Hidden Gems : Flower

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Flower is not the kind of game you’ll find an alpha-male playing with his mates on a ‘beer and the boys’ night in front of his PS3; maybe when his girlfriend has gone out for the night and he’s all alone he’ll download it like a dirty little secret, and stash it with his other ‘secret’ files, but he’ll never ever tell you about it. Which is an unfortunate thing for Flower because it’s one of the few games out there that can allow the player to connect with their PS3 in a unique way. See, Flower is about controlling the wind, and although that sounds like an idea born from a ‘fun fag’ session it’s actually more of a philosophical point of view than a stoned one.

flower 2What ThatGameCompany have created here is something special, and something that’s impossible to be recreated on the other two consoles. First off there’s the control system, and by using the Sixaxis you can separate the player from the feeling of having ‘solid control’ if you will. Controlling wind is not about having a true sense of pitch and yaw, it’s more floaty than that as it can suddenly switch direction or slow down to a halt completely at any given time. The developers have managed to find that intuitive sweet-spot for something that’s not on wheels or wings and deliver the feeling of weightlessness with almost supernatural ease. The other thing is the grass – yeah that’s right we said ‘the grass’!. Each and every blade will bend and move with the wind’s touch (that’s you) as it swoops and glides though it, and all of this is thanks to the PS3’s unique SPU layout. It can render 200,000 blades simultaneously while in motion, and it’s this that gives Flower its beautifully natural look and feel.

The first time you take control a little confusion might set in, but as you glide around the landscape objectives will become clear: gather petals. It sounds ridiculously simple (and it is) but once you become accustomed to the controls and begin to harness the power of what you are, Flower reveals itself as a new experience that’s calming yet stirring at the same time. Each flower you gracefully brush past releases a petal and as it does a note is played, swooping around to the next one does the same and as you gather momentum each note collides in a crescendo of chimes that ring out a unique melody dependent upon your movement. It’s an intoxicating experience just ‘being’ the wind, rushing through the wide open grass planes and projecting yourself off slanted rock formations to gain height, only to swoop back down and abscond hurriedly with more once peaceful petals. All of this serves as an introduction to the controls and the goals of the rest of the game, but boy, what an introduction.

flower 4The levels that follow are varied and go from haunting dusky meadows and sunny California inspired wind farms, to the bleak, achromatic city that beseeches you to bring it to life, Flower will take you on a captivating journey of redemption from the festering pit of FPSes, RTSes and film tie-in ‘games’ that have bogged you down for years. Get away from the drudgery of powering up and stat-bashing for once and take a break, try something new. It will induce wonder, captivation, urgency and fun; if you let it.

Truly, this is Flower Power at its peak.


5/5

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Written by R.Furie

Ross has been playing games since he can remember and has had games machines around him all his life. He's what we now refer to as "Old Skool" because he grew up playing games with a hand carved wooden joystick on a TV forged from rope and stone. Nourished on a diet of Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Joust, Gauntlet, Bomber Jack and other various wholesome arcades he has grown to become a versatile and open minded gamer. Favouring the style of open-world games he's sure VR can't be far away, and looks forward to attaching himself to a colostomy bag and slipping into a deep VR coma so he need never have to deal with real life again.

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