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Game Review// .flow

You might remember a long time ago I had a good gush about Yume Nikki. Well, since then I read a little more into the series, discovering its fandom (who mostly lurk in places like 4chan rather than here) and learned a little bit more about the fanmade games. Since YN is an indie game (Dojin Soft), and its creator(s) prove to be pretty elusive themselves, the fans both here and in Japan made their own free games using the same RPGmaker program that YN did. So they're dojin dojin software? Woah, meta. There's mixed results, but two of them looked promising - Yume 2kki, which is unfortunately untranslated as yet (since it's also the fans who translate these games) and .flow. So I figured that, like last time, i'd talk a little about it and maybe you'd want to check it out.

Sabitsuki in her room

.flow (dot flow) takes place in a similar manner to Yume Nikki, consciously one assumes, as you play a young girl named Sabitsuki. This time, however, she enters the dreamlike -and frequently nightmarish- world of her imagination through her computer. It's purposely very similar to falling asleep in the last one, and it's kind of cool imagining her trancing out into this other state and snapping out again, but so far so similar.
In the basement of the 'school' areaUp on the school roof. He looks like a friendly fellow.

Again the name of the game is wandering around these barren, surreal landscapes, alternately desolate and labarynthine, to collect weird powers. The main difference this time is it's around twice the size of the 'world' in Yume Nikki. Evidently the designers wanted to provide more of the same experience for fans of the originals, and that's just dandy for what it is. But it does lead to my only actual complaint against this game - it's incredibly hard to get around this place. You kick off in a nexus of four paths to four worlds, which in turn lead to 1-3 more, each of which could be dead ends or lead to several more. I have absolutely no idea how many I've found, and since the game is as counter-intuitive and sandbox-based as last time there's no way of telling where you are with online FAQs, your only roadmap. "I'm in a place with neon cubes, am I in the 'neon' world or the 'cube' world?"
The crazy man builds his house upon the ???Well you barged in here, how did you think she would react?

Thankfully as you're wandering around the wilderness you'll still see lovely little vignettes of stuff which could be either creepy or touching depending on the mood you're in when you find them. Once again, however, you'll need to be careful of getting lost, trapped or getting accidentally warped somewhere and not being able to get back. But more so than last time, you'll also see much more unsettling and at times gory imagery.
Spot the white cat!No it doesn't. But if you thought it did, you're catching on fast!
I'm calling this one the 'smile' world
Now I've heard some messed up theories on why Madotsuki from Yume Nikki was the way she was (she was raped, she miscarried, she used to be a man &tc) which just goes to show what people can interpret from something with no 'true' answer. Playing .flow I've noticed there are some more conventionally 'nightmarish' ideas - the 'school' takes a sinister turn after you find the school uniform outfit (your uniform?) and schoolchildren appear in other areas of the game. That house pictured above is inhabited by a man and a little girl using the 'teacher' and 'schoolgirl' sprites. *shudder*. Also the 'hospital', if traversed right, leads further and further down, with gorier and gorier patients and walls, passing through areas that look like someone's insides before reaching the 'teeth' worlds pictured just above.

So overall? It's hard to approach this as someone who didn't play the original first, and if you did it can seem a bit samey. However it does have all the same charm and atmosphere as the last one. Once again you can find yourself playing this into the night without realizing it. In fact I'm going to be charitable about this one and say you could as easily jump into the YN experience from this one as the original, and if you got a kick out of Yume Nikki itself and like free games this one is worth downloading.

Next up I'm going to talk about possibly one of my favourite new horror games Corpse Party. Stay tuned.

Making a cameo from http://obscuritan.dreamwidth.org/4525.html