Remember Spore, the Will Wright creation that was supposed to sum up the interconnected relationship between life, the universe, and everything, but ended up being more about goofy aliens with googly eyes? Osmos is the game Wright probably meant to create: It’s quiet, thoughtful, and somehow profound.
In Osmos, you control a sentient mote who exists in a floating world of particles and very little gravity. By pressing anywhere on the screen, you’ll eject a small part of yourself (gross!) and float in the other direction. Your fuel and your size are completely connected, so if you try to travel too far you’ll end up small and get absorbed by something else.
Nothing like a little perspective.
Missions range from becoming the biggest mote in the neighborhood, to absorbing specific motes that have gravitational fields or are sentient themselves. In the Odyssey mode, you’ll float and push yourself through a series of specific challenges; These unlock Arcade missions which are randomized but are available at a variety of different difficulty levels.
Osmos thoroughly draws you into its world with a creepy space-age soundtrack, multitouch controls that feel practically invisible, and a visual aesthetic that lies somewhere between a Nova documentary and a lava lamp. It’s not an action game in the traditional sense, but it is a cerebral, mood-altering game that is every bit as gripping. It’s also great on the iPad.
Osmos isn’t ideal for a quick adrenaline rush, or for hours and days of character-based leveling up. But if you turn down the lights, plug in some headphones, and let yourself get drawn in, it’s an unforgettable gaming experience.