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Flower

01 Mar 2009

Who would have thought that the world’s most powerful console would eventually house a game where you watch grass grow (or flourish, as it were)? Even more surprisingly, who would have thought that said game was actually rather fun, and one of the most interesting titles in recent months?

Flower is an intriguing game like none I’ve experienced. The player controls the wind, navigating a flower petal through a dull and colourless landscape. You do so by simply holding a button to blow/accelerate the petal and move it around by tilting the Sixaxis controller in the appropriate direction. In collecting other flower petals by flying into them, you begin to revitalise the environment, returning vibrant colour to the landscape. Returning colour triggers events (like activating a windmill), and once you revitalise an entire area, you move on to the next level.

I almost feel like Flower shouldn’t be treated as a “game” as such, and those expecting a challenge should look elsewhere. It almost feels like a relaxation tool. There are no time limits or point systems; everything is done at the player’s own pace to the sound of ever-so-soothing music. With its pick-up-and-play qualities requiring little intellectual investment from the player, it’s a relaxing and genuinely refreshing change from tried-and-true video game formulas. Developer ThatGameCompany has taken a real creative punt here, and it’s good to see.

However, there are times when you may find yourself spending perhaps too much time searching a vast meadow for an isolated flower that you may have missed. And as relaxing as the game can be, such a situation can be frustrating, making you want to switch to a game that allows you to shoot something. But all in all, I was impressed with this relatively simple concept that pushes the envelope of what a game can constitute in this generation. I eagerly await an inspired developer’s stab at a paint-drying game.

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