Osmos for iPad, by Hemisphere Games
Osmos and Osmos for iPad, Hemisphere Games
$2.99 (iPhone) and $4.99 (iPad), *****
- Incredible game play
- Unlocked “arcade” mode
- Challenging, but not impossible
- Beautiful graphics
- Easy controls
Osmos and Osmos for the iPad are two new games from Hemisphere games. Both of the games are virtually identical to each other, with the primary difference just being minor tweaks to allow a customized screen to each of the platforms. As such, I am posting one review that is relevant to both versions of the game.
Osmos is a simple game, based on the idea of “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. This principle governs the world of Osmos. In Osmos, you are a…well…an orb of unknown origin. You move around the board by tapping the board. In whatever direction you tap, you expel a “bubble”, which in turn pushes you in the other direction. Action brings equal and opposite reaction. The more you tap, the faster you move (and the more you expel). Be careful though, because if you start moving too fast, it becomes difficult to change direction (momentum is built in to your movement!).
Your overall goal is to simply survive, and grow. Each level may have specific goals (such as “be the largest” or “grow huge”) but they are all built around the general principle of survival and growing. In Osmos, survival means not being engulfed by an orb that is larger than you. Growing is accomplished by “eating” orbs that are smaller than you. So your entire purpose is to move around the board, eating smaller orbs, avoiding larger ones. Sounds simple, right? Well, not so fast. A few wrenches are thrown in. First off, there are various other orbs that also patrol these areas. They have effects such as repelling you, actively chasing you, attracting you (as in gravity), and even annihilating you (via anti-matter). Throughout the game, you must be wary of these other orbs. The other wrench in the works is how the controls work in Osmos. When you tap to move, and expel a small bubble, you are also shrinking your size. As such, if you move around too much, you become too small and can’t engulf the other bubbles.
Osmos has multiple levels, with multiple stages built in. In the Odyssey game mode, you play through the guided levels, passing to the next one only when you complete the goal. Once you complete a level, you unlock it in arcade mode, which allows you to play any unlocked level at various difficulty levels. Levels include titles such as “chase”, “drift”, antimatter”, and more.
Osmos may sound easy, but trust me, it is a challenging game. As you move through the level, you must contend with multiple interacting orbs, which at the very least are interfering with your goal, and at most are actively hunting you while you hunt them. On the iPad version of the game I have made it thought about 25 levels or so, but some of them require multiple attempts in order to succeed. In general, I find the iPad version easier to play, simply because of the larger screen size, but the iPhone version is still great (especially with the retina display!).
You have the option of enabling Open Feint to share your “records”, although I generally don’t do this. There are also various awards (trophies) you can get for meeting certain accomplishments within the game. The graphics in Osmos are simple, yet perfectly suited to the game. The “blobs” are wonderfully detailed, without being too complex. Each type of blob can easily be recognized based on color and pattern. At the simplest, a red orb is one that can absorb you, a blue orb is one you can absorb. The background universe brings to mind solar systems, galaxies, and other “universe” themes. The ambient music is also perfect for the game. Electronic synthesizer music plays in the background, creating a perfect atmosphere in which to play the game.
The controls while playing are intuitive. Tap to release a bubble (and move). Slide to speed up (or slow down) time. Pinch or stretch to shrink or expand your view. No complicated gestures are required, meaning that even the novice can jump in and start playing right away. My daughter love playing the game, and even loves just watching me play it. Each game is unique, because in addition to your movement, the other orbs are moving (and shrinking or growing) as well – sometimes due to your actions, sometimes their own, sometimes due to gravity, etc.
The only thing I wish they had was some sort of multiplayer mode (I know, I sound like a broken record). I would love to see some sort of competitive mode between two players, to see who can absorb the other one first. I also wish you could set up your own “challenges” (starting boards). Creating a level and uploading, or downloading other people’s levels, would be lots of fun. But even without these options, I still find this game to be one of the best I have played.
All in all, this is a superb game with no downside. It can be played over and over again, even at the same level and difficulty, because no game is ever going to be the same. With incredible graphics, perfect ambient music, and easy game play, this game should be on the top of anyone’s list. For $2.99 (iPhone version) or $4.99 (iPad version), the game is well worth the money. Five out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.