010 | Franklin Pride

Click to enlarge

Gigantic Entity
Eating games have been pretty popular over the years. Even in the early Amiga days, there was a game where you controlled a dinosaur and ate other dinosaurs to grow. There have been fish eating games, bird eating games, eat everything games, and even planetary eating games. No matter what the theme, you ate smaller things to grow and tried to avoid being eaten by the bigger things. Since the early versions, the game really hasn't changed that much. Osmos is an exception.

Osmos is a game about consuming matter to become the largest entity in the universe. However, you have to fire pieces of yourself off to gain the velocity required to move. This turns a very simple eating game into a game of balance. You have to conserve yourself to eat the larger objects, but you have to use yourself to hit them. So, you either learn to conserve your movements or become the prey of your larger cousins. It doesn't seem like that big a change, at least until you start playing.

Osmos is hard. The early levels, where it's just you and other motionless entities, are nothing more than a warmup. In the later levels, you have to chase down entities that also move themselves and eat things, you have to navigate around a gravity anomaly without getting sucked in, you have to deal with antimatter, and you have to conserve every last chunk of yourself. If you make a single mistake, you'll have to start the level again from scratch. It's unforgiving, but insanely addictive.

The only real disappointment on the gameplay side is that it's over too quickly. The levels number in the dozens, but the easier levels can be beaten in a minute or two. Once you get into the groove and spend the hours required to beat the tougher levels, the rest of Osmos goes without a hitch. Thankfully, the levels you've beaten already retain their addiction even after you've beaten them. You won't spend that much time to beat the game the first time, but you might find yourself playing again for half an hour or so occasionally.

Osmos's graphics definitely help. The world is essentially a background with particle effects and four or five textured interior-animated sphere varieties that number in the hundreds. However, despite the low amount of unique art, it all looks amazing. The particle animations inside each sphere and across the background make the entire world seem alive, especially in the gravity anomaly levels. It just gives you that feel of floating around the cosmos slurping up everything in your path or being slurped up yourself. It's a big place, and it's very beautiful if you look closely.

The sounds and music for Osmos are very minimalistic, but they're actually even better than the graphics. You hardly notice it at first, but every sphere that's currently slurping up another makes a tiny whine on the side that they're eating. Aside from that, there are only one or two other sound effects. You tend to not notice them while playing, but they definitely help the immersion. The music, on the other hand, is very noticeable. It's a set of atmospheric and electronic tunes that fit the theme of the game quite well and sound quite good by themselves.

Overall, Osmos is an agreeable, addictive, and atmospheric game that pretty much anyone can pick up and play within minutes. It's not an overly innovative game in its own right, but it adds enough to make itself unique. $10 almost seems too cheap.

• Excellent presentation
• Addictive gameplay
• Low price

• A little short
• Can be overly difficult

Publisher: Mac Game Store
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