App of the Week - Osmos
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” – Sir Isaac Newton
By Sarah Combs:
This is the perfect intro for Hemisphere Games’ beautifully simple app, Osmos, where success depends on your ability to predict the sequence of reactions that occur after even the smallest of actions.
You travel around as a “mote,” which is like a little amoeba, and attempt to absorb other smaller motes in order to grow larger. Be careful though – it works both ways! If you make the mistake of running into a mote bigger than yourself, you’ll be absorbed. This is the goal of the game: to become the biggest or die trying. As Hemisphere Games puts it: “Absorb or be absorbed.”
The real beauty of Osmos is in its physics-based game play. This isn’t the colorful pull-and-fling chaos of Angry Birds; there’s a higher level of strategy that’s required. Although controls are incredibly simple – you accelerate by tapping behind your mote in the direction you want to go, slow down by tapping in front of your mote – there is a trick. To propel forward you have to eject matter behind you, which causes your mote to shrink. The secret is to move around with the fewest taps possible in order to maintain your hard-won mote matter.
This level of forethought causes Osmos to take on a kind of tranquil quality, where you get lost in watching the floating universe of slowly spinning motes. The minimalist electronic soundtrack adds to the overall calming experience of this gorgeously crafted game. If you’re looking for an adrenaline-packed racing game, this isn’t it. But anyone searching for an intellectually challenging, deeply engaging game will be more than pleasantly surprised by the simple beauty of Osmos.
While the basic rules and controls of the game are easy enough for even toddlers to understand, players 10 and older will get the most enjoyment out of the higher level of strategy that is required to succeed. The game becomes deceptively difficult as you progress and even older players may be challenged to escape larger motes within the later levels. Seeing the “Lifeform Terminated” pop-up can be incredibly frustrating after strategically absorbing motes for ten minutes or more.
Osmos was named the “iPad App of the Year in 2010” and its recent Android release did not disappoint. The game is best experienced on a tablet and is guaranteed to be a family favorite among kids and parents alike.
Osmos is recommended for Parents, Teens, and Tweens (ages 10 and older) for difficulty level and advanced strategy. Find screenshots, reviews and family-friendly ratings for Osmos at Famigo.com.
Developer: Hemisphere Games
Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iTouch (iOS 3.0 or later) and Android devices (2.2 or higher)
App Category: Arcade & Action
Price: $4.99 for iPad; $2.99 for iPhone
Famigo Family Rating: 4 out of 5 stars