flOw PSP Review

Flow Title

 Title: flOw PSP
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: PSP
Download: 90 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: 
Yes

One thing I was mostly against doing on this site was reviewing the same game on multiple systems.  To clarify this, there are some games that have released on multiple platforms that the PS Vita can play.  Velocity, for example, began as a PlayStation Mini and then got remade as Velocity Ultra.  I opted to review Ultra, but never thought or wished to go back and review the original game.  In most cases, there’s really no point.  If a game releases on the PSP and then gets redone on the Vita, what’s the point in reviewing the lesser title?

There’s a reason I said most cases.  There are some cases where backwards-compatible games can triumph over the newer version, in a variety of different ways.  That’s what we’re going to be discussing today.  If you recall, I reviewed the PS Vita version of flOw more than an entire year ago.  In fact, I reviewed and gave the game away back in April 2014.  With reasons to be specified in just a little bit, here is my review of flOw PSP!

Story

flOw doesn’t really have a story.  When you’re in the game, you’re a microscopic aquatic organism feeding off of others to grow and evolve.  You don’t really get told to do this.  You just do it.  But, if I had to describe some sort of story, it would be a story of exploration and evolution for one of the many different creatures you can play as throughout the game.

Gameplay

Flow Game

I’m not really sure what genre to really classify this game as.  It’s top-down like a twin-stick shooter, but it’s not a shooter.  There is some element of combat involved, but it’s not an action game.  I’d say the closest anyone will be able to get to is Adventure.  So, that’s what I will call it.  Flow is an adventure game.

When you start the game, you will go through these stages or levels, where you find organisms that you can eat and absorb.  Some of them are small, defenseless organisms while others are evolved that look just like you.  On these, there are shining orbs on them you can feed on to steal from them and add to yourself.  Just like you can attack them in this way, they can do the same to you.  Attacking one will alert them, so there’s a mild sense of awareness to not be attacked, yourself.

Progressing through each level is done with two objects also on the stages.  One has a Blue X and one has a Red X.  Running into the Red X will advance you to the next level, while running into the Blue X returns you to the previous level, which can also be done with the Start button.  So there’s no need to worry if you missed something on a previous floor, as you can go back and get it.

Once you’re able to get through all of the stages of the campaign, you unlock different creatures you can play as, which evolve in different ways than the initial creature.  You can then go through with them and repeat the process.  Because of this short element to the game, you can complete the game pretty quickly.  Unlocking all characters, just like the Vita version, should take you no more than 2 hours, maybe 3.

Controls

Flow Controls

This is what your attention needs to be at: controls.  In the PS3, PS4, and PS Vita versions of the game, you only had one way of moving around and playing the game, and that was with Tilt Controls.  You had to tilt your PS Vita or controller to be able to move around.  There were no button or touch alternatives.  It’s all you had, and it was very awkward to adjust to.

The PSP, however, didn’t have motion controls built in, so they improvised by giving it button controls.  In this version of the game, you move around with the Left Analog Stick and used most other buttons to initiate a boost/dash, be it one of the face buttons or shoulder buttons.  You could also use Start to return to a previous floor/stage.

The significance of this is that it makes the game dozens of times easier to play.  Motion controls only work well if you’re sitting a certain way.  With button controls, you can be standing, sitting, lying in bed, etc. and never have a single issue.

Presentation

Flow Pres

The improved control options in this older version of the game does come at a price.  The visual presentation of this game isn’t quite up to the level of the console or Vita versions.  While the Vita had a jagged edge here and there, this version has a good few of them.  There are noticeable jaggies on the models, specifically your character’s model.  The environments still look calming and pretty, but that model does look toned down if you’ve already played the Vita version.

Performance is pretty nice, overall.  There aren’t any frame drops to be seen as you play the game.  Exploring this aquatic world is nice and smooth.  You will see a slight drop the first time you hit a Red X, but after that, it goes very smooth and without issue.

Summary

flOw for the PSP is the same game you can get on the Vita, PS3, and PS4.  On the downside, the presentation isn’t quite as pretty as the other versions and there is a frame drop or to when switching stages.  If you can stand the presentation and are not a fan of motion controls, then this is definitely the version of this game for you. 

8/10

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