Game Review: OsyOsmosis

Note: This template is copyright K.Becker and may not be used without her written permission.

Game: OsyOsmosis Audience: All
Publisher: IS3D Subject: Science: Osmosis
Developer: IS3D Grade(s): Any
Release: 2012 Platform: PC, Mobile
Genre: Quest Cost: $4.00 (mobile)
Perspective: Top-Down Date of Review May 13, 2015

Osy Osmosis is a fun game for all ages where you must help Osy stay safe as she navigates through her world collecting stars. Using your finger, tap in the direction you want Osy to move, but be careful, as you progress, more dangers will present themselves. To help Osy, you will use osmosis to keep her in balance with the world around her.

Source: Game Site

Provide a summary of the review and the overall rating, out of 100.

This game is pretty and kind of fun to play.

It will not help people understand osmosis on their own. They will need the help of someone to explain how what players see and do in the game relates to the processes of osmosis.

Content & Originality Are the game elements well developed and appropriate for the game? Does it show original thought? Does it follow accepted norms for the genre? ~OR~ does it have new take on known genre? 1)

Overall it's a pretty game.

Game Mechanics. What can you do in the game? Are the controls logical and easy to use? Does each 'level' fit the overall style of the game?

  • Controls are simple and easy to remember.
  • Reaction is slow on both devices - speed is constant so there is no way to speed up or slow down.
  • There are ‘bits’ and ‘stars’ - no obvious explanation is given for what they mean.
  • I can add and subtract bits - I have no idea why. Sometimes, my bubble shrinks and grows; sometimes it gets red - at level 2, I have no idea what’s going on.
  • The ‘bits’ which are supposed to tell me where the next star is are small and it is sometimes very difficult to see where they are pointing. Going “full-screen” helps, but I have a big monitor so it’s not clear this will always help.
  • There are also black dots whose purpose and function is unclear. Clicking on them tells me nothing.
  • I get advice to add or remove bits, but I’m not told why.
  • Eventually, I’m told that Osy will die if she gets too big or too small - still not telling me what the connection is though.
  • There is presumably a relationship between the black dots and Osy growing and shrinking, but 1) the dots are difficult to see making the reaction appear random, and 2) there is a lag between adding/subtracting bits and growing/shrinking Osy- it is easy to “overshoot” - end up dying a lot.

Game Progression. The transitions between levels (which need not be traditional levels) go from simple to challenging and are smooth and appropriate for the game.

The stated goal is: “help Osy stay safe as she navigates through her world collecting stars”. I guess the goal is to collect stars. Rather contrived. It really has nothing to do with osmosis.

Artistic Design Is it overall Visually Attractive? Does it make me want to try the game? Does it seem to be appropriate for the game?

Very pleasant looking. Everything hangs together thematically.

Set, Settings, Characters & Costumes Does it seem to be appropriate for the game? Is it: Appealing. Distinctive. Sufficient variety. Original or appropriate.

The character is cute, and the scenes are nice, if not obvious.

Audio Does it seem to be appropriate for the game? Is it: Appealing. Distinctive. Sufficient variety. Original composition or appropriately credited

Sound effects are cute. Score is appropriate - not irritating.

I was unable to locate this easily. (If it's not fairly easy to locate, it might as well not be there.)

Teacher's guide exists and is easy to find. It is clear how to use this game. Includes: Description of game play.Content description (documentation) is well organized. I can see how the game will play. Any required special permissions/skills to install or run are clearly identified. Installation and execution processes are clearly identified and easy to read and follow.

Very brief (here) with promise of more to come. Note: this is unchanged from the last review completed nearly 3 years ago.

Plug and Play includes lesson plans with thorough instructions for using it in the classroom (or other target environment). Will not require large time investment to make it “teacher-ready”

Supplementary resources for teachers (background, how to use, where to get help) exist, and are both complete and readable.

A community exists where teachers can go for help, support, to share. It is clearly identified and easy to find.

Instructional Strategies Are the instructional strategies appropriate for the learning outcome(s)?

This game uses discovery as a strategy. Osnosis isn't entirely an intuitive concept so relying primarily on discrovery may not be as successful as the designers hope.

Instructional Design Is the design in keeping with Merrill's 1st Principles of Instruction? Each principle is assessed pass/fail, and the score is the sum.

Objectives Does it appear to meet the educational objectives?

I already know about osmosis so I am able to make the connections between what’s happening on the screen and what my strategy ought to be, but the connections are not at all clear if the player doesn’t already know what osmosis is. This implies to me they are unlikely to figure it out from this game.

Integration In a serious game it is essential that the desired learning outcomes be part of the required interactions of the game.

It is not clear to me that players need to learn anything about osmosis in order to get through the game. They can simply learn the game's requirements without ever associating that with processes in osmosis. This could very likely be mitigated through teacher intervention, but the teacher support that would help make that work is missing.

Accuracy Does the game contain accurate information?

The action in the game does a pretty good job of mimicing what happens in osmosis. Since it is not really trying to be a simulation of the process, this is close enough.


Is scoring in the game related to the learning content? I can see no way to associate scoring or progression in the game with achieving the learning objectives.

Where possible, links to studies using this game in educational settings are listed and studies cited.

This section examines the game through the lens of the Magic Bullet model to see how well the various learning elements are balanced. This looks at both the overall balance and the educational components

Insufficient Internal Scaffolding

  • Need outside help / resources to get the intended message
  • design does not provide scaffolding

For a more detailed explanation, see: Magic Bullet Assessment

In each of these categories the rating is determined by how well the balance of the elements fits the type of game it is, its intended use and audience.

Overall Balance Is the relationship between the 4 main categories appropriate for this game given its intended use?

Can vs. Must Is it possible to get through the game without learning anything (i.e. without meeting any of the educational objectives)?

Operational vs Educational Is the required operational learning appropriate for the game's intended purpose?

Educational vs Discretionary Is there an appropriate balance of learning and fun?

Containment Is the game (including support materials) sufficiently self-contained to justify its use in the given context?

The game is pretty, cute, and kind of fun, except for the difficulty seeing the direction of the bits and the black dots, but those could easily be fixed by changing their size & colour.

However, players are unlikely to discover any the principles of osmosis from this game. The design is relatively sound, in that the behaviour of the game fits the principles of osmosis. There even seem to be different densities of liquids - I say “seem” because I am extrapolating based seeing slightly different coloured clouds and the fact that the speed with which Osy grows and shrinks changes depending on whether she is over dark background or one of the lighter clouds. The problem is that this connection is never made explicit so this discovery effectively works backwards: if you already know about osmosis, you will probably be able to figure out what the various game elements represent. Unfortunately, if the player does NOT already know these things, the behaviour of the game elements is unlikely to lead them to these insights.

Not Scored

What instructional strategies does it use?

Presumably, the primary instructional strategy is Concept Formation through Discovery

“One of the chief benefits of this game is its ability to help players form a mental model of the process of osmosis.

The learning happens as part of the regular gameplay and so is both situated and experiential.”

“As it is a kind of treasure hunt where Osy tries to collect stars and avoid obstacles, it could be consider-ed problem based learning.

The primary strategy seems to be discovery learning as there is minimal guided practice.”

There's a great list <HERE> (Kelly Jo Rowan) and <HERE> (Saskatoon Public Schools)

I'm building a list of theories and principles here.

IOW Shows understanding of standard gameplay and does not go against conventions. This is important because the goal of the game is educational rather than entertainment only.
  • reviews/osyosmossis-2015.txt
  • Last modified: 2015/05/18 13:45
  • by