Sure I play a few games...ones I can win, ones I can employ cheats so that I don't get blown to bloody chunks the second my character pops into the game field. That happens a lot with me.
A "gamer" I am not.
So when Dave Burke from Hemisphere games emailed me to let me know that his game "Osmos" had been ported to Linux, it got my attention. As requested, he sent me a link to download it and give it a try. And as most always with Indie guys, it comes with no form of DRM.
That's a prerequisite for me to even mention it.
I fire off an email to our resident game reviewer, Mark Montgomery and give him a link to get the game from my server then on a whim, I decided to play it myself.
I mean...a game called "Osmos"...how hard can it be?
So..... you have games for the A-type personalities then you have games for those who might...ahem...
Prefer herbal sedation...
A game to be played in a nice hazy, mellow frame of mind Yeah, that's how I would have described it...
Had I not played it I would still think of it that way.
Until it kicks your a$$.
I can't beat it, Mark Montgomery can't beat it, but what else cannot be beat is the price. Mark's bullet-note review follows but before you read on, support those who have enough faith in us to port their work to Linux...It's the only way to insure they keep supporting us. We're only talkin' ten bucks here.
Humble Indie Bundle and it includes World of Goo, Penumbra, Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru, EFF and Childsplay. This is a pretty sweet deal and again, it helps our Indie Gamers support Linux games. It also support the Childs Play effort...it helps insure that this great suite of games is available free of charge in the future. Only 6 days and counting to get this bundle.
Ok...gameplay on Osmos...
Whaddaya got Mark?
I played the game on my Phenom II Quad Core running Funtoo 64 bit.
I was given the .deb version of the game, which was easy enough for me to extract manually.
The only glitch is that in the deb the symlink pointing to the game binary is in /usr/games/ instead of /usr/games/bin.
This was easy to fix and I assume it is simply a difference in how Debian and Funtoo handle game locations.
This symlink points to a wrapper script in the Osmos program directory that launches the 32 bit or 64 bit version of the game, depending on the system it is running on.
When I first started the game it launched full screen on my secondary monitor. This was a pleasant surprise as most games tend to load full screen across both monitors. The game did crash once after a little while during the first run, but after I restarted it it never crashed again during the evening.
I played full screen a while and then changed the game to windowed mode.
One thing I really liked is that when your mouse leaves the game, either in full screen mode by moving to the other screen, or in windowed mode by leaving the game window, the game automatically pauses. This is quite nice for people like me who tend to do many things at once.
The one suggestion I would make is for there to be an option to turn this feature on or off (especially when running in windowed mode), as there may be times when you have the game running slow and would like to do something else while you wait.
The graphics are quite nice.
The colors and animations are very interesting and entertaining.
The music is mostly calming, though some pieces are a little upbeat. The sound track consists of songs from a number of musicians. The bottom of the screen gives the song title, album, and artist for the currently playing song.
There aren't all that many sound effects, but this is simply due to the nature of the game.
The sound effects that are there fit the actions nicely and are enjoyable.
There aren't many controls to learn.
You use the mouse for most movement and there are a few keyboard options for some functions such as speeding up or slowing down the game.
You can also use the mouse to zoom in and out.
The interface is simple and easy to use.
It shows the levels you have completed and the related levels you haven't completed yet.
Just click on the level you wish to play.
There isn't much of a storyline here, but there doesn't need to be.
You are a simple organism that needs to absorb smaller organisms to grow while avoiding being absorbed by larger organisms.
Game play is simple.
You primarily click to propel yourself by ejecting some of your mass in a direction.
Clicking rapidly will eject more matter and speed you up a bit.
You use your movement to attempt to absorb smaller organisms so you can grow, or to escape other organisms moving toward you.
There is a good bit of strategy involved. You must choose your movements carefully in order to intercept smaller organisms and avoid larger ones. However, since propelling yourself requires you to eject mass, you must be careful to not shrink yourself too much.
Each level is a bit different. Some are simply filled with small organisms that start moving and growing once the level starts. Some levels have a sun with a gravity field in the center. Other levels start with you surrounded by huge organisms already. Some levels have various other challenges. Most levels have the goal of either becoming the larges organism or absorbing a certain special object in the level.
You win the level by completing the goal, and lose the level by either getting absorbed by something else or by allowing the other organisms to grow to the point where it is impossible for you to complete the level. In these cases the game shows a message telling you that you should restart.
You can restart a level if you like, and can also tell the game to regenerate a random variation of the level.
One of the nice features of the game is that you can control the speed of the time flow in a level. Sometimes you may want time to run very slowly so you can move very precisely. Other times you may want time to pass very quickly. Time speed is controlled on the fly in the level.
The main screen shows the levels you have completed, levels that are available that you have not completed, and sometimes some locked levels.
There is a button in the corner that brings up the game menu where you can change the game options, view your Achievements, etc.
The game has pretty much the standard configuration options.
I did notice that there is no option to specify the resolution to use in windowed mode. You simply resize the window to your liking.
When in windowed mode the Achievement blocks overlap if the window is not large enough.
What I would like to see:
An option to set whether or not the game pauses when it loses focus.
Some details on levels, such as the number of times you've completed the level successfully.
While the concept of the game is simple, and the controls are simple, the game can be quite challenging.
I have only moved a few levels past the tutorial levels at this point, due to the difficulty of the currently available levels.
Overall I am quite enjoying the game.
The levels are challenging and the music is enjoyable and calming.
This game could easily be addicting due to the easy play style and challenging levels.