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flOw (PSP) artwork

flOw (PSP) review

"In an era of gaming when first person shooters like Call of Duty 4, Gears of War and Halo seem to dominate the market. A game like flOw comes around to give us a pat on the shoulder and says, "relax, nobody's trying to kill you." "

In an era of gaming when first person shooters like Call of Duty 4, Gears of War and Halo seem to dominate the market. A game like flOw comes around to give us a pat on the shoulder and says, "relax, nobody's trying to kill you."

In flOw, you control one of 5 types of organisms that you will evolve in form and size by eating other little organisms and larger organisms cores. Each type has it's own special move which is accessable by pressing any button on the PSP. These abilities include a spearing movement for quick escapes, a homing spearing movement, a spinning movement that will lure lesser organisms into your grasp, and an ability that will let you feed your cores to other creatures to sedate them, and then briefly consume their illuminated cores. As you pac-man gobble up all the orbs of greater creatures and all the little single cell organisms, you'll watch your organism grow in real time. When you eat something, you'll see it flash through each part of your creature's body. And as the cell is consumed, you'll hear piano-esque musical queues chiming along. You'll eat cells with red arrows on them to descend further into the stage where more creatures await the jaws of life. And by the time you reach the bottom, you can bask in the glory of your (hopefully) fullly fledged creature as the next creature type becomes unlocked.

It's hard to describe the emotional feeling this game gives to the player, so you'll have to play it yourself. But if anything it felt to me that I was in some distant underwater world. That I was reenacting the cycle of the single cell organism bringing itself into the light of what is greater in the universe, by eating everything in sight... by performing the basic function of evolution. I dare say it made me feel a little bit primordial. flOw is about relaxing, taking a breather, enjoying the scenery. It's like going for a walk on a sunny day, when the breeze is right. Or going for a walk when the rain is falling lightly. Note, I am using exaggeration to express my appreciation for this little game.

It's a different experience all together, and thatgamecompany has gone ahead to label the kind of experience their games emulate as "core" games. Games that "are easier and less time consuming, yet possess emotionally rich and powerful interactive experiences."

When I sit down to play flOw, I don't have the same feeling as I do when I sit down to play any other type of game. Typically in gaming, the player has objectives and incentives to complete tasks often in an effecient manner. You have reward, a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment, new items to gain, new gear, new power ups, etc. But when I play flOw, the emphasis is somewhere else. Sometimes I'll let my creature move on its own, or I'll just glide slowly through the water, examining the design on my creature up to that point. It's those little moments which flOw owns its authenticity. To go off on a tangent, I could compare it to the overworld in Shadow of the Colossus. A deserted holy land of light that is a bedazzlement to the eyes and to the player to take part within. To tread slowly with your horse, panning the camera towards the sky where the cliff terrace is hitting the sun, then panning it to the left where a shadowy path leads into a forest alcove. flOw's experience is a bit more intangible comparing it in this regard. But it's definetely worth checking out, and supporting, for that matter. For $8 bucks, it's hard to go wrong.

I say if you're looking for a breather away from high action games, or games that are just too stimulating or strenuous on your mind, try flOw. Have an open mind to the calmness the game will bring you, the experience, as it isn't at all like those types of games mentioned. The guy who reviewed flOw on IGN suggested playing the game before going to sleep, and I've tried this myself and it seemed to work out well. I recommend getting comfortable when you sit down with this one with your PSP.

On a side note, for stoners: this game is very friendly to you, and only deepens the absorbing experience of sweeping your creature through the depths, haphazardly or drunkenly, bitterly or calmly nibbling little ones untill the time is right to advance for bigger game... to feel the hunger of your kind to grow out beautifully.

On a double side note, for flOw'ites: There is a kind of rip off of flOw on XBox Live Arcade called Feeding Frenzy. I played this briefly and was generally amused by how much it takes from, and seems to mock the design of flOw. I actually was a little bit charmed by it, to be honest.

flOw glides in...

Aquas's avatar
Community review by Aquas (March 30, 2008)

Aquas is an STG fanatic, score-chaser and arcade lover. He hosts the Shooting Game Weekly on Youtube, a show that goes in depth on various shmups with passionate fans of the genre. Favorite video game: EarthBound.

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