As pretentious as it might sound, Flewn isn’t really a game. It’s more of an experience than anything, telling you a story through simple text and some beautiful visuals. It won’t take you long to reach the end – only about 20-25 minutes – but it’s still quite a delight in a strange sort of way. Think of it as the gaming equivalent of a Wes Anderson movie. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but those who appreciate great style will love it.
At its simplest, Flewn is an interactive story. It tells the tale of a whale traveling across the desert. Something that sounds strange enough, before you consider that this whale is walking on stilts. He’s in search of an ocean to return to and, well… it’s as unusual as it sounds. As you progress, you see increasingly delightful, though minimalistic, sights. It’s all a little outlandish and expects you to enjoy the artwork more than anything, but that’s really not hard to do when Flewn is so beautiful.
Invoking memories of Simogo’s Device 6 at times, you’ll need to rotate your iPhone to read the text that appears or to take in a new perspective on things. For the most part though, Flewn is fairly hands off in terms of what it expects from you.
The short length is a little to the game’s detriment, though. I found that just as I was being drawn into the experience, it was over. Sure, the story had concluded appropriately so that I wasn’t left hanging, but it still left me wanting more. The story of Flewn feels like a taster to something more impressive, or like a storybook for younger players. In terms of the amount of text involved it’s fairly simple, although it’s great to take in the scenery and meet new creatures such as a camel along the way. The production values demonstrate just how beautiful games can be, but this isn’t the kind of title that you’ll go back to rewatch very often, if at all.
Flewn does offer one extra besides the story mode. Throughout the tale, you’re accompanied by your friend, a frog suitably called Frog. A separate mode has you following the tale from Frog’s perspective and provides slightly more interactive moments. This time round, you’r flying around in an unicycopter, allowing you to run along the ground or fly into the air. Simply holding your finger down affects how you fly, again proving ideal for young players. You have to fly into bugs occasionally in order to eat them up so that you have enough energy to continue flying. It’s something that isn’t well explained at first, but after you initially run out of energy, the game tells you what to do.
The problem is that this game mode is significantly less compelling than the Whale’s story, even if there is more to do here. An ideal solution would have been to combine the two modes somehow, thereby ensuing a “best of both worlds” scenario.
As it stands, I’d stick with simply enjoying the whale’s tale. It’s perhaps frustratingly brief, leaving you wishing for an episodic series of content, but it’s really quite beautiful. Short though it might be, I can see Flewn being particularly great for those wanting to get new players involved in something a little more unusual and creative than many other more mainstream games.