By Rachel Phillips
Flower, a game by ThatGameCompany, the makers of FlOw, is in many ways an extension of their debut game. It might be referred to as the stereotypical “casual” game, and plays well to my tastes. Regardless of that, this is a game that deserves some respect from all gamers!
Flower is inexpensive, and provides a nice afternoon of gaming. I say afternoon because it doesn’t take all that long to beat Flower. There are only 6 levels, and if you don’t concentrate on opening every single flower; you’ll breeze (hah!) through it in an afternoon.
The controls are very simple: Tilt the controller. That’s it. If you want to go fast, press X. This makes Flower the perfect game for learning the motion controller. You start in a room with a flower in a pot on a windowsill. Move toward the plant and you enter a meadow. You move around opening flowers, some more powerful than others and turn the meadow from brown to green. As you move through the levels you’ll become more and more in tune with the controls entering the illusive “zen gaming” state. The music and movements are very calming. Flower was definitely living up to its tagline of being “that game”.
And then Flower betrayed me. I have always enjoyed motion sensor games, and I was excited for this one. One review I had watched even said that this was a calming game where you cannot die. So imagine how I felt during level 5 when I innocently ran into a piece of metal and watched my poor petals go up in smoke, literally. I actually shrieked in surprise. And I’m not the only one who felt that way. By polling my male friends and some Internet bloggers who also played that game, I found that they also expressed vocal surprise and despair at this part.
But then, Flower also makes you feel rewarded for the simplest things. Opening a flower produces a harmonious sound. Successions of opened flowers produce a melody. And opening the colored flowers gives you the reward of a beautiful transformation of scenery and heavenly song. The city level is especially rewarding. Practically everything you touch bursts into song and brilliant color. It sounds lame, I know, but it’s exhilarating and incredibly rewarding.
There is also a not-so-subtle eco-friendly message apparent in the game. After the first two training levels to get you used to the controls and nature of the game, you reach a level where you turn on the windmills to create wind-energy. After that you turn on the windmills and create electricity, turning on lights around a farm at night. At the end, you “accidentally” turn on something bad, a set of electric lights that aren’t from wind energy. Then you play through the aforementioned betraying level of terrible electricity where everything is burned or ‘corrupted’. In the last level you cleanse the city from the terrible electricity, making it eco-friendly. Also, the loading screen is of a depressing city scene, usually depicting pollution or traffic congestion. Once you complete each level however the loading screen displays the same locals after a beautiful transformation into color and vegetation. So in short, nature is good, not-nature is bad.
Drawing back from one of my previous articles, this does seem like the simple, casual games women are prone to stereotypically play. But I disagree. Anyone can enjoy this game, and sometimes even the men need a calming game like this. So I would recommend this game to anyone. It will never be a game that you can play for days on end, but it is a great game for relaxing and for taking a break between the more demanding games.
I’ve heard it said that if you are amused by small things, you will always be happier and never disappointed. That holds true for Flower. As long as you keep an open, judgment-free mind, you’ll go on the eco-friendly trip through this beautiful game.
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Published By: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developed By: ThatGameCompany
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Platforms: Playstation 3
Release Date: 12 February 2009