flOw – A lesson in how not to relax

Looking to bolster my stock of PS4 games I went on the search, an internet search to be precise, doing the usual thing of checking out what people thought the best game was and listening to podcasts to get the inside scoop on what the industry thinks. One of the games that just kept coming up over and over again was Flower, a supposedly beautiful example of the PS4’s graphics and a nice mellow experience to counter the otherwise hectic and frustrating games that take up most of my shelf. From the offset it just did not look like a game that I could get into, I mean a slow paced, seemingly boring game where I can chill out? I can lay on the bed and do nothing, if I really want to chill out. However, I told myself to give it a go anyway and, following on from my new years resolution to try different games, I ventured onto the PSN store to buy it, only that flOw was cheaper, so I got flOw instead.

Now don’t worry, I checked up on flOw as well, and while it’s made by the same studio and seemingly offers the same low paced chill fest as Flower, it came with a more reasonable price tag of £3.99, which made it all the more appealing plus, as it turns out, I would have been pissed off if I wasted any more on ‘these’ types of games …

For those unaware of flOw, it comes from Thatgamecompany who are also behind the aforementioned Flower and also their latest title Journey, which has been getting 9s across the board. So with a massive amount of  praise around, it’s kind of strange that I found flOw to be so mind numbingly boring and frustrating.

The aim of the game is very simple, you are what I can only describe as some sort of germ moving around eating smaller particles or trying to avoid bigger creatures. Much like snake, once you have digested various objects you become larger and much more capable of taking on the bigger foes. You can dive deeper through levels to continue or come back up at any time to find anything you may have missed, and that’s about it. There are a variety of playable characters, if you could call them that, but any new ones I unlocked just seemed to be worse than the original. With no real aims or goals (beyond diving deeper and deeper down), I quickly found myself being incredible bored of the whole thing instead of getting the whole ‘chilled out’ vibe that I had heard so much about.

Lack of excitement aside, the control system was really the biggest issue for me and led to the bitter taste in my mouth, that you may be picking up. Now before I say anymore, I have been playing flOw on the PS4 and totally understand that it may be different on other consoles. In fact I spoke to a colleague who had played it on the Vita and had a very different view to me, but I digress. My decision is based how the game interacted with me and vice versa, and like I mentioned the control system was most definitely the final nail in the coffin. So what are they? Well flOw on the PS4 is exclusively controlled by the motion sensors in the controller meaning you have to tilt the bloody thing around to move. On a game the requires relatively precise movements the tilt controls are just completely out of place, creating an air of frustration that remained constantly in the back of my mind whilst playing the game

I found it surprising that a game so renowned for its relaxed feel and total juxtaposition to most modern games could actually annoy me more than all the RTS grinding I have ever done. But then, maybe that’s the point. I would say that this game would appeal to a great many people out there but annoy the hell out of many more. At £3.99 it is certainly cheap as chips and if you like trophies, I’m sure that they would not be the most taxing to find. For me, it would have been fixed with a simple option to change controls to the stick and who knows, maybe that was all the difference I needed.

Developer: Thatgamecompany, SuperVillain Studios
Games 
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PS3, PS4, PS Vita, PC
Genre: Life Simulator

  • Michael Scoates

    I’ve learned over the years that ‘games journalists’ LOVE writing about quick and easy games because they don’t involve having to write a 1500 word review after 80 hours of play crammed into 5 working days. I think that’s the main reason so many short games get so much exposure, they’re a lot easier to write about than, say, having to do a review of an MMO or RPG.

    Cheers for the warning rather than waxing profusely about how great it is 🙂

  • Michael Scoates

    I’ve learned over the years that ‘games journalists’ LOVE writing about quick and easy games because they don’t involve having to write a 1500 word review after 80 hours of play crammed into 5 working days. I think that’s the main reason so many short games get so much exposure, they’re a lot easier to write about than, say, having to do a review of an MMO or RPG.

    Cheers for the warning rather than waxing profusely about how great it is 🙂