flowFlow is another student project by Jenova Chen, lead designer of Cloud and co-founder of Thatgamecompany.

Like the rest of Chen’s and Thatgamecomany’s projects, this one is about the experience rather than accomplishing any given objective. Though this one does have an objective: to descend through your aquatic environment, devour any other organisms you come across, and become, let’s call it, King of the Microbes. Despite how dramatic that sounds, the game is serene and evocative of drifting through the water. Music plays a big role and it’s a little reminiscent of some ocean-appreciation games (Endless Ocean, Ecco) though Flow is not anywhere near the same scale.

Of some minor note is how movement plays into this impression of drifting and tranquility – the player can make no sharp turns, and while it’s possible to move at reasonable speed in a straight line there’s no reason to do so for more than short bursts. The bulk of the motion happens in deliberate curves. Limiting player movement in this way does away with a lot of the stress and speed of a game which responds instantly to player commands.

After Chen’s graduation and the founding of Thatgamecompany, a commercial version of Flow was their first product. It added some additional player avatars and some additional levels to play through, but the character of the commercial game is exactly the same.


Like Z-Rox, Second Person Shooter Zato is appealing as much for being a different way of looking at things as it is for anything else. As the name suggests, the player is the focus of the camera and the game is played through the eyes of the enemies that you are fighting. This generates a nice split-screen effect when there are multiple enemies on the field.

second person shooter zatoOn a practical level the perspective forces you to work in reverse to how you’re accustomed, much like performing a task while looking in a mirror. It’s a challenge in itself, and in the context of playing, operating under the gun, it provides an effective mechanic for a short game like this one.

On a psychological level it’s a little bit interesting to shoot towards yourself. This game, with its blocky cartoonish style, doesn’t play into that aspect, but there’s an older game, also called Second Person Shooter (no Zato), which did slightly more to explore this. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be available any longer. All of the links that I can find lead to the same place, which is currently unresponsive. I’ll link it anyway, just in case it comes back to life, but you’re not missing much: calling it a full game is probably overstating it, more like a demo, and while it was interesting there just wasn’t a whole lot there.


I give this one credit party just for being so early on the scene. Curator Defense was released in 2005, just shortly after the tower defense genre came into being. To put that in perspective: Desktop Tower Defense, which did a lot to popularize tower defense and the mazing sub-genre of tower defense, was released two years later in 2007. Curator Defense’s closest contemporary was Master of Defense, a fixed-path tower defense game which, to be frank, was not as good and was also a commercial game. For a while there this was easily the best tower defense game available, and it’s always been free.

curator defenseIt’s a “mazing” tower defense game, where you define the path for the creeps, as opposed to the fixed-path style of tower defense. Thematically, it pits you as the curator of a museum of quality fine art against hordes of awful incoming modern art.

If you are a fan of modern art… well, do your best to play this in good humor. It is very clearly tongue in cheek.