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Luke Mitchell
02 Nov, 2007

PSN flOw Review

PS3 Review | Just go with it.
A game like flOw is always a sort of risk, because despite its beauty and intrigue, when it comes down to it, it’s not really much of a game at all; it’s an experience and an experiment. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and upon loading the game up, there is indeed something mesmerizing about the way it’s designed, and we applaud Sony for releasing a game of such simplicity as one of its first exclusive releases onto the PlayStation Network.

Upon starting the game, you are given some simple instructions on how to play the game. You move around by tilting the six-axis in whatever direction pleases you and you press a button if you want a little boost. Apart from that, there is the option to pause the game and a note that if other people want to switch on another six-axis, you can play co-operatively and swim around together. They’re very simple instructions because it’s a very simple game. Anything more complicated would take away from the friendly nature of an experience of this type.

All you have to do to progress in flOw is move your little fish-like creature around towards other little fish-like creatures to eat them. As you eat them, changes are made to your own little fish-like creature, and he continuously involves into something bigger and more interesting to look at. Eating specific objects will let you swim backwards into another layer of water where there are different types of creatures to eat and evolve with, and so the game continues on that way.


It's very odd...

It's very odd...
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After playing for a couple of minutes and swimming around with the six-axis, controlling your creature will be second-nature, and evolution will happen much more quickly as you get into a rhythm of eating certain creatures to evolve in certain ways. There are even other creatures that you can become who have different ways of moving around the screen – while the first creature you are given can boost a little bit with the push of a button, another one perform a sort of spin attack. There are 6 different types of creatures and once you’ve played the game for a while, you’ll be able to go back and choose to be any one of them.

The key to this game is the exploration and the desire to see what creatures you’re going to come across next, and then see what they are going to evolve you into once you’ve eaten them. It can become quite fun experimenting with different combinations of creatures, as they all add something different to your little organism, making it all the more unique. In this sense, the game is different every time you play it, as you’re likely to experiment with different things at different times.

In terms of presentation, Sony has well and truly nailed it. The game is an absolute pleasure to be a part of, with plenty of little organisms swimming around happily in a smooth manner, and with a very simplistic graphical style that is extremely basic, yet at the same time utterly mesmerizing. There is no way that you can ‘die’ in this game, but if some health is depleted you will simply swim backwards a couple of layers so that you can eat and build up your strength again.


...yet so beautiful to watch.

...yet so beautiful to watch.
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It’s a great little game, there’s no doubt about it, but once you’ve played through it a couple of times, there’s not much else you can really do. There’s not really a clear sense of challenge, as there is no penalty for getting hit, just as there is nothing wrong with coasting from layer to layer without eating anything at all. Without any ‘requirements’, the game is lowered to a form that is just an experimentation, rather than a gameplay experience that you’re likely to come back to again and again.

flOw is something a little different, that’s for sure. While it certainly won’t appeal to all the shooter fans out there, it’s something that’s so nice to watch and the perfect thing to come home and unwind to after a busy day at the office. It’s overly simplistic, and so after one or two plays through it you’ve basically done everything that there is to do, but at such a low price, one cannot expect an epic and complicated video-game experience. flOw tries to do something entirely unique and experimental, and on that level, it succeeds.
The Score
flOw is a nice little game, and if you have a few dollars sitting in your PlayStation Store wallet, then it’s definitely worth having a look. A very calming and intriguing experience, but unfortunately nothing substantial to keep you coming back for more. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related PSN flOw Content

PlayStation Store updated
01 Apr, 2007 Go with the flOw.
flOw gets dated for PS3
05 Dec, 2006 Sony signs up students behind game.
XBLA 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures Review
02 Nov, 2007 Minigolf on the XBLA... a match made in heaven?
3 Comments
6 years ago
I first heard about flOw early last year, it was a free project created by some students at the University of California. For anyone interested in checking it out who don't have a PS3, there's a PC version available:

http://intihuatani.usc.edu/cloud/flowing/core.html

It's free, but I think the PS3 version has been spruced up a bit. It can get pretty challenging in some of the harder levels, but nothing an hour or two of attempting can't get past. Still, was alot of fun seeing the evolution of your little guy each time!
6 years ago
I could lose days playing that game. Now I want a PS3.
6 years ago
There is an expansion pack planned for release in November / December (according to ThreeSpeech).

flOw is fantastic and a great change of pace.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Publisher:
  Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer:
  thatgamecompany
Players:
  1

Read more...
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