review, video games

flOw

Streaming, ebbing state of immersion in a singular task that accompanies complete devotion to the moment. That is a paraphrased definition of the state of Flow from psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. Basing their thinking in this idea, Jenova Chen and Nicholas Clark created a Flash-based web game. Developed in part as a portion of Chen’s thesis work, the game’s popularity soon prompted the creation of a game company to sell the rights to the game. The game eventually found its way to the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Portable systems.

Play takes place on a series of levels. Starting as a worm-like creature the player must guide this organism to consume other microorganisms around it. As it eats more and more the creature grows in length and develops other attributes. To proceed to the next level the creature needs to eat one of two different colored cells. Eating the red cell causes the creatures to proceed down a level while the blue cell directs upward. Climbing down the levels causes each progressive area to get darker and introduces greater sized microorganisms to ward off or eat. Once the player has caused the worm to eat the final microorganisms on the bottom level, the game restarts with a jellyfish-like creature on the top most bright level. Play then continues as each series of levels is completed and the game restarted with a new creature.

The length of time needed to complete the game changes to a degree for each new player. The game adapts to the style of play and adds or subtracts new organisms on each level. For more leisurely players the game can take relatively longer than for more serious players.