I find it difficult to talk about That Game Company because that’s exactly what they’re called. You incorporate it into a sentence and people just assume you’re talking about some specific company that has yet to be named, but that’s just it, that’s what they’re called. I would tell people to not worry about it, or to just move on, but I can’t help but shake the feeling that there’s a better phrase to use here. A phrase such as “just go with the flOw?”
I know, I know, but I had to do it. Okay, now that the requisite joke involving the game’s title is over, we can dive right in. That Game Company is responsible for making several outstanding experiences on the PS3. With Flower and Journey being their most recent endeavors, flOw sits comfortably as the foundation of their evolution. That joke was a little more in depth, recognizable only if you played the game. Once you get a little further into the review, you’ll get the joke and be like “heh.”
So, flOw is a simple game with no real challenge or punishment for death, much like That Game Company’s other titles. It is an experience more than anything, and it has a captivating method of pulling you in and never letting go. Now that flOw is on the PS4, it’s time to see what the transition has brought us, and how the game stands the test of time, now that it’s brothers have been let loose into the wild.
No Story but the one you make
FlOw doesn’t offer you any reason for your actions, which is to say that you won’t see any cutscenes narrated by Morgan Freeman about how this little creature is simply trying to survive in a strange world. Much as I would like that, the game gives you only a beautiful soundtrack and unique visuals and throw you in. Before we get into the technical aspects of flOw, I’d like to discuss the nature of it’s structure.
In flOw, you are simply given instructions and then tossed into a world brimming with other life forms. As you swim around this watery and mysterious place, you find that you can consume smaller creatures, and even bigger ones if you are smart about it. As you devour this other things, you evolve (there’s the joke from the beginning) and become larger and more grand looking. The first creature you play as begins as something resembling a snake and ends looking like a graceful water dragon that barely fits on the screen.
Without telling us a single thing, the developers tap into our very instincts. The second you realize you can eat, grow stronger, and delve deeper, that’s when the pieces come together. This sense of wonder and discovery happens multiple times as you unlock all manner of interesting creatures to evolve with. The game only runs around a few hours, but you have the option to go back and replay the levels are anyone of the six creatures available. There’s also an expansion available that adds a new creature, the ability to play as two different creatures in multiplayer, as well as new enemies and food types.
FlOw controls very well on the PS4. You can tell that the improved Dualshock 4’s sixaxis does a great job of reading your movements. By tilting the controller, you can steer you creature towards, or away from others in the environment around you. With anything it takes some time to get used to it, but I found myself ducking and dodging before I knew it. The only other element to the controls is the press of a single button. Any button will do, and it activates your special move if you will.
The first creature for example can do a dash attack. The second does a spin move, and so on. These can always be activated by pushing a single button of your choice. As you eat and devour smaller creatures, you’ll regain health as represented by glowing orbs in your body. This is also the spots to attack on your foes. When they perish, they release small three-pronged creatures along with other food. The three-pronged creatures when eaten, progress your evolution so they’re quite important. Later in each creature’s campaign, you can eat this sea anemone type creatures which turn you red and give you increased strength and attack power.
Should you “die” the only punishment is that you move up one level and must eat to regain your strength. It’s only a small speed bump and you’re back into the action before you know it. No challenge here means that the game is fairly easy, but it’s also relaxing. Any fans of That Game Company will know what to expect here. For everyone else, keep in mind that it’s simple, and fun. Dark Souls this is not.
That Game Company has always had a special way of presenting their games with style and incredible music. FlOw is no exception. The graphics bring soft and serene shades of blue, pink, green, and everything is presented in 1080p resolution with sixty frames per second gameplay on PS4. It flows, for lack of a better word, with clarity and beauty. The creature designs are simple shapes and lines that become more complex as they grow. Each design is reminiscent of others, but nothing feels like a direct clone.
The Final Verdict
Overall, flOw brings a simple, but poignant style of graphics and soft, soothing music. This, combined with the intentionally simple but addictive gameplay means that you’ll be spending only a few hours to play through it, but you’ll want to come back later just to unwind. I would also recommend the expansion to give you some extra content and the ability to play two player with separate creatures. It’s not for everyone, but if you just need to relax and take a load off, flOw will be happy to oblige.
Final Score: 8/10
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date: 01/10/2014