Recently Dealspwn reported on the high cost of purchasing games through Steam compared to purchasing a retail copy of the game. To take control of the Blood Ravens Adeptus Astartes and fight off a Tyranid infestation in Relic's Dawn of War II, you'll need to dig deep for the £35 asking price. However, many of the popular retailers are selling the game at just £15.
At launch, the price difference wasn't much better either. with Shopto.net selling the game at £23 pounds. It's disappointing to see that some of the smaller games such as World of Goo and Crayon Physics can be downloaded cheaper directly from the developer websites.
While purchasing retail games through Steam is clearly poor value for money, some of the small indie games which are not available anywhere else can offer a gaming experience which is a bit different from the ordinary. Osmos was released on Steam this week and with a couple of clicks it's easy to download a trailer and then the demo. If you fancy purchasing the game, it's currently 10% off bringing down the price to just £6.29. But even at £7, it's still a reasonable price. [Gamebase - Dealspwn's price comparison engine]
Osmos puts you in control of a small biological entity in a similar set up to the classic game asteroids, where you can boost around a small area. Although, the more you move, the more of your own matter you eject. Size is key in the game, as there is no weaponry.
If you touch another entity and it's smaller than you then it's absorbed into your mass. However, if it's larger, then you are absorbed into it and it's game over. All the other entities dynamically change colour as the size of your own entity changes. This shows which can be absorbed and which can't be.
There's no denying that Osmos is simply a beautiful looking game with a soft mellow soundtrack which fits in perfectly to the bright visuals. There have been several chillout games such as Flow and Flower on the PSN store which work well as tech demos, however the lack of any real gameplay can be frustrating.
Initially, Osmos may look like a similar type of game, however after playing through a few levels it becomes clear that a deceptively smart game is hidden beneath the aesthetically pleasing surface. Some levels look impossible to begin with, but by intentionally inflating other entities, they can be moved out of the way as their growth causes them to be absorbed into an even larger entity.
To handle some of the more complex manoeuvring , the game incorporates a time mechanic allowing you to slow time down for precision, or speed it up when you think you're big enough to win. In some levels you simply need to reach a certain size. At other times you need to absorb a certain type of entity, for example, an attractor which pulls matter into it or a repulsor which pushes matter away.
As may be expected, for just £7 the game doesn't last particularly long before the levels seem to run out of ideas and seem to be far more reliant on luck than skill. This can become irritating, although the branching style of the game means if you're fed up with the current level, you can move round and start a different set of levels.
Overall though, these are the type of cheap games I enjoy playing on download services as the price is reasonable and it offers something a little different to many of the larger mainstream games. Steam works well here by not charging more for the game than it is elsewhere and making it quick and simple to preview, then purchase and play.