Osmos (PC) (2009)

Overview: Propel yourself around the map and absorb organisms ("motes") smaller in size to grow in this casual, physics-based puzzle game.

Gameplay:
Movement is achieved by ejecting mass. However, the game observes the basic laws of physics so speeding up, slowing down, and changing direction would also require ejecting mass. As such, it's also necessary to absorb mass, but motes, the name for organisms in the game, can only be absorbed if it is smaller than the player character (color-coded blue) as opposed to larger (color-coded red).

At the current size the player character (light blue mote) can absorb the two smaller (blue) motes would be absorbed by the larger (red) mote.

The player is also given the ability to speed up or slow down time, for large scale actions or fine-tune actions, respectively.

Different levels have different goals. In many, the goal is to become the biggest mote. In some, the goal is to absorb a particular mote, usually one that's governed by some property (e.g., speed, repulsion).

The nature of each level changes as well. For example, all the motes in a level may be stationary, but so packed, that the player must be precise and form a strategy.* Another level may contain anti-matter motes, motes which cancel out with matter motes.

*Tip: Absorbing motes isn't the only way to proceed. Figure out how you can apply the laws of physics to get other stationary objects to move!

Attack the Biophobe!


Steam Game Time: 76 minutes

20181121:
I loaded up an old save file (Game Save Manager) dated 20140717 but the date of the first Steam Achievement (20120902 2233), that of the save files (20120902 2326) suggests, and the logged Steam Game Time (76 minutes) suggests I only ever played on September 2, 2012.

I played two sessions today (approximately 1 hour 34 minutes and 1 hr 46 minutes).

Steam Game Time: 3.4 hours (session game time); 4.7 hours (total game time)

Thoughts:
Pros:
+ Relaxing music

The world can seem overwhelming if you look at the big picture...

+ Good visuals; it's particularly fun to zoom in and out.
+ Excellent physics (conservation of momentum); educational
+ Tutorial

Neutral:
~ Some puzzles are good and challenging

Cons:
- Some levels feel too random
- Can require patience

It can help to zoom in.


Summary:
The mechanics of the game are simple, but mastering the controls and pacing is a key to the game. Sometimes the player will have to quickly eject mass to catch up to a much needed food source, while other times the player will have to simply eject a tiny mass and patiently wait.

Quickly touching on the educational aspect, Osmos can be used to gain an interactive understanding of momentum. First, there's the momentum involved with movement of the player character. Speeding up, slowing down, losing mass while remaining roughly stationary, and bouncing off walls are actions that occur with physics-based principals. Second, there's the interaction with other organisms. Shoot a piece of mass at another organism, and depending on it's mass, it'll move accordingly (with a velocity* that conserves momentum).


Overall, fans of action puzzle games may enjoy playing Osmos and science teachers may enjoy it as a teaching tool.

As a remark, I did momentarily spend some time reflecting on the multiple sizes of life as I played the game. As an example, as the player character grows and the player zooms out to find larger organisms, it can be easy forget that there may still be small organisms floating around. But simply zoom back in and there they are!

*As one learns in physics, velocity consists speed (scalar) and direction (vector).

Osmos (PC) (2009)


Relevant Links:
Osmos Website
Osmos (Wikipedia.org)
Osmos (Steam Store Page)

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