Quick review: Osmos (iPhone)

Starting life as a Flash game, Osmos fought the many other indie-developed titles to win critical acclaim along with a number of awards. After satisfying PC, Mac and Linux gamers, it floated to Apple’s iPad, stopping so elegantly on the iPhone and iPod Touch where Osmos has found a new and perfectly suited home.

You play as a cell-like life form in a pool of other circular organisms with the simple rule; consume or be consumed. It’s as if looking through the microscope on a droplet of liquid, watching the cells within. The life form under your care must be coerced into moving by tapping behind it and by doing so, a smaller piece breaks off to provide the propulsion. Tap too hard and a larger bits separate to become their own form of life. The idea is to navigate your cell into smaller ones, gaining their mass and size. Since the object of this game is to increase in size by absorbing smaller cells, losing too much of oneself causes quite to opposite effect, leaving you far too small to do anything other than become food. Split into multiple levels each with their own task to solve, some may ask of you to be the biggest entity while others could see you chasing cells that flee from you or escape an area that is surrounded by much larger cells. Osmos has a very good mix of levels that do repeat themselves but are so well inter-spliced, they rarely feel monotonous.

Because of such a clean art-style, Osmos excels in appearance, looking superb with a fairly limited but no less intense colour palette. Apple’s infamous pinch mechanic has part in Osmos by zooming in and out of the playing field, revealing an even grander splattering of colours and organisms. I’ve had no frame-rate issues when doing this even on the levels that have menacing cells who move with morbid intent. Everything is fluid and calming, until of course you come across a particularly tricky level. There were a couple that stumped me good and proper but a few curses and numerous re-tries later saw me onto the next challenge. Be warned, Osmos can get rather frustrating at times.

Completing levels in the campaign called Odyssey unlocks them in the Arcade mode for easy access and your achievements can be shared online via OpenFeint so there’s a good amount of gameplay and reasons to keep coming back for only £1.79. Osmos does come with a infliction of pretentiousness that is by no means a product of the game but those who would play it. I felt like I should have been wearing a beret and listening to free form jazz whilst playing. Yep, this game is cool but doesn’t flaunt it, it just is. Though not a game for everyone. The over-relaxed ideas may turn to boredom for some gamers and frustration maybe too much to handle but enter with the mindset to chill and take everything as it comes and you’ll be utterly absorbed.

Verdict:
Awesome
An outstanding experience that goes above and beyond expectations.

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