Having meticulously toiled over this review for days now, I can safely say it is the hardest review my still youthful journalistic journey has brought to the table. Trying to justly depict the true nature of Flower and the experience it brings needed to be done honourably. For that reason, there will be a distinct lack of jokes throughout the incoming blossom of scenic metaphors and phrases; it just felt wrong to change the tone. Equally no mention of how the levels pan out will be present, would you really want to spoil the climax?
My opening thought when playing Flower, aside from one where my mind is jealous and my heart rate slows to a gentle pace, was how all the little things mattered. How every single one of the two-hundred-thousand blades of grass helps contribute to such a special journey; in the same way that the following collection of letters and punctuation becomes words and phrases that make up the review you are reading now.
Flower’s concept is delightfully simple and trying to explain it – you fly around, blossom flowers and just generally try to make the world a better place – doesn’t really cut it. Flower is just like a story; if someone were to explain the plot and characters, you may be intrigued, but only by personally experiencing the sensation of becoming the wind, the gentle chime of a flower blossoming, the glaring sunlight in your vision – only by choosing to partake in a genuinely unique experience will you ever sincerely understand.
The movement of the wind and the use of SIXAXIS seem to be a perfect match: no other control scheme would provide the freedom and simplicity that this often scrutinised functionality provides. Immersion is key to soaking up the entire experience, and having the ability to forget about the lump of plastic in my hand, swinging a single wrist to direct the breeze accordingly, and allowing my focus to remain on the beauty bestowed before me provides a sense of freedom that extends beyond the gaming parameters that would normally restrict it.
Simply put, Flower is exceptional. Visually, audibly, emotionally; everything about the game is pure ecstasy. The graphical style immediately moves you; the opening sight of the first level is just breathtaking. Brilliant use of depth of field on the opening of each dream, whilst floating around or focusing on a single bunch of flowers just adds to a simple tremendous ocular feast. The vista that lay before me may not be entirely realistic, but it just doesn’t matter, nothing so far has been so visually pleasing on a video game than that of the landscapes in Flower – the saturated greenery of the grass, the curves of hills, the combinations of vibrant colours, the awe-inspiring sky.
With visuals such a virtuoso sight, developers thatgamecompany have simply surpassed themselves with the sound, providing a heart melting orchestral score on which each blooming flourish blends an ambient note, filling the world with a moving soundtrack. With the swiftness of the breeze and the varying flower colour affecting each note, your real-time composition is set to the mood you wish.
From the get-go, it is noticeably only possible on a next gen system. The crisp quality of both the high-definition graphics and sound, coupled with the use of the SIXAXIS controller and ability to provide such a title as a low-priced, downloadable game, is all only possible on the PS3.
Flower is relaxing, therapeutic and sends you to that Zen paradise you always dreamed off, taking you on a cruise of emotions that most developers could only wish for. Beginning with a sense of gentle sorrow – like sitting on the window sill, thinking of how things used to be as rain trickles down the thin glass – you travel through a sense of accomplishment when you restore the vibrant colours to the land, finishing with a climatic conclusion which leaves me in an upbeat state of mind every time.
As with anything overly artistic it is all open to subjective interpretation, so this is by no means for everyone; but if you are willing to give something new and interesting a try, prepare for something genuinely unexpected. The addition of a photo mode would be a welcome one by possible DLC, and the lack of being able to pick up the soundtrack would greatly sadden me.
Overall it is relatively short, with a single playthrough being somewhere around two hours, but whilst it may not provide masses of varied replayability, my continuing hunger to play it just one more time makes up for that. If you don’t own this you are doing yourself a disservice. Some may think that £6.29 for two hours of gameplay isn’t good enough value for money. My response is simple; never before has a game moved me so strongly, never before has a game made my day better, never before has a game affected my view on life and never again will I be so content with the spending of a handful of pounds.