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Osmos (PC) artwork

Osmos (PC) review


"Hemisphere Games put some real thought into this game. They didn't want you walking out thinking it was a loveless affair. Each new situation adds to the addiction and stimulates your gray matter and your gall, putting together a solid plan on the fly and having the brass put it into effect, even when it seems you may fail."



No falling blocks, no cute mascots peddling license titles with minimal effort, and definitely none of that junk you can play on Facebook. Osmos is a puzzler of a different species, one that works with physics and features gorgeous HD graphics and a sweet ambient soundtrack. Hemisphere Games leaves the dull sorting tasks to less capable and better funded companies while they contribute a title that's beautiful, engaging, addictive and challenging as all get out.

Our hero is a small heterotrophic orb much like one you may have seen under a microscope. The object is simple: guide your little orb around the screen into smaller orbs to absorb (read: devour) them. Take in the single-celled scrumptiousness and you'll increase in size, allowing you to snack on larger targets.

The catch is that you have to use miniature pieces of yourself to propel your hungry little procaryote from meal to meal, causing you to progressively shrink. Holding down the mouse button will allow you to machine gun bits of yourself in exchange for going much faster, building momentum and bowling over lesser eaters to satiate your eternal hunger. Swing that cursor around and blast bits into other directions and you'll slowly alter course. Just bear in mind that flying out of control and chewing through propellant with reckless abandon usually leads to flying into a much larger competitor and becoming lunch. Learning to counterbalance your momentum and gauge your speed in relation to the distance of your next entree becomes key.

But this isn't an endless cytoplasmic buffet. You have objectives to meet, usually focused on becoming the largest or eating a certain other organism.

Each level isn't just a feeding frenzy in a mosh pit of succulent smaller consumers. Advance levels and you'll know that frustration and brilliance can sometimes go hand in hand. Some levels really are just a cluster of cells all swimming together, ravaging one another like starving cannibals. Most of the time you're one of the small ones, trying desperately to work your way up the food chain by eating small and eventually devouring big. Others stages will have you:

  • In tight quarters with stationary cells, leaving you to use your propellant to nudge some of the bigger ones aside and gain access to small pockets of edible tidbits,
  • Racing another eater by trying to gobble up as much of the surrounding environment as you can to become larger faster all in the hopes of eating your opponent;
  • Or floating in orbit around a larger cell, defying gravity in an attempt to gulp up others.


Hemisphere Games put some real thought into this beast. They didn't want you walking out thinking it was a loveless affair. Each new situation adds to the addiction and stimulates your gray matter and your gall, begging you to string together a solid plan on the fly and have the brass put it into effect, even when it seems you may fail.

Once the difficulty picks up, no matter what level type you play the excitement will kick up a notch or seven and you'll experience both pure pain and bliss. Osmos will kick you in the teeth, starting you off as a speck amongst giants, forcing you to labor and plan, move fast, take chances, pull out any of the stops you can to get bigger, meaner and hungrier. If you slow down, you will either be eliminated or other consumers will nab all the good grub before you have a chance. Fail to stay aggressive and others will steal your opportunities. It's undoubtedly frustrating starting at such ridiculous disadvantages, yet elating when you are able to triumph against such stiff odds. Life isn't fair, and Osmos wants you to know that.

Perhaps the frustration factor can be a bit much, but without it Osmos would be another dull, dry puzzler that doesn't challenge you or stimulate your mind. It's instantly engaging, easy to pick up and understand, difficult to put down, and even harder to master. Once you're in, soaking the wondrous HD graphics, being lulled by the sweet ambiance of the soundtrack, and being soundly defeated by the sometimes steep challenge, you may find yourself trying “one last time” until about four in the morning. Even when the levels are difficult, the fast-paced and addictive gameplay make the challenge feel less like a concern and more like a device made to lengthen the game's life beyond sixty minutes. For those of you who don't value sleep and like going hoarse from screaming the f-bomb until the sun's rays kiss your face but find yourself too stubborn to give up, Osmos is your microscopic ticket.

Rating: 8/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (March 16, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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Feedback

If you enjoyed this Osmos review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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honestgamer posted March 16, 2011:

This was a great review, Joe. You definitely made me want to play it and I can almost imagine that I already have based on what you wrote. This sounds like it would be right up my alley.
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Halon posted March 16, 2011:

Good review that makes me want to play it also. I bought it a while back after hearing that a professor from my alma mater was one of the lead developers but never got around to trying it. Hopefully I will soon.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted March 16, 2011:

Thank you, gentlemen. I didn't know what to expect when I bought this game during the last Steam sales. It came in a cheap indie game bundle with a bunch of other great titles (Super Meat Boy, Braid, World of Goo, etc.) and I was pleasantly surprised by it.
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Masters posted March 17, 2011:

Nice work, as always Joe.

Just one thing:

Each new situation adds to the addiction and stimulates your gray matter and your gall, putting together a solid plan on the fly and having the brass put it into effect, even when it seems you may fail.

This makes it sound as if 'each new situation' puts together the solid plan and has the brass to put it into effect, and not the player.

I'm thinking that you mean: "Each new situation adds to the addiction and stimulates your gray matter and your gall to put together a solid plan on the fly and having the brass put it into effect, even when it seems you may fail."
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JoeTheDestroyer posted March 17, 2011:

Thanks Marc! Fixed it.

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