flOw (PlayStation 3) review
"I am struggling to come up with a game category in which to accurately place Flow and the more I think about it the less I believe that Flow is really a game at all. It is more of an experience I guess; released during the infancy of the Playstation 3 to give us an idea of what the machine is capable of. It isn’t graphically astounding and it hardly pushes the system to its limits but perhaps it was designed with another reason in mind; to demonstrate that the Playstation 3 doesn’t want to fol..."
I am struggling to come up with a game category in which to accurately place Flow and the more I think about it the less I believe that Flow is really a game at all. It is more of an experience I guess; released during the infancy of the Playstation 3 to give us an idea of what the machine is capable of. It isn’t graphically astounding and it hardly pushes the system to its limits but perhaps it was designed with another reason in mind; to demonstrate that the Playstation 3 doesn’t want to follow the same path as previous games consoles, that entertainment is evolving and there are new avenues out there to explore if we are willing to give them a try. Then again I might well be over analysing the situation and this was just quick and easy filler for an otherwise empty PSN store.
Either way this was my first PSN download and on the day I unwrapped my Playstation 3 I was keen to give anything a try. I cannot remember exactly how much I paid for Flow back then but with hindsight it was probably a lot more than it is worth. Don’t get me wrong, as a one off the game (I shall continue to call it that for want of a better word) is different enough from anything I have seen before that I did play it through to the end. I cannot honestly say that I have returned to it since, however, and feel I would have been better served if this was a free demo. After all I had just spent a large sum of money on the system itself, a few freebies on the store early on is hardly a great deal to ask for.
Anyway, back to business. The game puts you in control of what can only be described as a micro-organism (the sort of thing you might expect to find floating around in the sea if you magnified things a lot) which you can make “swim” around the screen by tilting the Sixaxis controller. Steer your organism into any of the other organisms floating about the screen and you will “eat” them. You organism will then begin to evolve. If you steer into the red cursor then you will dive to a deeper level and if you steer into the blue cursor then you will rise up a level. The deeper you travel the more advanced the species of organisms floating around will become. Eat enough of these and you will change species yourself. By then end of the game you will have experienced six different species and on subsequent plays through you can choose your favourite from the start.
As I mentioned earlier the graphics are not stunning. The feeling of being underwater, however, is quite realistic and there is something quite artistic about the evolution of your organism. In combination with the choral soundtrack this is almost like an exercise in meditation, a console version of a relaxation tape perhaps. I am not saying I recommend buying this by any stretch of the imagination but I somehow can’t bring myself to slate it as badly as I thought I was going to. I like to imagine this game will work in a similar way to those concept cars we never manage to get to drive. Perhaps the fact that it is out there will influence game developers to try out a new direction in the future. Then again we could always have more first person shooters.
Community review by OrpheusUK (April 14, 2008)
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