by, 08-10-2010 at 02:40 PM (3039 Views)
“The Cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant truths, of exquisite interrelationships, of the awesome machinery of nature” said a passionate Carl Sagan whom once tried to describe in a single sentence the complexity, and incredible nature of the Universe. One thing is for sure, as much as astronomers and astrophysicists try to democratize the complex notions behind their work. It is almost inconceivable now to imagine, that the entirety of the human species could understand even the slightest bit of the powers at work in the Universe.
Evolution and cosmology are both interlaced with science. There is a very poetic aspect, almost romantic way to describe our place in the Universe and how we came to be. It’s even more riveting to think that we are only beginning to understand the full spectrum of laws that guided our evolution and the creation of our solar system. It is indeed a very difficult matter to describe, when science itself, is based on theories and speculations. It is absolutely incredible sometimes however, when humans are able to express in physical forms, the amazing poetry behind the world we live in. Osmos is exactly that, it is an interactive poetic painting of 13.9 billion years of cosmic evolution.
Osmos is a very special game in a lot of ways. It is able to communicate in the simplest fashion, the principles behind: gravity, molecular evolution and natural selection. The game is divided in 8 primary gameplay types that incorporate the previous notions. In order to unlock all those modes, you will have to complete the Odyssey campaign that guides you through the basic principles of Osmos, which we will touch upon later. The Odyssey acts like a stretched tutorial for the game since three quarter of it are available in the subsequent Arcade mode.
Each mode has nine levels that get harder in increasing order. Ambient is the first mode you’ll play in the opening Odyssey levels. It is essentially, the basic playground of Osmos, where you will learn the basic mechanics of the game, and will have to become the biggest molecular structure by absorbing smaller ones. This mode is fairly straight forward, but does become challenging once you are put against gargantuan molecular clusters. The antimatter mode is pretty much the same thing as Ambient, but deals with a more subtle approach. Rather than gobbling the adjacent clusters, you will now have to work around, or use the anti matter bubbles to lead your way through the level. Anti-matter will reduce the size of your mote to a pathetic little dot proportionally to the size of the attacking bubble. The Impasse mode on the other hand combines the two previous modes in other to create a labyrinth of symbiotic mazes. You will try desperately to keep on growing without being eaten off by the anchored predators in a level.
The Repulsor and Sentient modes on the other hand put you against “intelligent” life forms that will be repulsed from you like a magnetic opposite, or will hunt you down in true survival of the fittest fashion. Apart from those features, these modes are based on tactical movements, and locating where are the worthy sized clusters to beat the levels. The last three modes are based off Newton’s greatest discovery. Stars now replace the flowing currents of molecular waves, and substitute them with the abrupt and ferocious pulling of gravity. The Solar mode now features solar systems with asteroid belts, small planets and distant dwarf planets. The main goal in this mode is to become the biggest satellite around the central sun. Warped chaos is the same principle however; you will have to slingshot your orbit through multiple stars in other to absorb the satellites. The last mode, entitled Epicycles, is the same principle as the former however; the numbers of satellites are incredibly reduced. This is probably the most challenging part of Osmos, but the controls make it extremely rewarding.
The principle around your mote movements are triggered by jets that move you in various speeds depending on how many times you’ve tapped in the direction you want to go. Quicker tapping makes your mote go faster, but you also lose more volume because of that. The same principle applies for orbits; you will have to tap further away or closer to recalibrate it. If you take more volume by absorbing satellites, your mass will increase and gravity will pull you even more towards the sun. Those are pretty simple concepts; they are partially the reason why Osmos is so simple to play. There is however a deeper layer to molecular motion. You can use propulsion to modify the path of every molecular structure in the level, as well as changing the orbits of your planetary opponents. Anti-matter can be used against matter to reduce its size and give you an opportunity to snake around two giant clusters or embodied a collapsing molecule. The game gives you the opportunity to slow down or accelerate time as you wish, giving you complete control.
Osmos captures the microscopic and galactic atmosphere incredibly well. It mixes both worlds in a very effective fashion; molecular structures look like giant galaxies ready to engulf your tiny mote whole. While solar system levels are almost indistinguishable from atomic magnetism between protons and electrons. The game brings a true feel of immensity and incredible insignificance at the same time. The zoom option gives you a very good range between the vastness of some clusters, so you can truly see how small you really are.
The serene atmosphere of Osmos however, even if it is helped by a tremendous visual style, is essentially possible because of the soundtrack. The game has a wonderful ambient score that truly captures the concept behind infinity. It features Loscil , Mat Jarvis (High Skies & Gas), Julien Neto, and Biosphere which are all incredibly talented musicians in the field of ambient space music. Some of the genres connoisseurs might even recognize some songs taken directly from Mat Jarvis’s legendary album, Gas 0095. Along with the faded sounds of molecular motion, Osmos’ soundtrack is a mesmerizing and tenebrous musical picture of the infinity of the Cosmos.
Whether is it in a song or in a game, we as humans, have the most amazing gift to materialize our passions and questionings in the most riveting forms. Osmos is a remarkable display of such universal poetry. The gameplay is fluid and simple; the atmosphere is incredibly ambient. The game is very simplistic, but it is able to demonstrate the complicated concepts behind gravity, molecular evolution and natural selection. Osmos combines perfectly the world of symbiotic molecules and astro-physics in the cleverest way possible. It is the metaphorical statement of what we have become as a species, and how far we have come to understand the Cosmos. Osmos is a fantastic game.
“From the primordial soup, out of the dim and the gloom we came, we are animals, one unbroken chain.”
Osmos is published by Hemisphere Games and is available on PC/Mac/Linux, Ipad and Iphone/Ipod Touch.
This game is available on GamersGate
1st quote is taken from Cosmos: A Personal Voyage by Carl Sagan, 1980.
2nd quote is taken from the song “Primitive” performed by Roisin Murphy off her Overpowered album, 2007.