Game Review | Osmos
Game summary: Your objective is to grow by absorbing other motes. Propel yourself by ejecting matter behind you. But be wise: ejecting matter also shrinks you. (Osmos official site)
It's quite tricky to really explain what Osmos is, but I suppose the closest I'm ever going to get is by calling it physics-based momentum puzzler. And if you don't know that that means, that's okay because I'm going to explain it now.
Every level (or, at least, every level I played) sees you start off as a mote that needs to grow in size and either become the biggest mote in that level, or to absorb a particular type of mote to progress and unlock new levels.
To absorb the other motes in the level, you need to eject matter in the opposite direction to where you want to go, although you really need to keep in mind that doing so will make you smaller and more likely to be absorbed by other motes - and the matter you eject will only increase the size of the motes behind you, making for interesting risk/reward decision-making on a regular basis.
The biggest issue I have with Osmos is that there's really not much more to the game than that and boredom can set in quite quickly. It's a very relaxing game most of the time, but there's not really enough variety between levels to keep you playing for any great length of time - although I don't think that's intended by the developers either.
In addition to the simple, but pleasing, visuals, the soundtrack is part of what makes the game so relaxing. There's a very nice range of chilled out music playing in the background that provides audio stimulation without ever feeling intrusive.
However, the reason I say that it's relaxing 'most of the time' above is because there are some levels which can prove very frustrating. Especially when they can become near-impossible to complete very early on without any warning from the game.
Here's a tip for you: zoom out on a regular basis to see how well you're doing. It's very easy to feel that a level is simply being challenging, only to realise that you've wasted your time because the motes that were off-screen while you were zoomed in grew so big that you'd have to spend a lot more time being super-careful to proceed when it may be faster to simply restart the level.
And that happens a little too often for me. I only ever play Osmos in short bursts to avoid repetition setting in, so when something like I described happens, I'll almost always quit the game there and then rather than play the exact same level again just so I can move on to another extremely-similar environment.
This might sound very harsh on Osmos, which is not my intention. Played in small bursts, and hopefully avoiding anything too frustrating, it can be a very soothing experience and something fairly unique in gaming that I would recommend you at least try out.
Osmos is one of those puzzle games that is almost perfectly balanced in terms of challenge and frustration, but only 'almost'. It's fun and relaxing to play - especially with the fantastic soundtrack accompanying the 'action' - but does tip over into irritation just that little to often for my liking.