412th played so far

flow-game-screenshot-1Genre: Life Simulation
Platform: Internet
Year of Release: 2006
Developer: Thatgamecompany
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

We have, as you may remember, been raving about the past two games by Thatgamecompany. Flower was a magical journey, using the simplest of controls to create an amazing world that was beautiful and at times still threatening (it made me cry). Journey was amazing, in creating a social game that could only be positive, telling a story through pictograms and environments (this also made me cry).

Flow is their first game, derived from a university project by the company’s founder Jenova Chen. Although the original was an internet flash game, we played the slightly expanded Playstation Network version. In this version there was a slight graphic improvement and the addition of another fish type.

Our Thoughts

Flower, looking at this now, is clearly a sequel to this game. Not in graphics or visible themes, but in the core of gameplay. As in that game, you take your basic form (here the start of a worm-like creature) and grow it slowly by gathering elements from the environment. Here, though, evolution comes in, as a lot of your more special and nice-looking bodyparts are taken by defeating other creatures floating around the endless sea. After ‘completing’ as the worm thing you can try out as a jellyfish (with a spin attack) and a fish (that is basically useless).

The way to progress is to dive deeper into the sea, where there are bigger creatures to defeat and more colourful bits to gather, with the goal to get to the lowest level and defeat a creature (whose form you can then take on).

The simple visual design, together with unique musical design inspired by your surroundings, makes for a unique integrated experience. The sound responds to the gameplay so fluently, growing with your creature. It’s something we found in Flower as well, but the simpler graphics enhance that feeling far more.

Final Thoughts

On the whole this game, like its name, just flows incredibly well (I hope that pun was not intended). Drifting from layer to layer, occasional moments of actions punctuating your creature’s growth. While the basic concept may have been used with more impressive graphics later in Flower, Flow‘s simplicity gives it its own contemplative, quiet angle. In the end, it’s a wonderful experience