Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
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.
FINAL RATING: 9/10