.flow

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Think the nexus looks a bit unsettling? Just wait.


.flow is a freeware Yume Nikki fangame created in the RPG Maker 2003 engine by a Japanese developer going under the alias "lol". Like Yume Nikki, exploration, surrealism, and atmosphere are the basis of the game, but unlike Yume Nikki, this one has a LOT of disturbing content and horror elements added in. It is an incomplete game, with "lol" being known only by a twitter and a Pixiv account. As of 0.1, the game now has an end game that leads up to an ending that increases in length as one continues to explore.

.flow stars a young girl known only as Sabitsuki, who uses her computer (in one way or another, whether it be the internet or artificially-induced dreaming) to explore a surreal world while collecting special abilities known as 'effects'. These 'effects' change Sabitsuki's appearance, varying from witch clothes to a corpse. Notably, some such as the whistle and the pipe shall affect NPC's, although most do nothing.

Various versions, both English and Japanese, can be found here. Version 0.15 can be found here. The author also has a pixiv account, a deviantART account and a twitter page.

Notably, much like the original there are no provided explanations to what is seen or discovered in the game. Fans are left to speculate, with no names given to anything other than the protagonist.

Not to be confused with the 2006 freeware life simulation game flOw.

Tropes used in .flow include:
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer
  • Acid Trip Dimension
  • All Just a Dream: Or Was It a Dream?
  • Artificial Limbs: The robot effect gives these to Sabitsuki. The TV effect gives Sabitsuki a TV for a head.
  • Art Shift: The 8-bit area.
  • Blob Monster: The slime effect turns Sabitsuki into one of these, with the action button causing her to sink into herself.
    • There is also a smiley, cute orange blob monster you can find in the hotel. It doesn't do anything.
  • Blood From the Mouth: One scene causes this to happen to Sabitsuki, both in her mind and in reality.
    • Not just one scene. Several events will add to Sabitsuki's "Erosion Counter," and as the counter goes up more and more blood appears in her room, eventually accompanied by what may be life-support devices near the computer.
    • Blood can be seen on Smile's mouth as well.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Oh yes. This game redefines rusting to mean grows increasingly bloodier and there are several events where areas rust including Sabitsuki herself.
    • Specifically, there's an hidden counter called the "erosion counter" that basically tics up every time Sabitsuki or Rust experiences a particularly traumatic event. As this goes up, more blood starts to show up in her normal room.
    • No no no, I don't think this is properly emphasized. Sabitsuki's dreams are either so bloody that it is literally flowing over into the real world slightly, or, in a more accepted theory, she has contracted some sort of disease that causes her to bleed profusely and her disease is either connected to her dreams or her dreams are growing worse because of the disease. Very nice piece of fridge horror.
    • The most disturbing scene in the game, known as the "Dying Girls Event", has Sabitsuki witnessing 9 black haired girls spontaneously exploding one after another and then witnessing viscera splitting out of the stomach of a large black haired girl on the wall. After witnessing this event, Sabitsuki's vision goes blurry and she wakes up.
  • Body Horror: All over the place. Sabitsuki also has an effect that makes her look like Monoko's five-armed form.
    • In the endgame, as you get hit by more and more red demons, Sabitsuki becomes more and more decayed.
  • Brought Down to Normal: The endgame completely removes Sabitsuki's effects and makes it impossible to retrieve them again.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Sabitsuki uses a steel pipe to kill things.
  • Catgirl: The cat effect. Sabitsuki can turn into a cat while this effect is active.
  • Cool Mask: The Gas Mask effect.
  • Critical Existence Failure: The endgame has a glitch that involves taking damage in the 8-bit area. When you leave, you will appear to not have taken that damage, but you have.
  • Darker and Edgier: The general atmosphere of .flow is darker than Yume Nikki.
  • Dark World: The Corrupted School and Corrupted Hospital are even scarier versions of the School and Hospital, right down to the incredibly unsettling laughter in both.
  • Downer Ending: No matter which ending you choose, it likely doesn't end well for Sabitsuki.
  • Dream Land
  • Dream People
  • Eldritch Abomination: Quite a few of them.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Kaibutsu, which means "monster", is a perfect way to describe the demonic spiders the game throws at you.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Sabitsuki. Except with the Mono Eye effect, which is exactly the opposite.
  • Eye Scream: A couple of the posters in the school area depict a pair of eyes which appear to be either bleeding profusely or heavily tattooed. Some fans also speculate that Smile's eyes are either missing, scarred or severely damaged as a result of their strange '+' shape. The effect you get from him is called 'tattoo', however, so it's unclear whether or not the '+' is just a design he has on his face or something even worse.
    • As of V0.15, there is an eye graffiti in the apartments, that you can smack with the pipe and cause it to bleed.
  • Fan Nickname: Candle World Kaibutsu, for the Kaibutsu in the blood-path area after the hospital. Enrage it, and it chases you faster than the Broom can fly.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: The Gun effect, which has certain effects on certain NPCs (as well as causing some to flee from her).
  • Flying Broomstick: The Broom effect, which both serves the same function as the bike in Yume Nikki and is also similar to the witch effect from the same game.
  • Gainax Ending: The game has three endings, each one less coherent than the last.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The maids, who all wear gas masks.
  • Girl with Psycho Weapon: Sabitsuki's killing implement of choice is a steel pipe.
  • Good Guy Bar: The Sugar Hole, populated by one regular and occasionally a Kaibutsu. Sabitsuki can occasionally get a beer there, or just have a meal at varying prices.
  • Gorn: A good deal of it, as standard for Yume Nikki fangames. Also the tumbling doll, corpse and viscera (spilled guts) effects for Sabitsuki.
    • Getting hit by red demons during the end game further and further decays Sabitsuki, to the point where her face is mangled and she's coated in blood.
  • Gotta Catch Em All: All 24 effects (plus the 25th effect, the instructions) as Sabitsuki, then the 3 empty boxes corresponding to important parts of Sabitsuki's mind.
  • Guide Dang It: You will, at some point or another, need to look up some videos or guides if you want to find some of the effects.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: One of Sabitsuki's effects is a set of headphones.
  • The Hero Dies: Not in reality, but in her mind Sabitsuki can try to bonk a Kaibutsu in the head and get torn to pieces for her efforts. Then there's the corpse effect, which essentially makes Sabitsuki zombie-like, yet otherwise normal.
    • The ending makes it unclear whether she's dead or not, but she's definitely messed up.
  • Heroic Albino: Sabitsuki
  • Hikikomori: Sabitsuki.
  • Hollywood Cyborg: The mechanical effect, which replaces her arms and legs with robotic parts and gives her robotic headgear.
  • Homage: Mechanical things seem to have been inspired by asgr's designs for cyborgs and machines.
  • Ill Girl: Sabitsuki is generally considered to be one, to the point where it verges on being canon. To get an idea of how accepted this theory is, there aren't any popular alternatives.
  • Invisibility Cloak: The Ghost effect.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind
  • Jump Scare: One random event in the red eye world, there is a "door" leading to an area with three Kaibutsu. If you near them, they chase you and you can only head south... only to get hit by a super-fast Kaibutsu that comes out of nowhere. If you manage to avoid them with the ghost effect, you will be taken to the Corrupted School, where Kaibutsu chase you into a room where you will be killed by Smile.
    • When you find Smile and his sister in their house, and decide to hit them with your steel pipe. HOLY CRAP WHAT WAS THAT
    • Possibly the event in the bar where you try to attack a drinking Kaibutsu and she immediately counters your attack, killing you in the process.
    • The very last scene of the Golden Ending. SUDDEN BLAST OF STATIC
  • Kill It with Fire: The aforementioned Bar Kaibutsu will stuff you into a furnace after killing you.
  • Meaningful Name: Sabitsuki translates to "covered in rust". Given the game's darker visual style and audio style, it really fits. The endgame changes her name to Rust.
    • Smile. Also Sister, who Smile's little sister.
    • The white-haired, humanoid creatures that may or may not chase you are called "Kaibutsu," meaning "monster."
  • Mental World: Sabitsuki explores her mind in some fashion. It seems straightforward until the Endgame, where strange things start happening to her real life room, eventually waking up in her bed as if nothing happened. Of course, until you get to the very last ending.
  • Mind Control Device: The Whistle effect causes NPCs to move in the direction Sabitsuki is facing.
  • Mind Screw: The entire game, especially scenes where Sabitsuki is forcibly woken up.
    • Of course, there is also the alleyway hospital (dead and dying children EVERYWHERE, including Sabitsuki herself in a room) and the endgame, where Sabitsuki leaves her room, only to turn into a kaibutsu, get killed by a robot maid, and then shown off like a trophy.
      • The alleyway hospital also, for some (probably sinister) reason, has a bunch of meat hooks hanging up in the hallways.
    • Sabitsuki traverses the final part of the endgame and ends up killing herself who is sitting on a throne - wait, what?
  • Mini Game: Shinsoku Neko.
  • Mood Whiplash: Through the red tentacle land of darkness and blood... technicolor and a cheery background tune along with cats and rainbow doorways, along with an incredibly uplifting scene!
    • Also, going through the alleyway hospital to dead and dying children. Everywhere.
  • Multiple Endings: Three of them - one after collecting all the effects, one after dropping all the effects, and one after completing all of the endgame. All of these happen by leaving your room by the nexus door in the real world. Though they may or may not be all the same ending.
  • Nightmare Face: The Kaibutsu develop these when enraged. The world to the north also has things with wide-open mouths.
    • Sabitsuki's face gets messed up as she takes more damage in the endgame. Even if there's not much to see, your mind can fill in the gaps.
    • One part of the Womb Level has a creepily detailed mouth that is bleeding. It's terrifying.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: There is a sequence involving an open, pitch black doorway with blood and gore splattered all around it. You can't see what's on the other side of the doorway at first, and you never will. Sabitsuki refuses to go through the doorway, and the only way to leave the room is to step back, and when you do, Sabitsuki starts oozing blood everywhere causing her to pass out in the dream world and wake up to discover blood all over her keyboard. In other words, whatever Sabitsuki saw on the other side of that doorway was so horrifying that it caused her physical harm.
    • Sadly, you actually see what's behind that door in the endgame. Kind of ruins the surprise even if the actual "surprise" is still creepy.
  • People Jars: Two examples of this - both in the looping, industrial, orange lava maze accessible by the sewers. One is a giant Oreko in a tube, touching her changes the maze to a simple path. You can smash her tube, but it doesn't do anything (except keep the maze as a maze). Now, in the endgame, you can go deeper in via the simple path. At the end, you can go to a room inaccessible before the endgame. And here, where you get one of the empty boxes, is a giant Sabitsuki in a tube.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: The tumbling doll effect, natch. Also the viscera effect, where Sabitsuki casually walks around with her intestines hanging out and casually tries to shove them back inside when using the action button.
    • The endgame trumps all that, as Sabitsuki continues to casually wander around even as her body is torn apart by demons.
  • One-Hit Kill: The corrupted School event. Both the pipe-carrying Kaibutsu and Smile will kill you should they reach you.
    • If not for a glitch in Rust's version of the corrupted school event, the giant red demons would do the exact same thing.
    • The Kaibutsu in the bar will murder you if you try to smack her.
  • Orcus on His Throne: While not the trope exactly, there is a room in the Womb Level where Sabitsuki can sit on a throne. One of the empty boxes comes from a giant black-haired, blue-shirted girl on a giant throne from the same level. And the endgame has a bloody, damaged Sabitsuki sitting on a throne. Which you kill.
  • Perpetual Beta: Although it's still, version number-wise, farther in development than Yume Nikki.
  • Randomly Drops: Money from killing enemies, as well as several events.
  • Schmuck Bait: As in Yume Nikki, inactive enemies don't like being attacked. One in particular in a bar will even kill Sabitsuki for trying to hit him.
    • Hitting Smile with the steel pipe in his house.
  • Shout-Out: In particular, there are at least two that refer back to Yume Nikki. The arm effect makes Sabitsuki look like Monoko's five-armed form. An image similar to Uboa also appears on the wall of a maze-like area that is also a dead end. More obscurely, the tumbling doll effect is functionally similar to the severed head effect in Yume Nikki, and is in an endlessly looping area full of Kaibutsu.
    • Another area appears to be a shout out to Moonside.
    • Using the Witch effect gives Sabitsuki a large red bow and blueish dress.
    • Madotsuki appears in the Famicom world with the Witch Effect equipped, in the same room where you get the Broom effect
  • Slasher Smile: The appropriately named character known as 'Smile' gets one of these when you whack him with the steel pipe.
  • Snow Means Death: Blowing the whistle in one part of the industrial snow area reveals a ghost of a younger Sabitsuki wearing an orange scarf...
  • Spiritual Successor
  • Surreal Horror
  • Theme Naming: Another fangame character with a 'tsuki' in their name, though in Sabitsuki's case it means covered with.
  • The Virus: Parts of the game hint that Sabitsuki had, or currently has a mental disease or virus. The red demons could also been seen as these, especially in the endgame.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: The Witch Event, an homage to the Witch Event from Yume Nikki.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: There's a scene Sabitsuki can get to where she either has to kill her way through, or can get through with skillful manipulation of the whistle. The same thing happens in the scene regardless, but it's a little faster with the whistle since you don't have to wait for the NPCs in the way to fade first.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The steel pipe, Sabitsuki's equivalent to Madotsuki's knife, can be used to kill things, and there are oh so many defenseless characters out there to beat to death.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: The same kind as present in Yume Nikki: Trying to kill a Kaibutsu will just annoy them and make them chase Sabitsuki.
    • Trying to kill the one in the bar will just get Sabitsuki killed via a crowbar the Kaibutsu is holding. As an added note, swinging around your pipe at everything may result in some serious consequences. Mainly, smacking a Kaibutsu in a specific foggy area shall turn the whole place rusted and horrific.
  • Weather Control Machine: The Watering Can effect makes it rain in varying degrees, from a slight drizzle to a downpour.
  • Womb Level: One major area is a cavern full of fleshy walls, with a few rooms that resemble organs. Also, one can hear a dull thumping noise like a heart beat.
  • Your Head Asplode: Happens in several events.
    • After you activate the event that starts the endgame, this happens if you bump into too many red demons.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Sabitsuki's dreams are so bloody that the blood appears in her normal room.
  • Your Reward Is Clothes: A number of effects, but especially the Hoodie effect, which has no action at all associated with it and only purpose seems to be making Sabitsuki wear a hoodie. Though as of 1.0 you can raise and lower the hood. Some of the new effects serve the same purpose, like the funeral gown and the school uniform. Until you think about what this means to Sabitsuki...