A masters in fine arts thesis project created by Jenova Chen and Nicholas Clark of the University of Southern California, flOw is a mesmerizing game of primordial life, evolution and survival. Dive deep into the wild blue to seek out and consume other organisms on your path to simple cell nirvana.
Begin life as a microscopic multi-cellular organism with a semi-circular shaped 'head' for feeding and for locomotion. The organism moves by following the mouse cursor, moving as it moves and always in pursuit. Click and hold the mouse button to accelerate its movement, though doing so will make it more difficult to steer and to make sharp turns.
The starting location is at the top of a very deep pool, 20-levels deep. The top level is indicated by the game's "flOw" logo, which can be seen when the game begins. On the top level you will also find another organism with a small red dot "." in its middle. This organism can be found on all but the deepest of levels, since eating it will take you down one level. There is a similar organism with a blue dot "." on all but the top level; consuming it will take you up one level.
If either of these two creatures ever leaves the screen of the current level, small ripples, in corresponding red or blue, will appear along the edge in the direction that it can be found. Just follow the ripples as it is also an indication of where there may be food as well.
To eat another organism as food, for example one smaller than you, simply navigate your creature so that the 'food' comes within its circular 'mouth' and it will consume it. In later levels where there are even larger organisms, steer for the bright circular shaped cells within the body cavity. When an organism (including your own) loses all of these life-giving cells, it will perish.
Continue your advance deeper and deeper to discover what lies in waiting within this absolutely magnificent piece of interactive art.
Analysis: Reviewing beautiful work like this is what makes maintaining this site so rewarding. It is an excellent example of the boundless creativity that is possible with an accessible development platform (Flash).
I loved the seamless flow between game play, splash screen and credits. Brilliant. The Flash 8 filters have been put to very good use in this game to simulate depth of view and an appearance of bio-luminescence within the creatures. I especially enjoyed being able to see what is coming on the next level down, and the zooming effect when moving between levels. The creature detail is simple and yet believable and their movement graceful. The entire visual presentation is exceptionally well designed and executed.
The background music compositions by Austin Wintory are a perfect match for the smooth flowing game play, and creates a mood that is both mesmerizing and relaxing. The sound effects that are triggered while eating complement the background music with texture and depth. All things considered, flOw is an elegant, well-orchestrated composition of sight, sound, and gameplay.
It is also necessary to mention the similarity between flOw and the primordial phase of Will Wright's upcoming Spore game simply because Spore immediately came to mind when first laying eyes on flOw. And flOw did not disappoint me even with the lofty expectations I have of Spore from seeing Will's GDC presentation last year. And with almost a year since Spore first surfaced, I think it is very likely that Spore inspired flOw.
And yet even in all it's present magnificence the game is still unfinished according to discussions on the game's forum. More sound effects and a final boss are still planned to be included in the final version.
Cheers to Will, Wiser, Momentum, and Andrew for suggesting the game, and to Wulfo for discovering there is still more to come. =)