|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: thatgamecompany||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SCEA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 22, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
flOw is not just any game. It's part of a psychology experiment that attempts to demonstrate how something that is challenging enough will keep a human occupied, whereas when something is too easy to accomplish, the interest will be replaced by anxiety and boredom. Jenova Chen and Nicholas Clark designed and developed this game with Macromedia Flash and hosted it on the Internet as a free download. The game became incredibly popular and successful in little time, mostly because of its interesting design, unique idea, and effect on players.
This game has been redesigned and redeveloped by thatgamecompany and published by SCEA in the Sony Store. Thanks to the use of the Sixaxis motion-sensitive capabilities and the incredible graphic output of the Sony PS3, this game maintains its appeal, even at $7.99.
When you start the game, you will see a scenario that looks like the outer space or even more like the deep ocean. Before you know it, you'll be handling an underwater being that looks like a fishbone and moves like an eel. You will be confused at first, but you will quickly learn that moving, tilting, and twisting the controller is all there is to it. You can actually press some buttons to speed up the creature, but other than that the controls are rather simple, although they do have a brief learning curve.
As you move the creature around the screen, you will have to feed it with other smaller beings that are swimming close by. At first it reminded me a little bit of the classic Snake game, because the more creatures you eat, the longer and stronger your character will get. But it's more complicated than that. You will find small, jellyfish-like beings that will give you strength, tiny squids that will give you fins (or something like that), and also red and blue orbs. The game seems to be structured in different levels of complexity. The deeper you swim, just like in the ocean, the more dangers you will encounter. If you are closer to the surface, the situation won't be as dangerous, but also, you won't find as many creatures you can eat. Red orbs will transport you deeper into the waters and the blue orb beings will help you come back up. If your creature is well fed and you feel it's strong enough, you should go ahead and swim to the lower and darker levels, so you can become stronger. However, other creatures that look just like you await down there, and you will need to bite them a few times before you eat them completely. Of course, they are there for the same reason as you and will also try to gobble you first. You will lose fins and length in the process, so be prepared to escape from them and eat a blue orb if it's necessary to travel back one level. Other dangerous creatures will curl up like a snake and will suck up your powers if you're not careful. They have several orbs within them that you have to gulp down in order to destroy them. If you're successful, those creatures will transform into several little squids and jellyfishes that will glide around and, if you munch them, help you grow stronger.
flOw has an open-ended gameplay and the amount of hours you will remain entertained depends on your abilities with the Sixaxis tilt controls and your level of addiction. After a while, the game will get redundant, there won't be any new species around that you can attack, and your water-being will be at its best. That's when you can say the game ended. However, the hypnotizing powers of the game might still keep you there, until you realize that you feel kind of dizzy and sleepy. It's amazing how the "flow" of this game and the soothing music can be so relaxing you might even lose track of time. When you "wake up," you might not go back to that game for a long time, but it will still be the perfect showpiece for your PS3, as it will keep interested people that normally wouldn't even dare to get close to a gaming machine. flOw has a two-player mode, but it doesn't add much to the game, other than the possibility of sharing it with someone when you're both bored
The graphics are so simple, yet sharp and smooth at the same time. The physics combination of what you see on the display and the way you handle it with the controller is just perfect. Tilt the controller to your liking and the character will follow your commands. Throughout the game, you will only see blue and white elements on the screen, with punches of red and green when things are getting dangerous. The game is that simple. The music contributes to the mesmerizing effects of this game, with smooth, tranquil, and harmonized melodies that seem to lead your creature and follow its steps. Subtle sound effects that craftily merge with the music will warn you of the dangers that surround you and will accompany your motions when you grab a bite.
Nothing else can be said about this game, really. It will provide you with a relaxing and somewhat strange experience that no other game offers. It looks great on the PS3 and will impress (and maybe hypnotize) your visitors when they come over. The price is right for the kind of game this is and it has many advantages over the flash version, like the beautiful graphics and the innovative controls, plus you will be able to share it with other people, unlike the computer version which is more of an individual experience. It's your choice!
CCC Co-Site Director