A rags to riches story for the next generation, as flash game favourite ‘flOw’ gets touched up for a release on the PS3 online network.
Originally created by Jenova Chen as part of a thesis research at the USC Interactive Media Division, the game displayed uniquely artistic visuals, a fitting ambient soundtrack and dynamic difficulty adjustment relevant to the skill level of the player. In the first 2 weeks following release, it saw around 350,000 downloads and has subsequently achieved recognition such as ‘Internet Game of the Month‘ in the May 2006 EDGE magazine.
This caught the attention of ‘thatgamecompany’, whose approach is all about providing different, experimentally creative games to tap new audiences.
The actual game sees the player taking control of an, at first, tiny aquatic organism moving freely to the direction the mouse dictates through a seemingly ever expansive two dimensional world, the object being to consume other organisms in the pursuit of evolving your worm like creature. Some creatures will be harmlessly eaten, others defend themselves.
In essence, it sounds like ‘Snake’ with an artistic overhaul, and I suppose in essence that is what it is. But to play it is truly the only way to experience it. Being dropped into the experience, without knowing what you’re doing, what all the little visually distinctive creatures mean, yet watching how your avatar organism evolves differently each time is half the charm. It’s rare for a modern game to leave the player to explore and evolve on their terms, rather than a more formulaic approach where the player is eased in via tutorials; ‘flOw’ is ultimately simple but deceptively deep.
The ambient, artistically immersive atmosphere conjures up memories of sleeper hits ‘Vib Ribbon’ for the Playstation and Rez for the Playstation 2.
Enhanced visuals for the PS3 version promise to take the experience a step further; screens and movies for the game are simply beautiful without even remotely pushing the potential of next-gen graphics. A most exciting prospect is that this simple flash game will be the first PS3 title to make use of the motion sensing controller; tilt the controller to move, press the X button to speed up.
If you missed it, a trailer is available on the site right here: http://www.psu.com/node/7476 .
Possibly too simple for some, but as a flash to console conversion this looks to have the same potential for success as Newgrounds’ ‘Alien Hominid‘, pushed perhaps even further by the smaller price label as a downloadable game.
The game has been the point of some focus for quite a while now, but a solid release date is as of yet unknown.
In the mean time, why not try out the flash predecessor yourself? http://intihuatani.usc.edu/cloud/flowing/ .