Les Mots Dangereux
Ironically, while we are steadfast in our refusal to purchase a Playstation 3 for six hundred dollars, we did buy one for twelve hundred. One of them went up at the Child’s Play auction, and understanding that the device would be necessary at some point in the future we cloaked ourselves in philanthropy and made away with it. Since December 14th, it has sat sealed in its box on the floor. We have considered installing it on more than one occasion, but never knew exactly why. flOw answered this question.
Gabe’s favorite game of all time is Rez, and so I wasn’t especially surprised to see him so attracted to flOw. They’re both games with agendas which extend in a stable lattice around the experience of play. When Flow - which I will now begin spelling like a real word - when Flow was announced, we discussed a little bit of the philosophy behind it. You won’t really be consciously aware of it while you’re playing, and that’s sort of the idea. But both of these games have a highly idiosyncratic artistic perspective which I imagine is irresistible to him. Something else they have in common is astonishing audio. Rez is about building and inhabiting music, music that becomes more complex as you progress. The implication of Flow seems to be that life, even simple life, represents drama on a Wagnerian level and should be scored accordingly. It eschews the usual language of game audio for simple, analog analog instrumentation that is nothing short of remarkable in its execution. I was going to say originally that Rez has the more traditional gameplay of the two, but I’m not entirely sure that’s the case.
There isn’t really a lot of Flow - like the flash debut, it simply evaporates. I guess that makes sense for a game that takes place in water.
I’m not fond of the Sixaxis, really, as a controller - it is difficult to make the case that it feels sturdy or exhibits satisfying heft. This thought persisted only a few minutes into my life as an amoeba and then was replaced by a desperate need to traverse fluid and consume other microorganisms. Then an urge to develop longer, more powerful flagellum became my goal - as though an episode of Unique Whips were playing out at the cellular level. So no, I don’t like the controller. Playing Flow, the controller seemed to disappear. It makes a case for motion sensing controls that is as potent as anything Nintendo has delivered to date.
That’s the parable, I guess. A controller is as good as the game. A system is as good as its library. Far all these interstitial lamentations, all the saber rattling and console war propaganda, there is a simple remedy: a breathtaking exclusive experience. I’m not comfortable saying (as others have) that Flow reaches the high bough we call a "killer app." It’s amazing, and you should play it, but it wasn’t true when they said it about Geometry Wars and it’s no more true now. Will it be Motorstorm? I guess we’ll know in a week.