Developers: Thatgamecompany, SuperVillian Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: April 14th, 2006 (PC), March 23rd, 2007 (Ps3), March 6th, 2008 (PsP), December 17th, 2013 (Ps4 & Vita)
Available on: PC, Playstation 3, Playstation Portable, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita
Reviewer’s note: I played this game on the Playstation 4, though I also played the PC version. I’ll note the differences in the review.
Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to Flow. Using as few buttons on the controller as possible and having very simple gameplay, Flow is a short and pretty zen-like adventure through the life of some cell-like organisms.
You can play as one of six different creatures, all of which go through various levels trying to reach an egg at the end. You control the creature simply by tilting the controller, which will cause them to go in that direction. If you hit any button on the controller you’ll activate the creature’s special ability. Each creature has a different ability. The snake-like creature you have at the beginning has a boost, but later you can get one that turns invisible and another that charges at enemies. That’s actually as complicated as the controls get, so you don’t need to worry about anything else. While at first I hated the motion controls and wished they had put in analog controls instead, after about 15 minutes I got pretty used to them and didn’t mind. It’s a good thing I got used to them quickly too, since the game only lasted about an hour and a half before it was over. This is not one for the long run.
All you have to do in Flow is eat the creatures and enemies on each layer, then eat a red creature to go down a layer or a blue one to go up. You actually don’t even need to eat other creatures if you want to try and avoid them for instead. As long as you get to the bottom and eat the egg, the game isn’t really concerned with how you do this. You eat things simply by swimming over them, so most fights are based around dodging the enemies’ mouth while hitting them with yours. You don’t have to be worried about death because if you get hit enough times you just get sent up a layer. This makes the game pretty forgiving as there’s no actual way to lose the game.
Though challenge isn’t really the point of Flow. It’s meant to be a relaxing game rather than a challenging one. This is a game you’re supposed to lean back and get sucked into instead of competing with other players. It actually makes the game co-op stick out like a sore thumb. You can play with up to 4 other players, but this is the first time I felt like a game actually doesn’t work for that. It’s better to play this one alone. This way you can get into the game’s soothing soundtrack and clean graphics to enjoy it much more.
It’s worth noting that there’s some pretty important differences between the PC version and the Playstation versions. The PC version is completely free (You can find it here!) while the Playstation versions cost $5.99 (Though buying one gets you all.) On the other hand the Playstation version looks much better, has more playable creatures, and has the special abilities that the PC version lacks. You can sort of treat the PC version as a demo of the Playstation version, but if you had to pick one I’d recommend the Playstation version as it’s the more complete game.
There’s not much else to Flow. It’s short, sweet, and to the point. It doesn’t do much and it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. To me it hit it’s goals of being relaxing, at least once I got the controls down, and I’m pretty happy I spent my time on it. If you could use a game where you want to just sit back and relax then you may want to consider Flow.