Flower (PlayStation 3) review
"The whole thing comes off as an interactive Fantasia: a beautiful and poignant blend of sound and movement that tells an active story."
Last week wasnít a good week for me. I got written up at work. My cat vomited in my bed. Netflix sent me the wrong disc. Maybe not too awful in the grand scheme of things, but enough to make me feel a touch under by the end of the week. Then I downloaded Flower. After playing for an hour, all the pain went away.
In Flower you control a single petal in a flowerís dream. Using only the PS3ís six-axis motion control, you steer the petal around stunning wind-swept free-roam environments, trying to collect petals from other flowers along the way and rejuvenate the landscape. The more flowers you collect, the more you begin to influence the environment, causing dead fields to erupt to life, or breaking apart cold granite structures to reveal new areas to explore. You canít die, so youíre free to explore and enjoy the scenery. Hitting any button summons the wind, so you also donít have to chase down air currents ŗ la Pilot Wings. The controls are simple and immersive, really making you feel like youíre swooping in and out of the wind. I often found myself leaning forward and back and moving side to side as I controlled my ever growing group of petals. Like I said, there definitely is a game here, but whether you enjoy Flower will rely heavily on whether or not you can get into the artistic feel of the game.
Because, really, Flower is much more than just a game. Though I feel ridiculous saying it, Flower ends up being a commentary on the very nature of life. But itís true. If you can get into Flowerís message, youíll see a story unwind of the fall and rebirth of civilization amidst the beauty of nature. Flower is a story of hope and rejuvenation unlike any Iíve ever come across. Without a single line of dialogue or any characters, it manages to paint a touching and emotional tale that I wonít forget any time soon.
Of course, not everyone is going to pick up on that. Iím sure thereís plenty of gamers who will download Flower, play it through, and delete it with a resounding shrug of indifference. Even these people are bound to let out a small sigh of amazement at some point, though. Flower is one of the best examples of masterful game design. No-one can play it without being touched at least once, even if ultimately they are able to turn away from the over-arching message.
It is design which imbues Flower with perfectly complimentary colours that make your eyes want to cry with pleasure. It is design which dictates that the grass part as you breeze through it, creating a wind stream that truly brings home the simile ďfields of green blowing like waves on a shore.Ē It is design which decided that the wonderful instrumental music would pick up as you move faster and would add notes as you picked up more variety of flowers. The whole thing comes off as an interactive Fantasia: a beautiful and poignant blend of sound and movement that tells an active story.
I do take a point off for some violent immersion-ejection that occurs at the end of levels, when the beautiful music has a tendency to get twitchy and laggy. Also, the game is very short. Normally I wouldnít complain about this. Iím a firm believer that developers should stop while they are ahead. Iíve seen too many games start a downward spiral half way through (cough Indigo Prophecy cough) , and Iím much more likely to be a fan of something beautiful and short than I am of something long and mediocre. But Thatgamecompany has made a Flower druggie out of me, and to cut my fix short is a cruel thing. I can only hope Flower is a gateway drug to more of this kind of wonderful.
Freelance review by Jonathan Stark (March 01, 2009)
Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.
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