[Guest reviewer Colin Brown of Backlog Journey profiles the games included in the latest bundle available on Indie Royale: The All-Charity Pack.]

Being the good little bundle blogger I am, I've kept up with nearly every indie bundle released since I started writing about video games. Of course, this means that I took a look at Osmos before, back when it was profiled in the Humble Android Bundle. While I think most of my previous post is still valid and makes a lot of sense, I always appreciate the opportunity to go back and re-evaluate my original stance. Before, I wrote that Osmos was a very pretty game with a great new age spaced out soundtrack, but in terms of gameplay it could be slow paced, luck based and annoying. This time, I think I've come around a little to the game design and outgrown my previous frustrations.
For the handful of people out there who live under rocks and somehow missed its many variations and promotions, Osmos is a pretty unique take on some classic arcade gameplay. You are a microbe that needs to absorb smaller microbes and avoid bigger ones until you are the king of the Petri dish. It's a gameplay style that's been around forever, but Osmos is probably the most definitive version of it due to the wide variety of modes and the way the game enacts Newton's third law of motion. The equal and opposite reaction in this case is the way your microbe jettisons little bits of its own matter for propulsion. This means fast speeds and quick reactions will reduce your mass quite a bit, which is a problem if you finally catch up to that juicy enemy and it eats you instead.


When I first played Osmos, that's what led me to feel like the game was slow paced, but it really isn't so much if you're willing to be a bit more reckless. A few other things help support the repetitive recklessness, like the ability to restart levels at whim with new random configurations if the developer sanctioned levels don't work out. The three separate modes help a lot with this too, as each one is on a separate scale of progressions and allows you to stick to a particular favourite style of level. There's ambient levels, which are a little more relaxing and slightly puzzle based. There's survival levels, which are fast paced and tricky combat scenarios where you need to eat other microbes before they outgrow you. And there's orbital levels, which are really intriguing in theory but quite hard to control in practice. Still, those levels are probably the most interesting in terms of design due to the constant chaos and out of control motion that comes from orbiting the level.

Despite the calm music and soft visuals, Osmos can be an incredibly frustrating experience. But after making a fresh attempt at the game, I have to say that it's a very well designed sort of frustration, and definitely a worthwhile experience if you've missed it this whole time. It's a game that does an excellent job of expanding each distinct level design element slowly, but also doesn't force you through each element in a linear fashion. Osmos is definitely a fun experience in nice short rounds, allowing you to enjoy the visuals, the soundtrack (included as a bonus) and the challenge.

B.U.T.T.O.N.

Well this is certainly something different. It's rare to see a genre that's never been represented in an indie bundle, but this party game certainly fills that criteria. It's a fast paced one button competition that focuses more on what happens in physical meat space rather than what's on screen. As you can guess, it's multiplayer only and definitely a title suited for gatherings. Unfortunately the life of a game reviewer isn't a non-stop party, but I did manage to wake up and drag a very tired girlfriend through several rounds to get a feel for how it works.

In each round of B.U.T.T.O.N. you and the other players are asked to take a few steps back, and are then given some kind of instruction (Stand on one leg! Stare deeply into the other player's eyes!) before the game reveals how to push your button. Each player has a buzzer, and the instructions can range from simply pressing it, holding it down, tapping it repeatedly or not pressing it at all. The winners are crowned, and a new round can begin.

There's always a catch, and this one is right there in the title: Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now. When the game says that the first player whose button is pressed loses, it doesn't exactly have to be that player who presses it. If you're seven paces back and worried about losing, nothing stops you from grabbing them and wrestling your way to victory. Aside from what appears on the screen, it's open season. Make sure you play with friends you can trust to not punch everybody.


Despite the stern lecturing about not drinking and B.U.T.T.O.N.ing at the beginning of the game, to me this seems like a perfect party game to set up after a couple of drinks. Of course, it could also just as easily be used at a family gathering or even to entertain kids for a birthday party, provided your kids promise not to kill each other. It's very manic, fun and quite a bit different from the usual Wii or Kinect party games because of the very loose rules. As a bonus, the DRM free version included in the Indie Royale has a "naughty" mode. I didn't want to push my luck ("You woke me up to race you to your computer on one leg, and now you want to do it again except sexily?") so this intrepid reporter can't tell you exactly how naughty this is, but the main game itself is endlessly inventive and very lively.

If you still need an endorsement, I can say that I definitely plan to use it myself next time me and my friends need a party game before a Friday out on the town, because I know it would suit the crowd I hang out with perfectly. It may not be what you expect from an indie game, but it's awesome to see a relatively low profile genre and how often can you pick up a new party game and donate to charity at the same time?
[Osmos and B.U.T.T.O.N. are part of the latest bundle available on the IndieGames co-created site Indie Royale.]