Say what you will about the PSN service but when it comes to original online games there is no denying that its offerings represent some of the most engrossing titles that gaming has to offer. Since its launch it has become home to an assortment of unconventional but quirky titles such as PixelJunk Eden and Flow and has cultivated an environment where developers such as Q-Games and ThatGameCompany can realise their most ‘out their’ concepts and indulge their pretentious and esoteric artistic whims, in some cases, with the backing and encouragement of big name companies such as Sony.
Flower is the latest title from outside-the-box-gaming developers ‘ThatGameCompany’; it retains the same simple and approachable gameplay style previously featured in their first PSN contribution Flow. The player takes control of an ethereal breeze on a predestined mission of rejuvenation, following in the footsteps of Amaterasu of Okami fame and the Prince of Persia the resolute gust of air must soar through six gardens in an effort to reinvigorate them by carrying the petals of other flowers throughout the gardens and in passing injecting life back into the withering life-forms.
Although the objective and gameplay are very simple playing Flower initially can feel like a bit of a struggle, this is because the game is played using the Six-Axis motion control system, although it isn’t the most robust motion control system out there it is well suited to the game, once acclimated with the manoeuvring and acceleration based mechanics of movement controlling the stream of petals becomes second nature, you’ll soon find yourself flying through the gardens with ease.
Flowers greatest accomplishment is how well it sets the mood and atmosphere of each garden, the various facets of the game work symbiotically and meld together to create and maintain immersion, the painstakingly rendered grass and foliage is dripping with vivid colours, the lighting effects compliment the colourful art style by giving the environments the tranquil feel of an idyllic Eden and the music perfectly communicates and enhances the theme and mood of the gardens. Complimenting the music is a humble rhythm game element, each flower makes a sound and together they essentially act as a supplementary botanical orchestra contributing to the overall symphony.
Although it is possible to get a sense of how the game looks from screenshots, in order to truly experience the sense of euphoria the game creates you have to play it, especially since the screenshots aren’t indicative of all the different environments Flower has to offer.
Flower is a unique game, not only in terms of concept and gameplay but also because it is the kind of game where despite how many people write reviews or impressions on it you can never truly get a grasp of what it has to offer or the what the experience is like (way to invalidate everything said so far), it’s a game which everyone should play if only to form a personal opinion on it, in my case I can safely say that the three hours I spent playing Flower were three solid hours of breathtaking gaming.
Close your eyes, go to your happy place, imagine a soothing breeze, grass calmly swaying in the wind, air whistling as it passes through the thousands of delicate blades of grass – now open your eyes, and fly.