August 11, 2011
Day late... but I'll keep the dollar.
Bear with me... I know these have been out for a bit, but I just found them so deal! Yeah...I'm new to the PS3. We know this (well, you do now). I've been a Nintendo kid all of my life, but with the tax cash I got this spring, I snagged a great deal on my 250GB PS3 Move bundle. I don't get a whole lot of time to play games for hours on end like I used to, but I did take the opportunity the other night to check out some very interesting demos. Mostly because they were free, but also because I wanted new blog fodder. Guest what... Found it!
The first game I found was Flower. thatgamecompany released an "emotive" follow up to it's debut release "flOw". This unique experience came out in 2009 so yeah... I'm behind the 8-ball on this one. But it doesn't mean I cant discuss the newness of the discovery to me, right? Flower is actually a very nice looking and pretty game, well ok not a game... it's more an experience. There isn't a lot of game play involved in this as far as I can see. You control the wind, blow some petals off of plants, and bring life to the dull landscape. Definitely an original concept, but I wouldn't call it a game. To me, a "game" has to have a certain level of challenges and obstacles the user must face and complete. Sure "Flower" has different levels you can navigate through, but there is no challenge apart from the occasional miss that happens when you speed up from a zephyr to a breeze and end up blowing past a few crucial stems. Yes, I know, I only played the demo.. but that was enough for me really. I saw the proof of concept and it fell short as far as I'm concerned. The music was alright; kind of relaxing and tolerable. No award winner there either though. The graphics were colorful and wispy... dreamlike... the high contrast offset the dull landscape which really made the scenery POP when the growth came to life and you passed a stage. This dreamlike feeling was what they were going for over at thatgamecompany I think, right... A Flower's dream world? In any case. If you want a free download to spend a few hours of your time trolling across a landscape in a semi open environment as an air elemental of sorts, grab the game. I wouldn't suggest buying it though.
The second "Johnny come lately" title I checked out that I wanted to post was "Echochrome." Another very innovative and original title. From 2008. This is interesting...Where "Flower" fell short on challenge and puzzle "Echochrome" came through with shining colors... well, sorta. In a weird juxtaposition to "Flower", this game is entirely in black and white with simple 8-bit-esque graphics. The challenges, however, are quite fun. Picture yourself in an impossible visual puzzle, sort of an Escher style drawing, or one of those optical illusion images you found in science books from 5th grade. Now, picture plaing as a pose-able artists mannequin and navigate around those illusion drawings on the map/path to avoid the pitfalls. That's Echochrome. Though a slight challenge, it was not enough to keep me engaged for more that the demo. In fact, I was bored before the demo was finished. One good thing came out of the Echochrome experience, however. All of those shapes made me want to play Tetris which I was thankful for. Both colorful, and challenging... Tetris that is.
Both of these games were quite unique from anything else I have played lately, but still not enough to impress me to purchase them. I'm glad they were free...I would have been kinda pissed if I paid anything for them. Sure both have that addictive quality to them which is why they are probably on there in the first place. I see these more as an smartphone or handheld app though. For some people, the games could be a nice way to mellow out after a difficult day of laying stone New England in January, or roofing work in July in Phoenix. But for me, as a game design instructor... they cause me more stress than my unruly college students. At least the students interact back in an unpredictable manner. If I was an individual who graded games for a living, I would give these both a, wait. I don't grade games for a living.
But tell me... Did you feel the same way? Have you played these? Did you BUY either of them? Do they get any better? Am I missing out on something grand by stopping at just the slice offered for free? I'd love to know if it is worth the coin to download the full versions. Do tell.