Fresh Goo: Osmos

By Jim Rossignol on August 6th, 2009 at 3:10 pm.


I’ve been having a bit of a play of one of 2009′s big IGF games, Osmos. The peculiar cell-based ambient puzzler is due for release very soon, so I thought it might be an idea to post a few impressions, and let you guys have a look at the trailer, which is exclusive to RPS. (For now, at least.) Go take a look.

Osmos wants to be biological. You are a cell, or a gooey bubble, a inside a floaty 2D plane. Movement is the main challenge: you can absorb other cells that are smaller than you, to increase your gooey girth. Bigger blobs will absorb you, however, and must be avoided. The trade off, the resource management, is that you need to propel yourself by expelling material. This makes things tricky: you have to be measured, cautious. The faster and harder you expel, the more rapidly you are propelled through the viscous fluid surroundings of your surroundings, but you also get smaller, and that means you can absorb fewer blobs, and are at greater risk of being absorbed yourself.

Managing the amount of material you expel, therefore, is the key challenge, and your ability to do so will decide the tougher level. Lose too much material and you can’t engulf your target, and that will lead to your doom. While this is the main trick, and the core conceit, it’s also the main problem with the game: it’s possible to mess up, and have all the other blobs become bigger than you, for a no-way-back scenario. But also it means that you are often defined by your blob-absorbing inertia. Once you hit a certain size, you’re pretty much guaranteed a win. It’s a mopping up operation, like the crucial winning point in an RTS game, except here the blobs can’t surrender.

Osmos is a classic motion puzzle game, but it feels wholly fresh and new. I think this is in the way in which the game is delivered: a soothing ambient soundtrack and watery, world-through-microscope visuals makes it strange and – when you’re not making a mess and having to restart levels – relaxing. Chilled, engrossing, a little flawed. but making up for it in charm and colour: that’s pretty much how we like our games.

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30 Comments »

  1. dartt says:

    Ahh, it looks so soothing. It put me in mind, oddly, of a game called Paratrooper that was probably one of the first computer games I ever played; each shot cost you a point so you had to aim carefully.

    The music sounds lovely, kind of a Bodysong vibe.

  2. jon_hill987 says:

    I played the demo, it is basically like Fishy but more relaxing (and a little more complex).

  3. The Innocent says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this one. It reminds me of flOw, which was also soothing, and heaven knows that between games of Men of War and STALKER (no periods, sorry), I could use something to soothe the nerves.

  4. postmanX3 says:

    Looks quite a bit like Nintendo’s Art Style: Orbient.

  5. the affront says:

    Eh, doesn’t seem like anything at all changed from all those months (year? more? I don’t remember) when I played the alpha/beta? demo of this.. and I have no idea why it got showered with awards. The only things I really liked about it were the relaxed atmosphere / good soundtrack and that one orbit-inside-a-gravity-well level.. the basic gameplay mechanics struck me as deeply rooted in the realm of “meh”, as as the OP mentioned, once you reach critical mass it instantly becomes boring. Also reminded me of flOw.. just less fun. Really not a bad game, but… meh.

    Now obviously I don’t know if there are many other cleverly designed levels by now (trailer didn’t show any though), but that would be the only interesting thing about this for me… but even then, I’d probably spring 5 bucks for this at max, and I’d guess it’ll almost certainly be more than that.

  6. Hypocee says:

    I played the alpha and it is very pleasant and soothing to play, even in the more intense AI opponent levels and when you lose. One important strategic element that doesn’t get mentioned often is that you’re not only deciding when you can afford to expel mass, but where and in what direction. Given that your mass starts out near your vector and bounces around, you often need to make decisions based on where it will end up if you conduct a burn. If it bounces back into you, the burn’s free. If it goes into a blob that’s significantly smaller than you, that’s fine. If it goes into a similar-sized blob you’re headed towards, you might get it back immediately but you’re courting danger. If it goes into a big blob, it can lead to defeat. So laid-back Asteroids meets billiards-in-real-time. I’m very much looking forward to its release.

  7. Hypocee says:

    I don’t like this videogame because you can win and lose and in between it only feels great.

  8. unique_identifier says:

    damn that’s nice music.

  9. Patrick says:

    Having played the demo a while ago, I remember really enjoying the bits where you had to go after motes with particular personalities – that leads me to wonder, will there be multiplayer? That could, possibly, be very fun

  10. Optimaximal says:

    oooh, branded video player!

  11. Cooper says:

    The original game when I played got boring very quickly. The mechanics are interesting for the first handful of levels, but it needed more. Hopefully the new types of round things and game spaces hinted at will make it. Hopefully ‘chilled out’ doesn’t become the backhanded way of saying ‘boring’ it sometimes is…

  12. Jim Rossignol says:

    Aye, new FancyTech (TM) is being tested atm. Video might disappear in a bit.

  13. Lintman says:

    Anyone know what the release adds compared to the old demo? The demo was interesting, but I wasn’t really left wanting more – at least not if all it entailed was more levels and a few more AI behaviors.

  14. Vinraith says:

    I played the demo for this on Steam awhile back, it was good fun. I’m looking forward to a full release.

  15. Anthony says:

    I enjoyed the demo; I’ll probably buy the full game when it’s released. Great atmosphere.

  16. Hypocee says:

    Anyone know what the release adds compared to the old demo? The demo was interesting, but I wasn’t really left wanting more – at least not if all it entailed was more levels and a few more AI behaviors.

    Well, sorry. With the exception of the addition of pure repulsors and attractors, currently the major announced additions for the full version are more levels and a few more AI behaviours. In its defence, the vibe I’m getting is that the ‘more’ levels are intended to crank up the intensity of the stages’ character, rather than just their quantity; e.g. the unopposed Osmosis stages progress to a sort of slow-motion danmaku where you’re threading needles because every thrust counts, and the orbital stages start to rely on Integral Trees-style Hohmann transfers and other orbital element manipulations amid all the obstacle dodging. Fair enough, if ‘more of this, but distilled’ doesn’t appeal, it’s probably not for you.

    The best information I’ve found to date is here: http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2009/01/road_to_the_igf_hemispheres_os.php

  17. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    I played the demo ages ago, it was quite good, relaxing fun (though naturally some levels were trickier than others).

  18. Matt W says:

    This game is a work of actual genius.

  19. Scandalon says:

    Keep the new FancyTech(tm)! It loaded fast and looks great, much faster than youtube or even gametrailers “HD”.

  20. Gpig says:

    This just makes me pissed off that I put Orbient through the wash.

  21. Gpig says:

    err wait, it was called Orbital for the GBA.

  22. The Sombrero Kid says:

    the video is being hosted by gameriot.com do they offer people branded players?

  23. Jim Rossignol says:

    “do they offer people branded players?”

    Not as far as I know. This is a specific deal with RPS.

  24. bill says:

    oooh. I loved Orbital.
    It was really relaxing to play on the train, particularly if you had headphones for your GBA micro. I kept missing my stop though…

  25. PC Monster says:

    Been following thins one since its inception during one of the LGF tournaments (2008?). Loved the demo, love the atmos. Really looking forward to having a go with the completed game.

  26. Shakey-Lo says:

    I liked the demo of this when I played it. Very succinct game design.

  27. DMJ says:

    Yet more proof that simple game mechanics can be awesome.

  28. aion kinah says:

    Rowan Software made fun sims back in the day. I miss those days when there was new flight sim every month.

  29. stefanieneo says:

    Now an extensive selection of prescription eyeglasses with different colors, shapes(round eyeglasses frames),

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