Chilling out with Osmos

osmos

Longasc recommended Osmos to me when I was writing about looking for chilled out games last weekend. So in a spare moment I downloaded the demo. Ten minutes later I was drinking herbal tea and decking the cat with flowers while lying in a darkened room with The Aphex Twin playing on Spotify.

Osmos is beautiful. You are a point in space, floating lazily on a sea of calm. A trippy ambient soundtrack complements the sense of immersion. If you enjoyed the first stage of Spore then you have already seen a similar concept. The goal is to propel your blob around the screen and to absorb or avoid other blobs. But out of this simple premise, a very elegant game has been built.

As you can see in the screenshot, your cursor grows a small tail in Osmos. When you left click, your blob is propelled briefly away from the cursor’s tail. It moves by ejecting a small amount of matter from itself. So you can choose to move very slowly and conserve matter, or more quickly at more cost. You can absorb any blob that is smaller than yourself. Larger blobs are dangerous and must be avoided. If left to their own devices, the other blobs will end up drifting into each other and forming larger and more dangerous blobs. So although the game is relaxing, you don’t want to hang around for too long.

The game plays as a series of challenges, each with its own screen. Some challenge you to grow and absorb a particular blob, others to become the largest blob on the screen, and others to avoid specific blobs. There are screens where all the blobs are orbiting a huge fiery ball, and others which include tides in space which affect how you manoeuvre.

A few of the screens I tried were almost stressful in comparison to others, and I find that a failing in a game that strives so hard for a chilled out vibe. Even there, you have some options to slow down the flow to give yourself more time to think and this is a game where taking things slowly is rarely a bad choice. But aside from that, you can’t really go wrong here for £7 if you enjoy this type of laid back puzzle game. (Thanks for the recommendation, Longasc.)