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Flower review

Great
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AT A GLANCE
  • Fantastic atmosphere
  • Good motion controls
  • Chance to "be" the wind
  • Pretty short
  • Not much actual "game"
  • No guns

Flower is likely to inspire the sort of purple prose that always appears whenever games skirt the periphery of ‘art’; but to bury the game under a load of pretentious hyperbole is to do it a disservice. The concept – guide a bunch of petals around evocative landscapes, gradually bringing colour and life back to the world – is strong enough that such prose is redundant. This is a beautiful, immediately enjoyable experience in its own right and you shouldn’t let the seeming pretension of the concept put you off.

The game is framed within an initially miserable apartment in a dark and dingy urban setting. Each of the six stages is presented as a wilted flower on a shelf; tilt the controller to select one, press any button to zoom in and be transported to a dream-like rural landscape. Once inside the first stage, there’s an immediate hit of the unfamiliar. From the control scheme to the setting, to your ‘goals’ in the game world, Flower is an unusual experience. There’s just enough here to qualify being called a game, but it’s one where elements such as sound, atmosphere and animation are brought to the foreground and more primary game-play elements, like control, are minimized.

The purpose in each stage is to rejuvenate the environment by directing an ever-expanding ribbon of petals into the glowing flowers dotted around. Each flower you brush against will bloom and add petals to your collection; make enough of them bloom and a previously drab patch of earth will turn an illustrious green, a dead tree will be reborn, or a rock formation will crumble, allowing you to pass. Steering the petals is as simple as tilting the controller from side to side and holding any button to move forward on the breeze. It’s a distinctive experience that’s difficult to express – essentially you control the wind, and use it to direct petals caught within your gust.

Flower doesn’t threaten with failure and puts few obstacles in your path. It takes a while to discover all the flowers but that’s the only challenge you face. None of this matters, at least at first, because of the inherent joy you experience from movement. There’s a refreshing freedom to rippling through the most realistic grass we’ve ever seen, or flying carelessly through the air. It takes a while before you notice that much of the freedom is illusory – the stages are actually quite small, barriers of wind preventing you from venturing into the horizon – but you never become complacent with the thrill of flight. It’s at least as satisfying as Mirror’s Edge’s first-person parkour.

Despite the deceptively bright and sunny opening stage, the tone soon shifts, and you find yourself in some contrasting, moody and oppressive environments. The dark, lonely atmosphere recalls Shadow of the Colossus – as does the mournful orchestral soundtrack. It’s almost a shame that your job is to heal this blighted world, because the stormy, rain-soaked environments are so evocative. As you rejuvenate the stages your progression is subtly marked by the flowers in the apartment blooming and the room itself becoming sunny and colorful.

Static cut-scenes appear between levels, depicting the urban sprawl of the city undergoing similar changes. These brief moments are the only ‘story’ the game needs, tying a loose collection of stages together into a unified whole.


 
The last level actually buys into this city-healing theme by presenting a miserable cityscape and tasking you with bringing it back to life. It’s a wonderful climax and a powerful moment in its own right. The only real problem with Flower is its length. The six stages will take, at most, about three hours to plough through. There’s little replay value – aside from obsessively collecting every petal, or wheeling out the title to prove to relatives that games aren’t all about murderizing people and racing really fast – but the time you spend playing Flower will make an impact. It may barely qualify as a game in the traditional sense but Flower’s evocative world deserves to be experienced by all.

Feb 12, 2009

More Info

Release date: Nov 15 2013 - PS Vita, PS4
Feb 12 2009 - PS3 (US)
Feb 12 2009 - PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS Vita, PS4, PS3
Genre: Other Games/Compilations
Published by: SCEA
Developed by: thatgamecompany
ESRB Rating:
Everyone

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10 comments

  • chewbroccli - February 14, 2009 3:01 p.m.

    no kidding ^
  • Kruiser - February 14, 2009 10:44 a.m.

    looks like sarcasm is lost on us
  • key0blade - February 14, 2009 1:57 a.m.

    lol got an 8 b/c "no guns"
  • garnsr - February 13, 2009 4:26 p.m.

    I like this better than flOw, it's cooler to swoop around with your great long string of petals. I don't know why people say there's no game, you have to guide your petals through the flowers, like Pilotwings or other hoopy flying games. Very cool.
  • proteus1288 - February 13, 2009 4:07 a.m.

    Actually, I'll be quite happy that there are no guns, I'm rather sick of the glut of shooters nowadays.
  • DopePhizh - July 8, 2009 6:59 p.m.

    This is a really relaxing game. Really great for those breaks between hard pumped actiongames and many hours of RPG. Stunning atmosphere and really soothing sound. All in all a really great game. This is pretty easy to play (even my mother played it and loved it). A little short but there are "hidden objects" that give at least some meaning to play through the 6 levels (if the soothing sound and realaxing colorful graphics isnt enough) so it has at least a little longevity. Graphics: 7/10 Sound: 8/10 Gameplay: 6/10 Longevity: 4/10 Value: 8/10 Overall: 7/10 Conclusion: A descent game. Nice and soothing. A great game of you have to get your mother, girlfriend or whoever thinks you are stupid because you keep buying al those games to understand just a litle bit. Its really slow paste and without any real action so if your one of those people who has to be constantly entertained this is not for you. But if you feel like taking some time to relax and just go down a gear this game is great.
  • austinite04 - February 25, 2009 12:36 a.m.

    This game certainly has replayablity. The trophies you see as ?????? are unlocked when you play FLOWER over and over again. I am glad I bought this game. It is a NICE change from the normal shoot and decapitate games. Im wondering what the definition of GAME is to GAMESRADAR.com since under the "you'll hate" part they say this isn't a game. Sorry Gamesradar.com your totally wrong. Its not short in anyway, like I said before the more you play the more you UNLOCK!! Gamesradar.com how about unlocking all the trophies BEFORE reviewing on this site!! You have no idea how good this game is, it's far from the run of the mill and, achieves what no game can. Playing without violence whatsoever. If anyone finds this game to be violent in anyway needs to get them selves check by a shrink. I like FLOWER and I will not delete this game off my 60 GIG HDD PS3 (launch model, the best one ever)
  • garnsr - February 15, 2009 10:15 p.m.

    I've played through all the levels, and there were a few that I didn't find all of the special flowers, so it's clearly a game, not just a demo like Linger in Shadows. I think most reviews are doing it a disservice by saying it's not much of a game, just because you get to swoop around without killing anything.
  • sniper430 - February 13, 2009 2:04 a.m.

    just bought it... hey GR flOw only lasted about three hours too maybe less, that was basically a classic...
  • norid - February 13, 2009 1:42 a.m.

    first looks very calming a pretty

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