Review by CChan

"The perfect game to unwind."

In a strange, grand scheme of things, Flower has become an unlikely preliminary game that gently introduces me to the prowess of the PS3 and the creativity of game developers as of late. That's right—a PSN game was the first PS3 game I've ever played, and the USD$9.99 price tag attached to it (or USD$4.99 if you're lucky enough to have gotten it during a brief sale last November) is worth every cent.

As the title may have implied, you play as a flower petal on a mission to bring floral life to the vast, open environment you're placed in (reminiscent of Okami for the PS2 and Wii). And to do that, your task is to “gather” other glowing flower petals by touching them, where you will bloom a growing number of flowers as you course through a level to completion. With a notable lack of precise instructions to guide you—and some may complain about this, as the only instructions you'd get are the control symbols that appear before you start the game—you're encouraged to explore and figure out on your own as to how to proceed further through a stage. For instance, a particular flower petal can cause the wind to pick up, while another petal of a different colour may result in the instant growth of other flowers in order for you to proceed through the game.

Even the controls themselves are intuitive and downright simple, though it may take a while to get used to the motion-sensing capabilities of your DualShock 3 (or the now defunct Sixaxis). You turn left or right by turning your controller appropriately towards the desired direction, while pressing any of the four buttons would enable you to gain speed through the power of the winds.

Graphics-wise, the visuals are arresting and every bit stunning, on par with other non-PSN titles in the market. Blades of glass and flower petals rendered in high-def gently swaying with the wind realistically, coupled together with the breathtaking sight of vast, proud, and beautiful plains are a sight to behold. And if you think that it's all happily ever after, think again. One level takes advantage of the play of light and shadow to instill a sense of sombre quietness, while another level pours with rain and flashes of lightning, generating a sense of fear at the unknown that lies ahead.

What exactly is up with this game then, you may ask? There is a vague, poetic story taking place, communicated through sights and sounds alone, and it's this very artistry that positions this indie game as unique and completely refreshing. It seems almost impossible that a game that centres around flowers could draw out a varying degree of emotions from players, but that's what that happens. The skillful weaving of serene music (or a lack of one in certain parts and/or stages) and effective sound effects contribute further to the rousing of these emotions; and if you allow yourself to be allayed by the grandeur of this game, perhaps you'd feel as melancholic as I was as my petal sashays through the final level.

As you can easily finish the entire game in just a few hours, there isn't much of a replay value, except for the secret flowers that you can collect—and their hiding places can be tricky—to complete that trophy collection of yours. Pursuing for trophies could easily add a few extra hours to the game.

Still, it's intensely relaxing to be playing this game, and the only caveat is that not everyone would enjoy the concept that Flower offers. But at the end of a long day, perhaps a game of Flower is all you need.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 03/08/10

Game Release: flower (US, 02/12/09)

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