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Journey, Flower, and Flow

[Click here to watch the Journey Trailer]

[Click here to watch the Flower Trailer]

[Click here to watch the Flow Trailer]

Titles: 1.) Journey 2.) Flower 3.) Flow (“flOw”)

Genre: Artistic (and Adventure, in Journey’s case)

Rating:  E (Everyone)

Consoles: PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable (for Flow)

Game Description:

Journey, Flower, and Flow are three separate, short games made by an independent game company called “thatgamecompany,” which designs games around the emotions they want their players to feel, while most game companies design games around a mechanic. There is currently a “bundle” available for purchase that includes all three games on one disc for the PlayStation 3.

Flow is thatgamecompany’s first game, and is the most simple of the three. There is a free, online version of the game, but this version is the original Flash version of Flow, before it was given new playable creatures, multi-player mode for up to four players, enhanced graphics, music, and other features found on the PS3 version. As explained on Wikipedia, you play as “an aquatic microorganism that evolves by consuming other microorganisms.” You can sink or rise to different planes in the two-dimensional aquatic environment, where you can find different sources of consumption, some of which might fight back. The concept of the game is based on the psychological concept of mental immersion, or “flow.”

Flower is thatgamecompany’s second game, often described as poetry in the form of a game. It is also quite simple, but is enhanced with a 3-D environment. In this game, you play as the wind, blowing flower petals through the air and bringing color to deadened land, passing through various beautiful landscapes. Like Flow, the game is intended to relax you rather than provide a thrill that most video games attempt to offer. There is a subtle narrative arc, but no dialogue in the game. The game, and the music that accompanies it, are designed to invoke positive feelings in the player. Like Flow, it is meant to touch your emotions.

Journey is thatgamecompany’s latest, award-winning game. It was groundbreaking for the video game industry. It is slightly more complicated than Flow or Flower but just as relaxing. There is no dialogue, no instructions, and no rules. You are shown a destination,  and throughout the game, you make your way towards that destination. It encourages players to ponder life and the meaning of companionship, while also providing an interpretive back story.

An Internet connection for online multi-player is important for this game. Before you start to worry about your child playing with some stranger from around the world, this randomly selected stranger is not identified and has no ability to talk to or identify your child. The only form of communication between you and whoever the game matches you with is a button that allows you to emit a soft “ping” from the body of your character. This noise is your only form of communication. The relationship and cooperation between you and this mysterious stranger is imperative to the meaning of the game. Upon finishing the game, after the credits, you will be able to see the username of the player (or players) you encountered on your “journey.”

Skills Required and Recommended:

  • Basic understanding of a controller – REQUIRED

General Difficulty:

These games are about as simple as games can be. You have to know how to move, using a controller. Journey requires you to activate shrines, but this is done with the click of a button.

Level of Violence:

There is no violence in either of the three games. Towards the middle and end of Journey, you will encounter long, large creatures that will attack you, but since there is no health meter in the game, you are under no real threat.

Use of Bad Language:

There is no dialogue in any of these three games.

Presence of a Story:

As artistic games that are focused on invoking emotions, there is little story. Flower has a subtle narrative arc, and Journey has an interpretive story, but it is never explained.

Presence of a Message:

Despite the lack of a solid story, there are messages to be found in these games, especially in Journey. What you take from these games will vary for every person, but people have claimed that they have experienced “epiphanies” after finishing Journey for the first time.

Entertainment Value:

All three of these games are mesmerizing, but children whose attention span can only be attracted to thrills might not enjoy these games (with the exception, perhaps, of Journey, which is also an adventure game, however relaxing it is). If your child wants to play them, consider this a blessing. These games are great at relaxing people, even kids. They are, however, short games, but games that can still have replay value.

Age Range Recommendation:

I don’t see why an age limit would be needed for any of these games, and apparently ESRB thinks the same. You must be able to understand the functions of a controller, but this is imperative for any game. Otherwise, in Journey, you are also expected to wander in the general direction of an obvious destination shown to you at the beginning of the game.

Usual Cost:

On their own, Journey costs $15, Flower costs ,$7 and Flow costs $5.59. If you buy the Journey Collector’s Edition, for $28 to $29, you get all three games plus some minor mini-games, behind the scenes videos, commentaries, and a collection of imagery and music from all three games. You can download the games on the PlayStation Network or buy the bundle disc.

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