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    dkirschner's Flow (PS4)

    [December 30, 2019 04:50:59 PM]
    My first PS4 completion on my brand new used system! I played Flow yesterday morning because I was up before my brother and mom at her house and didn't want to wake everyone up with Bloodborne. A nice, quiet, relaxing game would be better, I thought. I didn't really know what to expect; I haven't played any of thatgamecompany's games (criminal, I know, but I'll get to Flower and Journey soon).

    Flow immediately reminded me of other "eat things and grow bigger" games like the incomparable Osmos. It's beautiful and sounds great (relaxing, right?) and the movement is simple and fluid with the motion tilt on the PS4's controller. Fortunately, the game is short because it sure gets dull quickly. Each level and each character are essentially the same thing and there is no variation in what you do.

    You take control first of a "snake" creature underwater. Eat smaller creatures to get longer (this is visually mesmerizing), and then eat the red blob to descend to the next level in the ocean. It's neat that you can eat the blue blob to go back up, going up and down as much as you please. I did this a couple times when there was an annoying enemy (go back up to eat some more creatures and get stronger or go down to skip it), but I accidentally ate the blue or red blobs 20 other times and changed levels when I didn't want to. Eventually you will encounter enemies who can eat you. You never die, but rather go back up a level when you get eaten. Levels are small and take just a few minutes to clear, so this is no big deal.

    Once you reach the last ocean level, there is a teleporter thing that warps you back to the beginning, where you are given a new creature, one that you have seen, to play with. Each new creature has some kind of ability setting it apart from others. There's one that turns green, and if you eat (part of) another creature while green, it turns green too and slows down. If you eat it while green, then all the little organisms it spawns upon death are green, and if other enemies eat those, then THEY turn green. That was probably my favorite. Another creature lets you repel others; another gives you big bursts of speed; and so on.

    By the third creature (of 5), I was looking on the internet to see how much more there was because the game was feeling very repetitive and I was bored. I powered through and easily beat it. The credits are neat. I later learned that the game was released in 2006, which makes my problems with it somewhat meaningless. This was probably ridiculously impressive in 2006, evident by its history. I look forward to Flower, and then Journey in the future.

    One other random story to note: I picked up a copy of Ian Bogost's How to Do Things with Videogames and had been reading it just a few days before. In a chapter on relaxation, he offers a brief analysis of Flow, pointing out that the game is not relaxing (you chase things around to eat them while risking being eaten by them) despite it's beautiful visuals and music. I found this to be true (boredom also came), and it got me thinking about other games that have promised to be low key and relaxing but are not. Or rather, it got me thinking even more broadly about games that coast on unique audio-visual style and polish, but are not much more than that. I'm thinking recently of Little Nightmares. I had to play it when I saw it, but it really wasn't very good, a sub-par 2D puzzle platformer mechanically. After that game is when I learned my lesson: Don't buy a game just because the art looks cool!
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    dkirschner's Flow (PS4)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Sunday 29 December, 2019

    GameLog closed on: Sunday 29 December, 2019

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Nice enough, pretty and good audio. Gameplay is repetitive.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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