A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn that microbes live all around (and in) us in their own microscopic ecosystems and compete with one another to meet their basic needs and survive. Kids can learn that organisms change over time in response to their environments. While flOw does a beautiful job of representing microbial life and change over time, how and why these organisms change may not be clear to players.
The game is about meeting an organism's basic needs to survive. It does not have a message as such apart from that.
Ease of Play
The controls are mouse-or thumbstick-based and intuitive, though it takes some time to get used to turning.
Violence & Scariness
Abstract, geometric microorganisms eat one another.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There is no depiction of sex in the game. After completing the game, players will see an abstract, geometric egg "hatch" into a new creature.
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There are no spoken words in the game.
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Products & Purchases
Jenova Chen produced fl0w independently as part of his Master's thesis. Kids will see ads on the PlayStation Network if they download it for the PlayStation 3 or PSP rather than play the game online.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that flOw is a unique puzzler and simulation game that puts kids in control of a microorganism that eats others to evolve and survive. Jenova Chen made the game as part of his Master's thesis on "flow states" -- emotional zones in which participants feel immersed and compelled to continue in a game or activity. Because of its design, flOw is made to hook players using its graphics, sound, simple gampleay, and scaling difficulty by level. The online game has no save feature, which also encourages players to stick with it rather than lose progress.
Is It Any Good?
FLOW is a beautiful example of game design and draws the player into guiding, protecting, and growing the microorganism. flOw looks and sounds beautiful and the game uses a minimalist, abstract graphic style and subtle audio effects to give the player feedback about her performance in the game. As the organism grows, it gains body segments and flagella -- or wings -- that allow it move more quickly. Some creatures fight back by eating the organism's cells. Larger creatures can have multiple cells and take strategy to defeat.
While its gameplay is not deep or varied, the game's visuals, sounds, and scaling difficulty make it fun to play. Because the game was designed to keep players playing it, not only is it useful for talking about creatures and their needs, but it's also helpful for talking to kids about how to manage their time around playing games and become self-aware of the feelings and behaviors they have while playing.
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Our Editors Recommend
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