FLOW
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Hardware: WEB-BASED
Format: WEB-BASED
Ports: PLAYSTATION 3, PLAYSTATION PORTABLE
Genre: ACTION (2D)
Released: APRIL 14, 2006
Publisher: THATGAMECOMPANY
Developer: THATGAMECOMPANY

By Joshua Farrelly / January 10, 2011

In Flow you control an organism by steering it with the mouse pointer and clicking to speed it up. The goal is to swim around in a looping layer of fluid eating other organisms and cells to power up, avoiding the mouths of other organisms, and descending further into the ocean.

It's totally unremarkable. The controls are a little too loose. The scrolling has a problem with centering the player (it can even lose track of him completely). The design is a double whammy of crudeness and imbalance (think of Pac-Man consisting of no mazes, mostly dots, very few ghosts, no scoring, and little punishment or reward). The graphics are just circles and a couple of lines, and scenario development means a slightly darker background. The music is just a couple of random tones.

Some people call it a masterpiece. I wonder if these people would say the same after playing Mary Kate and Ashley: Winner's Circle for the Game Boy Color. The design is of a similar caliber, but the graphic designers were competent enough to try to represent things as complex as horses and bushes, and the musicians were talented enough to arrange notes into melodies and then melodies into compositions. According to the critical standards of these people, this game would be even better than a masterpiece. Fortunately their standards haven't caught on, as it would mean the bar would be set so low that criticism itself would become meaningless outside the function of a circle jerk.

Even among Flash games (i.e. games so basic the only excuse to play them as a human who values their limited life force is if there are no other options available) it is nothing special. A similar game called Fishy is slightly better as it has more stuff to dodge, scoring, and a song, and that game is just a shooter with loose controls, bad patterns, and no shooting, not to mention the audiovisual deficiencies.

Anyway if you're in the mood for a simple game with simple graphics, you might want to try something that's also well designed like Soukoban, Lode Runner, Solomon no Kagi, or Wonder Boy. If you want a really relaxing game that doesn't require much thought or reflexes I'd recommend trying out a good DVD. They only require a handful of button presses to operate and the audiovisuals will be much more stimulating than circles and tones.
  

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