A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to get my hands on Flower and was able to play a couple “chapters.” Sadly, I was unable to play through the entire experience at that time. To my delight, though (thanks J-Roll), I have been able to once again get my hands on the game a couple days ago, and here’s my review.
Flower is not a game about collecting points, gaining levels, or filling aliens with lead. More or less, it is a game where the player defines their own unique experience. If you don’t want to have objectives, you don’t have to. If you don’t like having a story-driven plotline, it doesn’t exist. With very few elements of a typical game, what makes Flower an actual game? Read on to find out.
Flower (PlayStation Network)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Released: January 12, 2009
Flower does more than entertain or amuse. It stimulates one’s senses to get an emotional response. It can quickly and easily take a person away from stress and tension into a world of relaxation, color, and sublime subtlety. The experience can be called divine.
One of the most remarkable features of the game is its presentation. Flower’s visuals are truly a work of art and do everything they can to entice the player and draw them into each chapter on an emotional level. The earliest scenes are blissful and leave your imagination to run wild. You start in giant open environments with a minimal amount of scenery to distract you. You will fly around vast fields of grass in which there may be no less than 800 gazillion blades of grass at once which all move realistically with every gust of wind. The further you venture into the game, the gloomier the environment becomes, uncovering man-made objects such as twisted metal and wind turbines.
Speaking of wind, what better way to control a flower petal than by harnessing the power of wind itself? There is no better way! Each level begins by having a gust of wind blow a petal off a flower out of an apartment window and into the playable environment. You control the wind by tilting the controller, causing it to go in any direction you could imagine. If you don’t like floating in one spot all day, you can press and hold any button to blow wind (accelerate).
Once you become familiar with movement you can dig deeper into the game’s themed levels blossoming flowers to collect a petal from them which adds to your cluster. When you are ready to advance the plot, you must complete very simplistic tasks like lighting a hay bail or collecting a certain number of blue petals. Some levels are slow and allow you to drift leisurely around while others force you to move at high speeds through a windy valley.
Unlike other games that try to tack on non-engaging motion control schemes, Flower has a very fluent feel and will always react the way you want it to. As you gather your flower petals, you won’t encounter any problems. A major part of that is how you hold the controller. Instead of holding it in a standard position, you hold it horizontally.
One could probably argue that a game built around motion controls would be experimental. In Flower’s case, that is entirely untrue. The game was built from the ground up for it and is very well sculpted.
Flower has goals and boundaries. Petals that need gathered are denoted with a luminescent sphere around them that easily catch your eye. Although you can fly around forever, you won’t be able to roam anywhere you want. If you approach the “edge” of a level, the wind is taken from your control to force the flurry of petals back within the boundaries.
When you’ve exhausted an area of petals to collect, you’ll be granted access to new areas within a level. Between some levels, you’ll be forced to be carried on wind, very much on rails, although still allowing you to collect petals scattered around. Some of the harder to reach petals even reveal scenery which appears immediately in the solemn environments. They also affect the outlook of the game.
Flower tells a story. It has a silent narrative that you get to be a part of shaping. It’s hard to pretend to know exactly what the designers want you to feel; however there is definitely an overarching theme. There’s obviously room for your own interpretation of it, but Flower is still a game about a petal-gathering soldier defending yourself from darkness and protecting the utopian city you’ve become familiar with.
Flower is a simple game. It has a mixture of experimental elements such as roaming around, an interpretive narrative, and relaxing design. The music is even generated by your actions!
I only had one issue with this game and it’s still trivial. It is incredibly short. By short, I mean a couple hours max if you don’t try to collect everything. If you were to do that, you could probably spend several more hours playing it. There is replay value as the game is very calming and can be played through again to gather everything and earn all the trophies (there are 14).
Flower is an amazing game that I’d definitely recommend to anyone looking for a new game to download from the Playstation Store. The visuals are delightfully attractive while maintaining a stylized look. if you are looking for a new experience unlike anything seen in games prior to this, then you shouldn’t hesitate in purchasing this title.
Score: 10 -- Flawless (10's demonstrate the most amount of fun you can have without the need to change your pants. They are amazing in every aspect. No faults. If anything could make Chuck Norris shed a tear, it would be this game.)