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We’re typing this while the Osmos soundtrack gently moans from our speakers - a relaxing ambient soundscape that makes us feel like we’re floating. In the game, we really are floating. We’re a spherical microbe, fighting for survival in a gloopy mess of other microbes. All we need to do to win is become the biggest. It’s a simple game mechanic, delivered with the most minimal of control systems: in order to move, you squirt out some of your mass, to send yourself gliding off in the desired direction.
Brushing against a smaller microbe causes you to absorb it and gain mass. But the opposite also applies: if you so much as touch a larger microbe, it will absorb you. And as you don’t have brakes, the only way to avoid collisions is to frantically squirt out more precious mass to reverse your direction.
So there’s a light tactical sheen to this game. Not enough to make you sweat, but enough to give you pause for thought. You have to continually think about how much mass you’re willing to waste to potentially score. It’s entirely possible to be undone by your target microbe absorbing a smaller one while you’re on your way to absorb it. By the time you get there, it could be big enough to eat you. Certain microbes have traits: some might flee from you, while others will be aggressively seeking to become the biggest, just as you are.
It’s a micro-organism eat bacterium world, achingly atmospheric, with the microbes all rendered in neon. Their calming motion and the lovely music, and the easy-to-grasp mechanics, all mark Osmos as another charming indie game for your collection.
Oct 14, 2009
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