Bouncing around the cosmos with Osmos

I think it’s safe to assume that I’m going to be talking about many of the indie games I’ve recently added to my collection over the last week or so. It started with just five darlings from Humble Indie Bundle 3, but that list quickly expanded as bonus games were added to the collection, including everything from a former bundle, one that I missed out on when it released in December 2010. Let’s just make things simple and list ’em all, okay? Okay, good. Glad to hear you’re a fan of lists, too. Ka-ka-kaboom:

  • And Yet It Moves
  • Atom Zombie Smasher
  • Braid
  • Cogs
  • Cortex Command
  • Crayon Physics Deluxe
  • Hammerfight
  • Machinarium
  • Minecraft (free for a limited time)
  • Osmos
  • Revenge of the Titans
  • Steel Storm
  • VVVVVV

Yes, I put them in alphabetical order. You wanna make something of it?

Anyways…thirteen games. Probably half don’t work on my crappy Macbook. I dunno. I haven’t spent too long trying to see. I do know that Atom Zombie Smasher, Cogs, and Crayon Physics Deluxe definitely don’t work. Will have to try others later. I really really really hope Braid plays as it’s something I’ve been interested in for a long while, having heard it’s a great puzzler and a great story.

One game that does work on Mac OS 10.5.8–and plays extremely well–is Osmos. It’s an ambient strategy game set in outer space, giving the player control of a tiny mote which is trying to grow bigger by absorbing larger motes. You do this by bouncing/pushing the mote across the galaxy; however, moving the mote makes it lose some of its shape, getting smaller and smaller, making each click vital to its very survival. You better be hoping you’re moving towards another mote you can absorb, otherwise it’s best to just restart the level. As Isaac Newton would say, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This actually leads to a surprising amount of strategy.

Oftentimes, strategy can equal stress. You plan and plan and plan–and then everything goes wrong, leading to last-minute decisions to save your skin or keep things together. I didn’t really find that to be the case with Osmos though. It’s actually quite hard to plan ahead; the level starts, you see a mote nearby, try to click over to it, and then watch as it is absorbed by an enemy mote, turning it red, turning it deadly. You have two options: try to click away or just charge head-on, meeting death, which is the quickest way to restart the level. Other levels require you to be big enough to absorb a specific mote or chase down this one mote that is constantly avoiding you. Can get quite challenging, but even after failing like seven times in a row, I was having fun, learning, and just enjoying the all-around chill vibe the game’s soundtrack evokes.

I especially like zooming out using the mouse-wheel. Really gives off a great sense of size and wonder, and strengthens the idea that we’re all just tiny motes in a vastness, desperate to get bigger, hungry to get big.

Have only done the first few levels, having gotten to the point where I can decide my mote’s path. Looking forward to more Osmos, especially after chatty titles like Bastion, horrible vehicle sequences in Half-Life 2, or simply pure boredom on my Nintendo 3DS.

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