How do you even begin to explain a game like Flower?
How do you even try and review a game like Flower?
I’m not entirely sure if I’m being honest, the sheer abstractness of it even challenges the conventional conception of ‘what a game actually is’.
But anyway, the aim of Flower is to collect petals using a gust of wind, giving life to flowers and subsequently restoring the varied landscapes. It’s a simple idea, but that’s the point of it, minimalism ripples through the game’s structure, there is no failure or death, rather a vacuum of tranquillity.
Flower fleetingly hints at an overlying narrative throughout with striking, almost hypnotic cut-scenes that precede each ‘level’ if you will; something that is abstract is usually synonymous with ‘open to interpretation’ and that’s the case here which isn’t a bad thing, it’s quite fitting really. I hold the view that Flower seeks to inform the player of the precarious relationship between man and nature, how we have manipulated and exploited it’s beauty for our own destructive wants and how this is ultimately unsustainable. Yet, other themes hint of hope, hope of a balance that can be achieved and the durability of nature; the apartment which functions as the title / pause menu is an elegant expression of your progress throughout the game, the colours of the wall become more vivid for example, the weather becomes noticeably brighter, reflecting a hopeful outlook on the world, it says so little but makes the player conceive of so much more.
Flower is unfortunately entirely controlled by the motion-controlled capabilities of the Dualshock controller, it lets you control the game at virtually any pace you wish which is great, but the controls are extremely difficult to get to grips with. Judging by its universal acclaim, I guess I’m in the minority with regards to this problem considering how important the uh, controls are to a game. Honestly, I found them in general to be just incredibly erratic, it was very difficult to turn around and collect a missed petal, and furthermore I never really felt in control of where I was going. I’ve read everywhere that Flower is such a serene, relaxing experience and that’s certainly true when listening to the soundtrack or looking at it. However, I never felt relaxed when I was playing it because I couldn’t fucking control where the fuck I was going most of the fucking time.
Not exactly Zen-like material.
However when you come to writing about Flower’s visuals, well doesn’t it just look sublime? With such vibrancy in its colours, it is a sumptuous delight on the eyes, as you explore lush meadows under a perfect bright blue sky, azure landscapes that will not fail to leave you in a trance under the night sky, even the washed-out city looks convincing. In addition, Flower looks even better in motion with petals gently swirling in the breeze and individual blades of grass reacting to your movement as you soar through the sky, it looks magical.
Similarly, it sounds breathtaking, Thatgamecompany sure knows how to craft the sound design in their games because it is just utterly sublime, effortlessly combining with the serene vistas to create something that feels distinctly emotional and simply beautiful.
I love the concept of Flower, I love how it looks, I love how it sounds and I love its understated narrative but wonderful all this may be, it cannot hide my difficulty with the controls and that’s a key part of any game if we’re being honest.
+ Stunning artistic design
+ Elegant narrative
+ Wonderful audio
+ Refreshing pace
– Erratic controls
– Short length with little replayability