Preview Date: May 31, 2010
Developer: Runaway Play
Genre: Side-scrolling Adventure
Release Date: Currently in beta
As a division of NHNZ -- a natural history focused documentary production company based out of New Zealand -- it's no surprise that developer Runaway Play's first game has such a huge focus on the natural world. Currently in an open beta, Flutter lets you explore a lush tropical rainforest while playing as a butterfly. And though there isn't a whole lot to do at the moment, the potential is definitely there, as the game feels like a cross between Ecco the Dolphin and Flower.
In Flutter you play as a butterfly. You aren't given much in the way of direction when the game begins, but the main goal is to explore. You can fly around the 2D environment, collecting honey dew, or HD, which serves as the currency in the game. You earn HD by collecting sparkly bits located throughout the rainforest, as well as by pollinating flowers or by reaching a new experience level.
You can use the HD for a number of different things. First and foremost it can be used to clear away foliage, which opens up new paths to explore. You can also use the HD to decorate your Home Grove, a separate area of the game. Here you can purchase decorations of flowers and plants, but also caterpillars, which can be nurtured into butterflies after some time.
The first thing you'll probably notice upon booting up Flutter is just how wonderful it looks. The 2D graphics are absolutely gorgeous, and truly make you feel as if you're exploring a lush, tropical rainforest. Everything is bright and colorful and sports a stylized, hand drawn look that outshines nearly every game on Facebook. Adding to the atmosphere is the subtle, soothing soundtrack, which really adds to the game's mellow vibe.
There are a few issues with the game, though, which will hopefully be ironed out over the coming weeks. The flying controls feel a little bit wonky, when the music loops you're subjected to a very jarring moment of silence, and there seems to be little in the way of social features at the moment, a necessity on a platform like Facebook. There also isn't a whole lot to do once you've explored the small area initially available, aside from wait. The game uses a time-based system to keep you coming back, as caterpillars need be nurtured at specific intervals and flowers can be re-pollinated after three hours.
But in spite of these issues, it's easy to see promise in the game. Not only is it stunning to look at, but it's a rare game that focuses on the natural world instead of a fantasy one, giving you the opportunity to explore a location you probably otherwise couldn't visit. And with the developers promising to add new features and updates on a weekly basis, it might not be long before Flutter blooms into the next big Facebook game.