Flower- A Minireview
Flower, developed by ThatGameCompany (developers of Flow and Cloud), was released in February of this year on the PlayStation Network. Initially I was not interested in this game, as at first glance it appears to be little more than a screensaver. Ironically an idle screensaver of Flower is one of the things that I wish was included in the package.
First things first, the game is gorgeous. The flower petals, grass, and lighting effects are verdant, vibrant, and full of life. Blades of grass ripple in waves as the wind blows, and petals swirl majestically around and around. The music is top notch, gentle and unobtrusive, with a mild but nonetheless moving presentation. Soft guitars and other musical cues accompany your actions in a way that is both poignant, and subtle.
Gameplay is simple, yet features some of the best Sixaxis controls I have seen to date. The direction of the wind is controlled with sixaxis functionality, and holding any button increases the wind speed adding momentum to your slowly wafting petals. As the wind, you blow one petal into a flower, gathering more and more petals, in a beautiful elegant take on Katamari Damacy. Brushing against certain flowers will cause an area to eb revitalized and become greener, more lush, and more vibrant, as well as sprouting new flowers. Gameplay progresses through a handful of levels, and while more would certainly be nice, the story such as it fits nicely into the small framework.
The best part of Flower is the experience. There is a simple exhilarating thrill to be derived from this game, but at the same time, it can be very calm and relaxing. I will go into further detail, but bear in mind having the experience described will lessen the impact of experiencing it yourself. FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES CONSIDER THIS A SPOILER WARNING AND READ ON AT YOUR OWN RISK.
While the first levels deal with fairly open countryside, later levels introduce metal girders and electrical towers, culminating in a dark, thunderous, lightning filled level, where your cloud of petals can actually be singed by the electricity, which was surprising and due to my investment in the game at this point downright troubling. The final level begins in darkness, as you slowly move into a city, coming into contact with flowers and bringing life and color back to the area in an emotional rush the likes of which is rarely seen in video games. As the city springs back to life you encounter a giant tower built of girders and jutting metal pieces, and ascend it, knocking aside and clearing it away as you climb. While a simple concept, the scope of this whole level brought on a moment of near euphoria as the simple beauty of it all said more than could the most masterfully crafted dialogue.
END OF SPOILERS
Despite having only played this title recently, it has made my list of all time favorites. While its beauty may be lost on some people, for those receptive to it there is a tremendous experience in store. For those looking for something more traditional, there are trophies, as well as secret flowers scattered about each level. All in all my only real regret with Flower was that I waited until now to pick it up. While it may only loosely fit into preconceived notions of what a ‘game’ should be, the ride it takes you on is worth the 10 dollars, if not more. I highly recommend this title.