Monday, September 12, 2016

Game Review: Flower (Playstation 3, 2009)

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Developer: thatgamecompany

Time to Complete: 2-3 hours

Developed exclusively for the Playstation Network, Flower is one of the more interesting games to come down the pike in some time. Upon its debut, it was referred to by some as a "tech demo" for the Playstation 3 hardware. There is certainly more to it than that. Purchasable for a mere $10, Flower is a sublime experience that anyone can enjoy, whether they're a gamer or not.

Flower is a very simple game. At the outset, you play as a lone flower petal. As that petal, you float on the wind around six nature-themed levels (seven if you count the credits - yes, the credits are a level), hitting other flower petals (which, after a musical chime, then follow you). The objective is to collect as many other petals as possible, as well as achieve various objectives. Before long, the player amasses so many flower petals that they're controlling what can only be described as a flower comet.

The six levels are represented in one of the cooler stage select screens (if it can be called that, as the game has linear progression) that I've ever seen: a windowsill with flower pots on it. Each level has its own wilted flower as representation, and once you finish a level that particular flower will perk up. Thus, ultimately you end up with all six flowers (well, almost) looking lively. Though it does strike me as odd that there is a space in the middle, almost like another stage was planned and didn't make it. I've been hoping for a DLC level for a long time; unfortunately, as of press time it doesn't seem to be in the cards.

There's no way to "die" in Flower, which makes it an ideal game to relax with. This isn't to say that the game is easy. It takes some effort to find all of the flowers and secrets, and some of the game's trophies are tricky to get - especially the one that requires you to pass through the fifth area without getting zapped by any power lines. Intrepid players who go for that one are in for quite the challenge.

The controls of the game are outstanding. It uses the Playstation 3's motion controls. No, not the Wiimote-like knockoff. The regular PS3 controller. Indeed, the regular PS3 controller has motion controls... chances are few people know this, because they're so underused. In Flower, you tilt the controller in the air to turn in different directions and guide your flower comet around at high speed. At first, the controls are fairly difficult to get the hang of - specifically, the speed of travel, much like driving a car for the first time - but once you do, the controls become almost second nature. The game handles so well that it could make a case for more flight-related games having motion controls.

Each of the game's levels has its own mood, atmosphere, and sights to see. The game takes you on an emotional journey of sorts; the levels start out light hearted and peaceful, then slowly become more dark and frightening as technology and industrialism creep their way into the once tranquil meadows. At least it lightens up again by the end. There is a definite pro-nature, anti-industrial message to be found in Flower.

Besides being a relaxing experience, the game seems to champion "simpler" times and places that mankind has not yet steamrolled over. By the time the final level rolls around, the game swoops in and lifts you out of the darker themes, delivering a bright and powerful final level that is nothing short of exhilarating. The game has no dialogue or characters; yet in a way, a story is told, conveyed by whatever emotions that you experience as your noble flower petals soar towards their destiny.

Flower is short, taking only 2 to 3 hours to finish. Since there's no way to die, there isn't too much variance in time from start to finish. Some of it depends on how fast any given person gets the hang of the controls. However, with the trophies and general fun of it all, players will want to revisit this game even after it's finished. Finishing it isn't the point... the journey is, and it's a journey meant to be revisited. This game is more than worth the $10 price tag. It's a peaceful, tranquil experience that may well tug on your heartstrings.



  1. I don't know if I agree with you about the Flower being worth more than 10 dollars. But, maybe that's me being cheap. However, I agree with you about everything else, though.

    To me, what's best about Flower is how it shows that games alternative to the Call Of Duties and God of Wars of the world can work and work well.

    I'm glad you wrote a piece championing and recommending Flower because I'd recommend it, too. Playing Flower is a good way to see just how beautiful videogames can be. Normally, games exemplify just the opposite of that: they show us how intense, how gory, how overstimulating games can be.

    I think your best point in this piece on Flower is how well the game plays. The motion controls are basically perfect.

    I don't think many people would use the word "perfect" when describing the sixaxis controls and with good reason (most games cannot make any sort of use out of them). The Sixaxis is shitty motion control technology, but Flower's developers were able to make the shitty sixaxis controls really work for them in an impressive way.

    I haven't heard any chatter about a "Flower 2," but I have heard that Flower's creator is working on this new game called "Journey" that looks amazing.

  2. Really nice write up that you have there, I will see if I can get this posted up on the official thatgamecompany message board :)

    This would also be an excellent article to show to new players, to know a little more about the game itself.

  3. Wow, nice article. You're very right about how the controls become second nature. I can't even imagine trying to play this with a joystick. It just wouldn't be right.

  4. The game looks like the kind of relaxation I used to get out of Sky Odyssey. I should play it someday.

  5. I like it when a video game, a product of advanced technology, tells me to enjoy nature more. You see the same paradox in Miyazaki's movies, like "Princess Mononoke." Sometimes you have to go into the cave to get people out of it.

  6. Excellent article.