In recent years, escape rooms have been growing in popularity, and so has virtual reality. So, it seems only fitting to combine the two and create a claustrophobic, puzzling experience. Flow Weaver draws the audience away from the usual horror setting that plagues escape rooms to create a unique experience of magic and sorcery.
Flow Weaver throws you into its dense world with no explanation. You are trapped and must find five runestones to break the seal that binds you to your seat. Fortunately, you are a ‘Flow Weaver’ and can transition between different flows (or dimensions). This means you must use multiple linked dimensions to solve the puzzles. Along the way, you will also unlock spells or skills that enable you to interact with objects out of range, adding to the element of a fantasy escape room.
Flow Weaver is a very short experience, and some players have completed it in under an hour. It took me almost 2 hours, but it was a drag. The game is filled with long, arduous, and unskippable narrative sequences that affect the flow of the puzzles. I never felt I could get into the groove of playing as every time the story progresses, a dialogue sequence ensued.
“Flow Weaver doesn’t push the boundaries of virtual reality gaming”
Playing on the Oculus Quest, the worlds are absolutely stunning, and I always looked forward to the next world to see what was next. I could imagine a Quest 2 or high-power PC improving upon this and dramatically increasing the visual fidelity. The only problem is that you can’t explore these worlds as there is no in-game movement.
Flow Weaver doesn’t push the boundaries of virtual reality gaming, but that is the point of the narrative. The game is programmed to be played comfortably, sitting down and stationary. Even though this means you will never experience motion sickness, it makes some of the level design pointless. You are situated in unique, gorgeous worlds with no way to access or explore them as you are bound by a magical bind locking you to your seat. I felt like being confined to my seat rather than an area or room hindered the overall experience.
The puzzles in Flow Weaver are interesting, and most of them require you to combine items and elements from the different worlds together. Initially, the puzzles were simple and easy to figure out, but that changed towards the end of the game. For example, there is a machine in the underworld that you need to power up, and you receive no explanation on how to fix it. You’re stuck to fiddle with certain gears and levers until eventually, it all clicks into place.
“If you feel like taking a break, you might have to replay parts of the game again.”
On top of poorly explained puzzles, items you need will sometimes glitch and disappear. If you drop an item on the ground to pick up another one, it will sometimes fall through the floor or walls and vanish out of thin air. Some objects are also hard to interact with, such as putting codes into a machine in the dream world. This requires you to press buttons on a keypad with the numbers going in one direction. If you accidentally press the one next to it, you must go all the way around again.
If you feel like taking a break from Flow Weaver, you might have to replay parts of the game again. The game works off a checkpoint system but doesn’t highlight when you hit one or if the game has saved. There is no manual save, so you’re forced to run the risk.
As previously mentioned, the story is short and once completed, the game has exhausted its replayability. Playing the game a second time won’t offer you a different ending or story. Therefore, Flow Weaver‘s price of AU$30.99 is incredibly overpriced for the amount of content present in the game.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on Oculus Quest. The publisher provided the code.
Fortunately, Stitch Media have made a patch since the playthrough and have identified and fixed a lot of the issues noted in this review.