Virtual reality and escape room-style puzzlers go hand-in-hand with each other, so I’m always excited to try a new release in the genre out when they hit the Oculus Quest. Flow Weaver is the latest to drop into my game library and it brought with it a neat little twist that made it all the more alluring: magical dimension shifting. Sounds good, right?
Well, whilst the idea behind Flow Weaver certainly hits the mark, the execution isn’t always quite there. Don’t get me wrong, it has its fun moments, but they’re held back by what is otherwise a buggy and lacking experience.
Flow Weaver puts players in the role of a… well… ‘Flow Weaver’; a wizard who is able to travel between the different dimensions of magic and alter those realities with their abilities. Unfortunately, you find yourself taken captive by the villainous Necromancer, who wants to learn how you’re able to traverse through these dimensions and use that power for her own wicked deeds. It’s up to you to escape her capture and ensure that these powers don’t fall into her hands.
Doing so requires the player to solve an array of escape room-style puzzles, with everything taking place from a fixed location (this is a sitting experience so excessive movement isn’t necessary) where magic is used to unravel each enigma. The hook here though is your ability to travel between dimensions whenever necessary, with some puzzles requiring players to learn an ability from a different dimension or interact with objects within it in order to progress. Your actions in these dimensions can cause things to change in others too, so there is a ‘Butterfly Effect’ sense of connection between them all.
It’s a neat idea and one that can make for some intriguing moments in-game, with some of Flow Weaver’s puzzles certainly proving to be charming in design. This is a world of magic after all, so using some of your capabilities to interact with strange creatures or manipulate the environment in peculiar ways felt good. Your meditation ability makes it clear what objects you can actually interact with in the world too, which can save a lot of time fiddling around and trying to find a solution to whatever enigma you might be facing.
It’s a good job too, because Flow Weaver doesn’t really like to give the player much direction as to what they actually need to do. Whilst I appreciate that puzzlers (and especially those in games like this) shouldn’t hold the player’s hand too much, I couldn’t help but to feel a little frustrated here. Some objects you need to use didn’t always make sense for example, whilst the fact you can jump between different dimensions meant that you may find yourself circling through them all before you get any closer to unravelling a clue. And don’t get me started on that damn cog puzzle…
It’s strange that it caused so many issues for me really, especially since Flow Weaver’s environments don’t actually offer a whole lot for players to do. Whilst they’re certainly pretty and embrace the fantasy vibe perfectly, there’s not much room in there for interactivity or magical hijinks. There’s no doubting that the puzzling should be at the forefront of the experience, but it would’ve been nicer to be able to use my powers for more meaningless yet fun interactions within the world.
The abilities you unlock can feel very limited in scope too. I got excited when I was able to light things on fire and couldn’t wait to see how I could use those abilities across the dimensions… but nope, limited to a few simple uses in puzzles, and that’s it. There was nothing in the game that I hadn’t seen done before in other virtual reality titles either, with Flow Weaver’s abilities and puzzling never offering anything distinctly unique. It just feels like a massively missed opportunity by the game, ESPECIALLY since you’re restricted to just one spot in each of the environments you get to visit. Magic should never feel this limited, especially in virtual reality…
There are other problems to be found in the game too, with the most significant being the bug that sees the game lock up if you interact with the world when someone is speaking. I’ve seen this issue mentioned by quite a few players online, but in Flow Weaver’s defence my experience wasn’t half as bad as theirs; sure, I had to re-load my save a few times, but progress was never lost. That doesn’t excuse the fact that it IS an issue right now though and one that really does need to be fixed to make the whole experience more accessible. Other than that, I got through Flow Weaver fine for the most part, bar a few graphical glitches here and there… it isn’t ideal though and it’s clear that it could’ve done with a little bit more development time to fine-tune these issues.
It is worth mentioning that the developers have stated on Twitter that they’re working on a patch that should address some of these problems, so maybe it’s worth holding fire on purchasing the game until it’s available.
Flow Weaver isn’t a bad game, but between the limited use of your abilities, a lack of direction, and the bugs, it’s one that’s really hard to recommend right now.
It certainly has its moments with the vibrant fantasy world making for an alluring setting and some elements of the game really do feel charming in design, but there are way too many stumbling blocks to make it feel like a wholly enjoyable experience. The developers have promised that they’re going to look at fixing these in the coming weeks, but for now there are much better puzzlers to play on your Oculus Quest than Flow Weaver.
Developer: Stitch Media
Publisher: Stitch Media
Platform(s): Oculus Quest (Reviewed), Oculus Rift
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