Ratings: Graphics amp; Audio: 18/25, Gameplay: 18/25, Creativity 24/25, Fun 18/25
The game flOw for the PC, the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable is not your everyday run of the mill game; after all it started as a thesis project. The game is very simple in concept and quite enjoyable in its simplicity and with the soothing music playing in the background can be a relaxing adventure.
The concept is simple and starts at the lowest levels of life; you’re a small microorganism and have to eat your way to the top of the food chain in tiny little gulps. Although that is the basis and basically the entire game it is not that simple and involves not only evolving but not being eaten at the same time.
You must rush around and eat smaller things or even parts of larger ones and not get eaten by more aggressive organisms in the big drop of water you swim around in. Each system differs slightly in the size of your world, the colors and controls but the game is the same with you working your way to a better and more evolved being.
Whether on the PSP with its tiny thumb stick or using your mouse on the PC or the much more intuitive six axis controller for the PS3 the game is easy to control and play as well as quite relaxing. flOw has that almost hypnotic quality of being a non rushing game that you simply swim around munching what you can as you go and slowly evolving into a bigger critter.
There are very few “rules” to the game like some of the bugs you need to eat the parts of before totally destroying them or the red and blue dots are your ticket to the higher and lower levels of water. The game is very easy to play and you simply find it is one that is a relaxing and enjoyable way to while away some time.
You can evolve into higher organisms starting off with a snake like one and working your way to larger and faster ones with a slightly varied ability for the PS3 and PSP versions. The computer version has you evolving through levels of play and working your way to defeating all the organisms you are swimming around with until you reach the final lowest level and defeat that critter. Once eaten you will reappear at the highest level in a new form and start your evolution all over again but as a second type of organism.
IN all three version you start as a snake like creature with a burst of speed as your ability and evolve into a jelly like one
That can spin and force other smaller creatures toward it. IN the PC flOw these are the only two creatures you play as but the other console versions have more organisms with other abilities.
Each game has basically the same premise and gameplay but the PS3 and PSP version let you play as more organisms when you reach the end of each section and are reborn. The computer version keeps replaying as a worm or jelly fish like creature while the PS3 and PSP has six creatures with different abilities like speed bursts or cloak.
To eat some of the creatures like the smaller organisms it is a matter of simply swimming up and automatically gobbling down the tiny morsel while eating the larger multi cellular beings requires eating the glowing parts to finally defeat them.
You must turn and twist your organism to get these parts while the other beings are also trying to either get away from you or do their own part of eating to the top of the food chain. You can find a definite style to each type of organism and a different approach to beating them so the game is not all that difficult to beat but it is a nice and quiet almost calming game type.
flOw is one of those simple yet difficult enough games that is simply enjoyable for what it is and not what it could have been. This is the same unique and almost unreachable quality many games try to achieve and so few have over the course of gaming. There are so few rules and you really do not have to read them, you can figure them out from playing that the game is simple enough to pick up and start playing immediately.
The control and what you need to do in the game comes almost without having to know and just swimming around and finding your next meal is fun but evolving and trying to eat all the other organisms is a simple and fun way to spend some time. This is definitely the type of game that will be around for a long time with its simple and easy to master game play and style. It is easy enough to pick up and start playing without having to think much about and is easily one of those top games that make an everlasting impression even though it does not get top scores for a game rating.
Check out flOw for the PC at Jenova Chen’s website or you can download the reasonably priced version for the PS3 and PSP from Sony at their store.