The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
Same mission, same folks...just a different name

Search the Blog of helios and all comments


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Osmos for Linux...prepare to be assimilated

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" hard can it be?

That question persisted in my head as the game field materialized in front of me and as I ran through the tutorial.  Here was my initial take on the game.  This isn't a shoot-em-up that pits you against armed badguys...It's an "absorption" game...a game of one thing assimilating another thing.

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.

This game will challenge you.  It's soothing electro-drowse music will lull you into thinking you are the the Master of all you survey...

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.

Speaking of supporting the Indie Game folks...You can pick up a series of Linux games for what ever you want to pay.  It's called the 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 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.

Initial Run:

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.

-Sound Effects

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:

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.

All-Righty then...


Anonymous said...

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...

Thats too funny.

gagy said...

Glad to see that you are enjoying a bit of R&R!
Thank you for the information about this new game. One always need to try them out, even if it is not a major interest (or need...).
However R&R is good.

leighman said...

Played the demo and bought the game, based on this review!
Mainly for them embracing Linux and being DRM free, since I don't normally buy games.
Awesome job guys!

Chelle Minkin said...

Ken you are right. This looked sooo easy when I started, now it's pi**ing me off and I can't stop until I beat this freaking level. Thanks for tanking my evening for me.

Like I have anything better to do. It's raining here anyway. Of course it always rains here. It's the Pacific Northwest.

Great game Dave Burke.


Anonymous said...

this just hit the Linux Today site and I followed the lead from there. I kind of like games like this and after playing a demo, for ten dollars I'm in. Thanks for passing this along. I hope the devs do well with it.

Anonymous said...

Wow. For once I actually heard about something before it made it to your blog!! Bought this over a week ago and can't stop playing the damn thing. I too bought it to support the Indi guys giving Linux a fair go. To be honest though the game has given me far far more than $10 of value. Great to see not only something different in a title but the gameplay is really fantastic. Reminds me of the days where games were written fro playability rather than sales ability.

If you haven't got your copy yet. Get it now!!!


Jonathan said...

When you mention the Indie Bundle, you seem to say "it includes World of Goo, Penumbra, Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru, EFF and Childsplay. "The last two are charities it helps, not games that are included.

Gavin said...

I had to buy it after easily defeating the demo levels. Now the game is wiping the floor with me. Grrrr. I have not yet determined the optimal vectors for the later levels. The first 20 seconds are so crucial!

Of course, the replay value with the purchased game is high. Being able to procedurally generate a variation of any level should be a feature of nearly every game!

comdotlinux said...

Oh! & also got the Indie Bundle.
Already had Penumbra and World of Goo,
But doesn't matter, Supporting those who support linux is the way to go.
(Go where? -- Towards world Dominance of course ;) ).

Kevin (Whizard72) said...

I just wanted to drop a line to inform people about my Ubuntu Community channel on youtube at I have posted the first video by the time this post goes live with more to come. The idea is to post videos showing how to do certain things in Ubuntu such as installing 64-bit Flash. Feel free to comment suggestions for future videos. Thanks!

Gavin said...

Well... I have been "assimilated"...

I bought the game yesterday after reading this blog post, and ever since I have been doing one of three things:

1) Playing Osmos.

2) Cursing at my screen.

3) Planning better strategies while licking my wounds.

Oh, and I also installed the game on three platforms. ;) GNU/Linux (Ubuntu 10.04 64-bit), Mac OS X (10.5.8 Leopard), and Windows (7 Ultimate 64-bit). Runs great on all of them so far, other than performance differences amongst the hardware. The MacBook and Ubuntu laptop both have integrated Intel graphics, so "medium" rendering detail for them; but my main W7 gaming rig with its Core 2 Quad Q9550, 8GB of DDR2-800, and Radeon HD 4770 plays it on "high" just fine! =P

S3-1 is my current frustration. Stupid green guy is fast and smart! I almost had him twice, though, so it is only a matter of time...

I should say that I AM a gamer, and in my opinion this game is worth at least twice what Dave Burke is charging. (Portal costs $20 USD, after all.) The Osmos shortcut on my Windows desktop is right next to the shortcuts for Fallout 3 and D&D Online, and it is not out-classed by either of them. (Not even after my FO3 mods and 32-point builds - hehe.)

Anyone looking for a triple-A title for GNU/Linux should buy Osmos. $10 for access to all levels as well as procedurally generated variations? No brainer here. Support Osmos to support the "assimilation" of gaming from Windows to GNU/Linux.

Gavin said...


Finished all the "Ambient" and "Sentient" levels. Working through the "Force" levels now. Crazy orbits...

Anonymous said...

Helios, I don't know whether to thank you or curse you. Played Osmos until 3 AM yesterday and found myself thinking of strategy over breakfast, if you can call what I eat breakfast.

This game sucked me in and held me for hours. Thanks for giving me another Linux game for my collection. Things are looking up.

Gavin said...

I finally got around to purchasing the Humble Indie Bundle today. Should be fun to test them on various systems! Haha!