PSN Games (Summer 2013)   Leave a comment

Finally I get to review the following games: Machinarium, flOw, Flower, Datura.

Machinarium

The first time I played this little gem was almost 4 years ago as a demo on the game’s website. In June, the PlayStation Network offered the game for free to PSN Plus subscribers. I couldn’t say no to a free game.

It’s about a humanoid robot (a he) that found itself on a junkyard. He doesn’t remember much about what happened, but he remembers another humanoid robot (a girl) when he’s idle. You go throughout the game solving puzzles and finding out more about the world and our unlikely metal protagonist.

Machinarium is a point and click adventure game. You move around a cursor on the screen and click on various objects to interact with. Our hero is not much of a robot, but it can stretch and shrink it’s body to a certain length and store objects by opening it’s mouth/head like a trash can. With that in mind, you get a general idea of where interactive objects are located by his reach. Other than that, an indicator pops up next to the cursor showing that the object is interactive.

Everything in the game is hand-drawn. The game developer(s) put their heart into this steam punk-ish industrial setting to make this machine world. They crammed a lot of detail into this game. It’s worth a try if you’re a PSN Plus subscriber. It’s also available on XBox Live and from their main site.

flOw

I saw flOw around 2007 when Sony was advertising the PlayStation Network. After digging a little, I found out that the game original came about as a master thesis by Jenova Chen for his concept on dynamic difficulty adjustment, wherein a game automatically adjusts its reactions to a player’s past and present actions.

You control an aquatic creature. Your objective: devour food and other lifeforms to evolve. The premise is similar to the game Snake, where you devour an object on the screen with your snake increasing in length. But that’s where the similarity ends. In flOw, there are different levels in which you can dive into. The deeper you get, the more chances you’ll encounter stronger/faster lifeforms out to eat you. You have to outsmart these lifeforms by becoming stronger or faster, depending on the creature you have at the moment.

At the bottom depth of any particular creature, there is an egg in the middle circled by food. Eating this egg will evolve (maybe?) and send your creature into the next stage. Technically, it’s the next stage but the game seamlessly transitions that part.

As a PS3 game, there are trophies to collect and can be your objective for playing the game. However, I believe this game was designed to be played without that competitive mindset. The music and the visuals are very relaxing. The game came as a bundle, which included the DLC to allow you to take a snapshot of the screen and an additional bonus stage. I got it for less than $3.

Flower

Flower is a must have, must play PS3 game in my book. From the same company that made flOw, it makes you question the definition of art or game. In most levels of the game, you start out as a gust of wind heading towards a flower. When you breeze by it, you take a petal. Your objective is to go throughout any level and collect petals from flowers. You can control how fast the wind moves and where it moves. Gathering petals from a set of flowers in specific areas will make the grass grow, essentially bringing life to that area.

Each level follows the previous one as an unspoken narrative about the effect of human civilization on nature. The visuals tell the story along with the music and sounds. Of all the SIXAXIS game control schemes I’ve played from various games, Flower got it right. Sure, it could have been done with normal controls but the sense of moving around with the gust of wind is worth the experience.

Just like flOw, this game is meant to be experienced not as a challenge or competitive nature of getting trophies. You can literally just play this game, flying around as a gust of wind carrying numerous flower petals. It’s as mesmerizing as the first time you saw an active Windows screensaver. I got it for less than $2.

Datura

The only thing I can think of to describe this game is that it is trippy. Datura is a flowering plant with hallucinogenic properties, hence the name and nature of the game. You start out inside an ambulance with an EMT helping you. You gain control of your self as a hand. It’s meant to be in first person view. From that point on, you are put into this forest and find various clues and objects. For every object or clue you encounter, you may or may not go into a flashback of some sort. They don’t really make much sense. Each flashback is convoluted and rarely relevant to other flashbacks.

Unlike flOw or Flower, this is a much different experience. The best relevant description I can think of is that it is an interactive acid trip of a movie. I’ve never been high before, but you probably might need to to fully appreciate this game. I’m sure the most hardcore of gamers may find meaning and symbolism throughout, but I have my doubts. I got it for less than $3 I think.

I’m done.

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Posted August 17, 2013 by StupidSystemus in Games, Reviews

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