fl0w PSN Review
Right off the bat I will admit fl0w is a difficult game to review. There is literally no story to speak of and in turn there is no plot to write about. There are no menus, no start screen, no HUD, and no lifebar. It offers the most basic of tilt controls and graphics which hardly push limits of the half-a-grand machine you just bought. The game seems to lack almost all of the features that most people would choose to list if they were asked to define a video game. As such, while comparing it directly to precedents the industry has set for itself there is very little to like about the title but somehow, in some way the game rises above all of that and the sum of all its small – almost insignificant – parts becomes a joy to play… or should I say a joy to experience.
Gameplay sees you controlling a collection of microscopic amoeba-esque blobs through underwater depths in an effort to search for other lifeforms as food to eat. Controlling the creatures is very simple and it is done easily by tilting the Playstation 3’s Sixaxis controller in the direction that the creature should swim. In terms of gameplay, fl0w could be simply classed as ‘Pac Man at sea’ but all things considered it is so much more than that. As you eat more of the blobs the lifeform you’re controlling grows and in turn that lets you easily eat any of the bigger life forms near you. You actually don’t have to be bigger than a lifeform to eat it but you will find the bigger ones put up quite a bit of a fight if you are significantly smaller… meaning you will have to target certain parts of them first to wear them down. The game is laid out in such a way that everything you eat adds in some way to your lifeform; making it bigger or slightly changing its colour. Music is also tied to everything you do in the game letting you build the music in a Lumines or Rez style, depending on what you do in the game. It is this well thought out process that makes the game so entertaining to play as you advance and make your lifeform grow from humble beginnings into something of mammoth proportions… well as mammoth as a microscopic lifeform can be!
There are six creatures available to play but only one is available right at the start – a snake-like form – the rest are made available when you finish each of the other creatures’ environments. All of the creatures are similarly controlled with the Sixaxis but an added feature is that they all have their own distinct special move – performed by pressing any button on the pad. The snake’s special ability is a boost which makes him go faster for a few seconds. Following creatures such as the Jelly and Manta have different specials like spinning to create a suction effect to attract nearby life forms.
Visually all of the different life forms are very different from each other and evolve in a highly unique fashion. They also all have a different coloured environment from their predecessor with different lifeforms to meet. Speaking of environments, these also play a huge part in how the game works. Each of the lifeforms starts on the surface of the water with a nice bright background, as they dive down (by eating one of the piece of red food) the water starts to get darker and as you keep going down through the level it gets darker and darker till it is almost black. It is a very simple touch but all adds to the above features to make fl0w such a unique title to play.
It’s hard to recommend fl0w to all gamers out there – in fact I’ll return to the first paragraph of this review to reiterate that it is more an experience than a simple game. If you just bought your PS3 for the multi-layered graphical panache the likes of Motorstorm exude then what fl0w brings to the table most likely won’t appeal to you. On the other hand if any of the words in this review spark your interest in the game then I urge you to at least give the game a go – £3.49 is hardly going to break the bank for anyone.
Of course you could always just play the original, basic, bare-bones edition here if tilt control and HD graphics are not your thing.
Infinitely greater than the sum of its parts.