Those who follow this blog know that I don’t recommend games very often. So you know that when I do, I really mean it.
So if you haven’t played Osmos (by Hemisphere Games), do yourself a favor and go try it out. There’s a free demo; the game is available on Steam as well as the developer’s own site.
Osmos Trailer on Vimeo.
Relatively speaking, a lot of independent game designers are trying to be experimental these days, and the problem I see with most of these games is that they don’t understand their own ideas — after playing, one feels that there was a lot of potential in the ideas that went unexplored, that the game never saw in the first place.
Osmos isn’t like that. It starts with an idea that several games have done before: you’re a cell and you eat guys that are smaller than you in order to get bigger. To this it adds the idea that makes the game stand out: This game is going to generally adhere to the nature and feel of physics in space; for example, momentum is conserved, so you need to eject your own mass in order to move. The game then explores the consequences of these ideas and ventures through a rich territory of additions that are all naturally suggested by the game’s premise.
The result, by the time you’ve finished, is not merely a satisfying game. It rings with that faint and distant sound of truth: because the game is based around laws of physics, it immerses you in these and you learn something about them. Perhaps not anything you didn’t already know in an abstract intellectual way, if you took physics classes in school; but here, you get a feel for them, so they become more real, more tangible. This game can change your perspective.