The pioneers that brought you the award-winning PlayStation®Network title flOw are back with another concept that challenges traditional gaming conventions. Flower expands the team’s tradition of delivering simple gameplay, accessible controls and a medium to explore emotional chords uncommon in video games. In Flower, the surrounding environment, most often pushed to the background in games, is pulled to the forefront and becomes the primary “character.” The player fades from an external and stressful world in the opening of this fresh and genuine game only for PS3, and journeys through beautifully vivid landscapes, changing the his surroundings and exploring nature along the way.
Reviewed February 2009 by Keith Murray
The normal stance of videogames is one of aggression and confrontation but for developers `thatgamecompany`, a more cerebral approach is preferred. This is never more apparent than with their latest title, Flower.
From the intro screen onwards, Flower makes it clear that this is a gentle excursion. The splash screen invites the player to “Tilt the controller to soar, Press any button to blow wind, Relax, enjoy” and such eloquent words sum up Flower’s appeal and game mechanic perfectly.
An almost Koyaanisquati style envelopes Flower initially, a modern world out of balance with nature, but thankfully minus the oppressive Phillip Glass soundtrack. This theme continues with the main menu (if you can call it that) portraying a drab window sill framing a solitary plant pot. By gently tilting the controller and pressing a button to select the pot, the player’s introduction to the world of Flower is set in motion. Upon finishing a level, a new pot appears and the player can revisit each to find hidden flowers, etc.
Tilting the pad in different directions, and pressing any button to keep hold of all flower petals, you gather momentum through the different areas. The gentle pluck of a guitar string rings as you brush against a flower, releasing its petals and adding them to the ones already acquired. Once a certain amount are collected a graphical flourish envelopes an area, transforming it from drab and subdued to a vibrant, lush setting. Midway through the game, a subtle twist occurs which hints at 1950`s Disney-styled animation, conveying an unsettling sense of not quite evil, but certainly malicious intent.
Although linear in execution, Flower manages to foster the illusion of open-ended exploration, being able to find hidden sections by riding the wind to more out of the way places, and encouraging replay once the experience is finished. The exquisite feeling of moving across thick grass, seeking out new flowers, transforming areas, married to the sense of joy this brings is quite extraordinary and quite unlike anything else out there right now.
With so many themes and what, on times, feels like social commentary placed within such an intimate setting, Flower runs the gamut of emotions and could provoke debate with some of the imagery used (what feels like a nod towards the Twin Towers amongst others) but ultimately it’s abiding feeling is one of joy and freedom. Flower isn’t so much a game as an experience, one that will hopefully be shared by many more with neither control nor exposition a barrier to entry.
Maybe the world is out of balance, but introducing Flower into your life might help tip the scales back into place.