Thursday, January 19, 2012

Orb-Eating Physics Fun

Eat or be eaten—that's the simple idea behind Hemisphere Games' Osmos. In the popular Iphone/Ipad game, players must maneuver an orb through outer space and devour smaller circular specks. The game's intuitive design, however, belies the complex orbital dynamics and thermodynamics that form the game's backbone. Since its release, the game has garnered numerous awards, and now Android users can share in the physics of orb-gobbling fun.

To control your orb, you have to shoot out a small amount of mass to generate thrust in a certain direction. Absorb smaller orbs, and you'll grow bigger. Players can practice their cosmic cannibalism while enjoying the game's striking visuals and relaxing soundtrack.

But don't let the game's soothing Zen-like music lull you into a false sense of security. Danger lurks in every corner of the Osmos universe. All of the orbs have a gravitational pull, and the bigger ones will pull you toward them more forcefully. Once you've come into contact with an orb that's larger than your own, you're toast.

Although the controls are quite simple—tap in the direction you want to go—the difficulty lies in using gravity to find smaller orbs and balancing between necessary thrust and sufficient mass. One of the game's most interesting modes involves many motes orbiting around one large star, and the player has to coalesce into one giant orbiting planet.

Ultimately, the game is quite open-ended and rewards several different styles. Are you a more conservative gamer? If so, your patience will be rewarded if you use tactical movements and let gravity do most of the work. If you're more aggressive, your quick fingers may compensate for your rapid loss of mass.

Some players have even explored beyond what the game's developers intended. In the video below, for instance, the player collected other orbs then slowly deposited bits of matter into one area. By the end of the level, he had collapsed the entire system and formed an enormous star that looks ready to burst.

Hemisphere Games released Osmos on Tuesday for the Android market. You can download the game for your PC or Mac at their website, or you can find the game in Apple's App Store. Free demos are available on the website.

1 comment:

  1. As the person who originally showed you this game, I'm happy to see you write about it! Game on!