We are more than overwhelmed by Osmos for iPad. When Osmos was released for the PC and Mac about a year ago, we constantly found ourselves in a trance while playing it. However, there was always a level of interaction missing. Playing Osmos on a touchscreen removes the barrier created by a keyboard and mouse. Suffice to say, we haven’t been this impressed with an iPad game yet.
The goal of Osmos is to become the largest organism in your microcosm. In order to grow, you must consume smaller organisms while avoiding larger ones. The catch is that you need to release tiny bits of yourself in order to move around the screen.
There is a lot of skill involved in maneuvering around larger organisms without depleting yourself too much and learning when to simply allow your organism to float in one direction. If you’re in a tight position that is nearly impossible to get out of, the game will suggest resetting the level.
Although this is a similar concept to games like Spore Origins, Osmos is still a unique game on many levels. For one, it successfully creates a serene atmosphere with a brilliant ambient soundtrack and calming visuals.
At the same time, Osmos manages to challenge you. It’s survival of the fittest in your mote’s world, and one mistake can lead to your demise. The combination of these two elements is something you need to experience to truly understand, and Osmos does it best.
It’s a great big universe, and we’re all really puny.
The iPad version of Osmos has multitouch controls tailored specifically for it. It’s all very natural: You tap where you want to “release mass”, pushing you in the other direction. If you want to change the flow of time to speed things up or slow things down for better precision, you can flick or drag horizontally on the screen. Pinch to zoom works especially well with an instant response time and smooth scrolling. To access the menu, you tap the screen with three or four fingers. There isn’t any user interface covering the game world, allowing you to get sucked into the environment.
Also refined for the iPad is the flow of levels. In the computer version, there are three level progression paths to explore. The iPad version retains all the levels, but places them into two groups: Odyssey and Arcade. Odyssey is a set of 27 carefully designed levels that help ease you into the gameplay and discover the various elements of the game world, like repulsors that you can orbit around and different kinds of enemies whose goal is to devour you.
We’re just tiny little specks about the size of Mickey Rooney.
As you progress through Odyssey mode, you’ll unlock the eight different variations of Arcade mode. Here, the game will randomly generate levels based on your preference of level type and difficulty. This ensures that you’ll always have new organisms to consume tailored to your preferences.
Hemisphere Games’ effort in polishing this version of Osmos is apparent. The game design is thoughtful and intuitive, new level structures are flawless, and the visuals are stunning yet simplistic. For half the price of the computer version, every iPad owner should have Osmos on their device. You just won’t find another experience quite like it.