Sunday, February 15, 2009

Flowers can blow minds after all... The Flower Review

The whole debate whether or not video games can be considered as art is still a mixed bag. While most games out today feel just like pure entertainment, a handful of others actually feel like a rare and special experience. Recent examples like Rez HD and Braid are rare gaming experiences that your mind was blown compared to games as entertainment. Flower is now the new artistic and special experience that is also calm and relaxing at the same time. It is another great example of how Playstation Network is filled with originality and taking more risks compared to Xbox Live Arcade and WiiWare being filled up with shovelware most of the time. The developers, Thatgamecompany, already established themselves with Flow early on with the Playstation 3's lifespan and now Flower is their coming out party with a crazy concept that keeps building up till the end. Even if flowers are not your thing, this is one of the best downloadable games on the Playstation 3 now and for ten bucks, it is truly worth it.

The Flower experience is six levels long, but that doesn't mean you're totally done with the game. Even though you run through it once, there is enough replay value to play it as a game rather than an experience getting hidden flowers and trophies. The experience does build up as you progress similar to games like Rez and Braid where things would get crazy in the end. At first, it may seem calm and relaxing blooming flowers left and right, but later on it actually becomes a game along with the experience. Blooming various flowers and painting the levels does remind me a bit of Okami where the reward of completing the levels makes the world a cleaner and brighter place. Also rare these days in the Playstation 3's lifespan is that game relies on Sixaxis controls heavily. Those Sixaxis controls are among the best I have dealt with even though I have the system for almost two months now. Turning in various directions feel really good and accurate when slight turns require a slight tilt while sharper turns require a stronger tilt. Along with being a petal gathering more petals to proceed through these six levels, there is also the wind mechanic where sometimes you have to go on one direction in the later levels. Flower's gameplay can be played both as the experience and an everyday game.

On the graphics department, you can tell that Flower is meant for the Playstation 3 taking advantage of the hardware. The game flat out looks beautiful from beginning to end as mixing in the wind effects and the environments together is remarkable stuff. It also feels like you're watching something on Planet Earth seeing nature in its high definition glory watching the trail of flower petals interact with the long grass having that whoosh effect. The same thing goes for the sound as well. When gathering more flower petals, Flower almost feels like a rhythm game similar to Rez as it triggers various sound effects. Unlike Rez and its techno style, Flower's music is relaxing and soothing as if you're in a yoga session or mediating. As a downloadable game, Flower is a pretty good showcase of the system both in audio and graphics.

Flower is best as an experience rather than an actual game with goals. It can be played both ways of just playing the six levels casually, or as an everyday game with certain goals to accomplish which are usually for trophies. There is enough replayability for those players that want all the trophies, but for those casual players, playing it as an experience is good enough. It is a rare special experience that keeps building up to a climatic finale. Who would of thought that flowers can blow minds? Flower is indeed a game unlike no other and a great contender for downloadable game of the year.

Score = 9/10

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