Flower is one of those games that is just impossible to explain. Well, that’s not true, I can explain it perfectly, it just won’t sound fun or make much sense. But I’ll do it anyway and then we will move on from there.
In Flower you start off as a single petal floating in a field. You then hold down any button on the controller to make you move (well, make the wind blow behind you) and you use the six-axis to control your movements up and down, left and right. And off you go. Eventually you will notice other flowers on the ground, and you will fly through them, and more petals will join you on your journey. Once you have enough petals, you can start to affect the world. I won’t get into specifics about what you do, but each level ups the ante on the affect you have on the world. I guess it wouldn’t be a huge spoiler to say that it’s positive.
In this age of Killzone 2 and Call of Duty, it’s hard to try to sell an idea where you are a flower petal floating around a beautiful field. My friends and I have actually joked that “this game is too gay for the Xbox 360.” There is zero testosterone in this game… and my god is it refreshing. The game is just a glorious experience. You fire it up and start floating around and you just smile. I don’t care if you are an angsty 15 year old that plays Halo 3 for 8 hours a night or you a 31 year old aging hipster who is working on a new PSN video game site… this game will bring you joy. It’s universal joy, it cannot be denied!
The main complaint about the game is that it is too short. And it is. But it’s not. The game takes anywhere from 1 to 3 hours to complete. I can’t lie, that’s short. I can point out that the game only costs $10, but then you could point me at my Pixel Junk Monsters review where I say that I’ve played for over 60 hours for $15. And I can’t argue with that. But, one defense is that the game has absolutely gorgeous graphics. Jaw dropping! And the sound design is also top notch. The graphics and sound rival anything you could buy for $60, where most $10 games forsake graphics for gameplay…. this game doesn’t, the gameplay is also top notch. But a corner needs to be cut somewhere for this game to be a $10 game, and length is where it is. But you will want to play it more than once, guaranteed. And if you are a trophy whore, you will need to play it quite a few times. But I think it’s safe to say that at max you will get 10 hours worth of gameplay out of this game in the short term.
But like most amazing gaming experiences, you need to think beyond the short term. This game will be on your hard drive for the rest of this generation, it’s not like you can trade it in at the store. And I can absolutely see months from now just sitting down one saturday afternoon and playing through it again. And doing that every few months for the next 4 years. It’s that good.
Ok, enough about the length! This is one of the few experiences on any system that transcends videogames. Give the controller to your girlfriend/wife and just watch the joy on her face as she flies around. Bring it to a family gathering and watch as your grandparents talk about how beautiful it is. Or play it by yourself, in a dark room, and just space out and let your mind wander and think about life, the universe, nature, and whatever other hippy thoughts that we typically spend our days beating out of our heads.
This game puts the final nail in the coffin of the “videogames are not art” crowd. If this game is not art… art doesn’t exist. Yeah, it’s that good.
I don’t know that Flower is going to be some mega-blockbuster that breaks down walls in gaming. The prospect of 15 year old FPS bad asses picking this up and finding the experience refreshing sounds like it could only happen in an alternate universe. I do see my brother-in-law, the hard working laborer, laughing hysterically at me if he was to catch me playing it.
Flower is quite plainly a video game where you are a flower petal floating in the wind, on a journey to make your world beautiful. The game is simple and it looks pretty damned good for a $10.00 title. If you have an appreciation for video games for reasons that go beyond how awesome your skills are, I believe that you will enjoy this game.
I handed the controller to my wife, a staunch non-gamer, unless you count Tetris and Lumines. She digs puzzle games but never lasts more than a couple minutes on anything else. When my wife began playing she looked amazed. After getting over the idea of playing a flower petal she was able to navigate quite naturally without any instruction. Almost instantly she was hooked. The entire concept was so unexpected for her that she had to continue on, and she did. Until that is I kicked her off. It was well past our bedtime at that point and I was ready to pass out. Anyways, the reason I am telling you this is because I believe the game does translate well to a certain category of non-gamers.
If you have a lady friend you want to impress. Let her catch you playing this game. She will ponder your deep feelings and surely you will get some action. Seriously though, let your wife, mom, daughter or whoever try it out. I’m not promising some intense reaction, but they may be pleasantly surprised. I consider the game worth every penny.
Flower, a pacman like adventure without the ghosts, points, lives, or mazes.
As stated by my fellow gamers, Flower is not going to be a game for everyone. Even that statement seems somewhat flawed. Flower is less of a game and more of a toy one plays with. I think the chances of a hardcore FPS fan playing with this is much improved by sugar coating the description. In Flower, you play as the deadly force of wind who is hell bent on breaking weak flowers apart and banishing dead plants from existence. Yup, that sounds better. As the Reaper’s breathe, it is your one purpose to bust open areas of flowers to unlock more unsuspecting flowers and additional levels.
Flower is what a casual game should be. From the moment I started it, I had a smile on my face that did not leave. The sounds, the sights, the feelings Flower gives are very unique. In the beginning, I found myself trying to force the gameplay. Moving very slow, trying to collect every bud in an exact order. It immediately became apparent that this was not the way to play. Once I just let go of the normal rules of gaming and played it, the real fun began. Flying around like a bird on acid proved to be well worth the $10. Going with the FLOW and letting the game do what it does is the only way to play.
Sounds and Visuals: Beautiful game. The graphics fit the game design to a tee. This may not be a show piece for graphics whores, but no one can deny its allure and feeling of peace. I don’t believe the game would be what it is without the sound design. The sound of the grass as you fly through, coupled with the light piano keys, proves to be the games greatest strength.
Controls and Gameplay: Flower uses the six axis controls as they were intended. Not only do they work flawlessly, they seem to be the only way the game can be played. Perfect. I only hope they pimp the controls out to other companies because they are too good to waste. Unless they make a sequel. Perhaps they could bring in the bird on acid thing. Bird: Flower Slaughter Evolved.
NGC (Non Gamer Chance): 4of 5. I think that just about anyone who has the controller handed to them will enjoy this game. With no knowledge of the complex controllers gamers are accustomed to, a non gamer will be able to fly with the best of them in a matter of minutes. My girlfriend was showing me up in under 5 minutes.
Bottom line: Still smiling/10. If you can allow yourself to just sit back and experience something new, this game is a must buy. Everyone from a child to a seasoned war veteran can find something to enjoy here. Although I don’t see myself playing this every other day, I can say it will be in my list of top games for some time. If you sport a Halo tattoo, this might not be for you.