Review by Muck0 Man
"They call me the breeze"
Flower is a title I really had no prior interest in until after it's release when I saw people actually saying they enjoyed it. Now I am always looking out for games that try something different, especially in this current gaming generation where firearms are present in what seems like half of the titles released, so I decided to take the risk and download Flower. One thing I must say before I even start this review is if you lack the open mind to try out new gaming ideas or only enjoy violence and mindless mayhem to stay clear of Flower. This is a title that tries more to mimic virtual art rather than any traditional game format. That being said it still controls well for the type of game it is, even if playability isn't it's high point.
Gameplay: 7/10 To put it simply Flower is the easiest game to learn the controls for on the PS3. All you need to do is turn the PS3 controller to steer and hold any button to accelerate. That's it. No complex maneuvers, special attacks, or upgrades; it's just you and the wind. Now this could have been horribly gimmicky but to my surprise the controls are well done and actually enjoyable to play. It doesn't take long before you'll find yourself soaring at high speeds twisting your arm wildly to turn directions.
You start an area as a single flower petal and you must use the power of the wind to guide the petal to other flowers, thus blooming it and adding a petal to the group. You must explore the large open plain to bloom all the flowers and open up the next area. For what it does accomplish in gameplay it does fairly well. Flower boils down to a game of discovery as you dart across the level blooming flowers you come across. By doing so you restore life back to the land and do so until the entire area is completely restored. Some people will be disappointed in it's lack of depth but the game was never meant to be weighted down with additional features and keeps the main objective of blooming flowers the focal point the whole way through the game.
As you progress some of the levels add additional elements to bump up the difficulty but the game never presents itself as a challenge. There really is no way to lose and the game encourages you to experience things at your own pace rather than putting you under some time restraint. This game is all about the beauty of the experience and leaving the player up to making most of the assumptions about what is going on.
Story: 7/10 Now a lot of people will see this score and go. What story is he talking about?! Well yes while this game never explains anything relative to you through speech or text its story is conveyed effectively by the actions you make on your journey. Once it finally ends I think you will agree with me that for a game with no story Flower has a lot to say.
That being said it isn't perfect. Although you can pretty much piece the story together on your own there are still a few things you will probably wish they fleshed out a bit more. You start the game in a room with the camera focused on flower pots on a windowsill. Upon learning the controls you begin to enter each of the flower's dreams and bring the beauty of nature back to the land.
While I feel the concept of entering a flower's dream is interesting, the way they're initiated just doesn't do it for me. You are displayed a series of images that move and set you up for the dream you are about to partake in. Honestly I think they could have done something a bit better in 2009 besides still images with some movements, it really takes away from the immersion that the rest of the game possesses. Nevertheless it's only a small gripe I have and not one all gamers will find a problem with.
Graphics: 9/10 If anything Flower's graphically beauty will definitely grab your attention when you enter that first dream. For a downloaded game, Flower really takes full advantage of the PS3 hardware and dishes out an experience never seen before by gamers. The vast raw landscape that is presented in front of you is brimming with such detail and beauty that it's the reason most people will see this as art more than a game. The realism presents itself as an experience to discovery the raw beauty of nature. Every blade of grass realistically flows in the wind and the lighting and special little touches really will make you feel like you're there with those petals. My personal favorite effect is the reflective lighting given off by the wet grass when you're inches away from it, it's amazing!
Each level possesses it's own artistic look but sadly the last few levels of Flower are the weakest graphically. This is my only gripe as I feel the first few levels will levels will leave the best impression on most players. In the end this game will change what you come to expect out of graphics in downloadable games.
Sounds: 9/10 The music is very relaxing and does a great job to set the mood for the gameplay. Not only that but when you move over flowers they will sound a chime, helping incorporate the music into the gameplay. While not hugely necessary, it does push forward the idea that sound is just as important to the experience as is the visual aspect.
Now my favorite aspect of the sound isn't even the music but the atmospheric sounds. It does a wonderful job of accompanying the graphics and make you feel like you really are out in these big open grassy plains. The sound of grass blades parting, changes in wind speed, and the sharp roar of thunder is done effectively well. The whole ambiance of it all really puts you in the environment, making it that much more of a personal experience
Replayability: 7/10 For the most of us, Flower will only take a few hours to breeze through. To bloom all the flowers and get all the achievements will take a few additional playthroughs but other than that the only reason to replay the game is for the experience again. This is a game to sit back and relax on and show off the visual beauty the PS3 is capable of creating. For $10 dollars I feel you get a unique experience like no other that any gamer will feel satisfied with.
To Buy or not buy? Buy! Seriously for $10 dollars you'd be missing out one of the most unique games this generations and one that shows how far games have gone to becoming an art form that can convey an experience like no other entertainment medium. Flower has enough polish that any skepticism you have for this title should be thrown aside and must be experienced by any gamer that has been looking for "something different" or "artistically beautiful".
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 07/15/09
Game Release: flower (US, 02/12/09)
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