If you haven’t noticed…and you probably haven’t, I have not written much lately. Truth be told, there hasn’t been a lot in gaming that has inspired me in the past couple of weeks. That is, until tonight. Flower has been on the Playstation Store now for roughly six or seven hours and in that time, I can safely say this game has answered the video games as art argument with a resounding, YES!
This review is not going to be very long because the game is not very long and it is hard to do justice to it without letting you just play it and experience it for yourself. The premise is simple, tilt the controller and press any button to make the wind blow. That is it. Of course there is more to it, but really how much can I say about a series of flower petals blowing in the wind? At first glance, the game looks like some kind of tech demo you would see at a video game convention but there is so much more to this game it is crazy. It is calming, like mid-1980s-artsy-watercolor-cartoons calming. If I were to describe the game’s graphics and overall feel, I would say it was the bastard child of the old school Polar Express that is just music and watercolors flowing past your screen with the graphical bite of Mirror’s Edge. This game is amazingly fluid and you just need to let go and take it in.
I do have several suggestion before you run off to the Playstation Store and fork over your $9.99. First, don’t be an idiot like me and sit at the opening screen for ten minutes shaking your controller maniacally and wondering why nothing is going on. My controller was set to controller #2 and the game needs it to be on controller #1. Yes, I am that dumb sometimes. Secondly, while I do not condone drug use, if you have any acid, mushrooms, peyote, banana peels, or lickable toads, dose up now. I can’t even begin to imagine what this game would be like while on a trip. This game was so surrealistic for me sober that I can only guess that this would be like playing croquet with God if you were high. And he was letting you win.
Now on to aspects of the game I can actually objectively review. The mechanics in Flower are flawless, tilt the controller and press a button, done. The learning curve to this game is gentle but once you start playing, keep an eye out for patterns and try to get all of the flowers with halos around them. If you do those two things in the first level, the game does a pretty good job of visually laying out your objectives and later levels will feel very natural. The other cool thing about this game is that there is no time limit, no dying, and the levels are pretty flexible as far as how you complete your objectives to keep things moving along. Flower was designed to sooth and exhilarate at the same time, just let the game do what it was meant to do. There is no right or wrong, just wind and petals.
On a parting note, if you are a guns-blazing, every-video-game-I-play-must-have-blood-and-action, this experience is not for you. For the videolamer staff this won’t be a problem, but for any newcomers looking at this review before you buy the game, if you are expecting tense and action packed sequences you will be very disappointed. If anyone other than me does snag this game, let me know what your favorite level is. Mine is the night time countryside level where you have to light up the power lines and spin the old wagon wheel.
I don’t know what else to say; try Flower and see if it meshes with you. It made me a very happy man tonight*.