"No matter who you are, what kind of games you play or don't play, flOw is a game designed for you to dive in the zone and lose track of time."
flOw is an early work by art-game designer Jenova Chen, created as an illustration of his MFA thesis research on the psychological concept of "flow" in games.
Just like Jenova Chen's other games, flOw is beautiful and tranquil. The player controls a strange marine creature roaming about in an unlimited space, consuming other surreal creatures to grow, and delving ever deeper into the depths of the abyss. At the very bottom of the abyss lies a mysterious creature, with whom the player will engage in a beautiful but deadly dance of mutual consumption.
As per the concept of "flow", the game is neither too relaxed nor too tense. As a matter of fact, the embedded dynamic difficulty adjustment in the game has the aim of making the game "addicting" to anyone, regardless of skill level.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that flOw is now an award-winning title available on the PS3, with its spiritual sequel, flOwer, recently released.
flOw is comprised of "levels" of the abyss. Eating a red glowing orb causes the player-controlled creature to dive deeper into the abyss, and eating the blue glowing orb pulls the creature closer to the light of the surface.
There are all manners of creatures, each made of segments of glowing orbs. Consuming all glowing orbs on a creature will disintegrate its bodily form entirely. The resulting free-roaming orbs may be consumed by any creature for growth.
flOw offers unhurried, but addicting gameplay. The player may take as long as is desirable to thoroughly explore the limitless void and to grow, or dive straight into the savage underwater foodchain. Regardless of the player's choice, the game will adjust itself to suit the player's taste.
There is no end to the game. Once the player consumes the mysterious creature that dwells deep within the abyss, the soul orb causes the player creature to enter the next cycle of being, resurfacing as an entirely new creature, who behaves differently than the first and views the World through a different lens. Unlike so many other games, the beauty of flOw lies in the experience, not where one gets at the end.
True to Jenova Chen's thesis statement, flOw offers an unhurried, relaxed, but by no means boring experience. Difficulty is adjusted dynamically and undetectably, allowing complete detachment from any concept of "goals" and full immersion into the experience of the game itself.
While flOw is a title that one may return to from time to time, it is rare for a player to play through the game more than once or twice in a short period of time. Think of flOw more as a piece of art than as a game - viewing the same masterpiece painting over and over again in a short amount of time will eventually drain the subliminal effect of the piece, but returning to it once in a while will always yield something fresh.
Great complement to the beautiful visuals.
1. The beginning of a game of flOw. The title and the credits are beautifully integrated into the gameplay itself.
2 and 3: No descriptions. I will leave it to the players to find out where each screenshot occurs.