Monday, 23 February 2009

Flower - PS3

After months of waiting, Flower finally arrived on the PlayStation store a couple of weeks ago, and I've barely stopped playing.

Available for just £6.29, Flower is a beautiful and engaging piece of software by Thatgamecompany, the team behind the excellent Flow on PS3 and PSP.

Calling Flower a game in the traditional sense might be a bit wide of the mark, as although there are gameplay elements included, playing through Flower is more about the visual and aural experience rather than achieving a set objective.

Each of the game’s levels in represented by a potted plant sitting on the windowsill of a city flat. By moving the Sixaxis over the plant and clicking on it, you are taken into the flower’s dream. Here, you will skim through long grass, soar into the sky, create bright bursts of colour on the ground, while breezing over unopened flowers collecting their petals as you go.

The control system is inspired, with gentle movements of the Sixaxis used to control the breeze. Pressing any button causes the wind to gust, making for an exhilarating experience as you fly through the beautifully realised world.

This experience is made complete by the game’s wonderful visuals. Lush, grassy meadows under bright blue skies give way to rocky canyons, sun-drenched amber vistas, midnight blue fields and rain-soaked plains – Flower may not be the most technologically advanced game ever made, but is one of the most beautiful.

The music also adds to the zen-like experience, with gentle acoustic arrangements suiting the mood of the game perfectly. Each petal you pick up on the breeze is also accompanied by a note or a chime, adding to Flower’s dream-like quality.

While you are free to fly about to your heart’s content and make your way to the level exit - a swirling mass of petals - there are optional objectives that can be undertaken. Each level contains three green flower clusters, each cunningly hidden, and discovering them all rewards you with a gold trophy - one of 14 trophies on offer.

Another nice touch is if you leave the controller alone, the game flicks between stunning views of the landscapes. This is particularly nice to have on in the background, and it's very soothing to watch.

It’s not all perfect, though, the gloomy and oppressive fifth level introduces obstacles in the shape of electricity pylons. Clashing with these twisted metal structures makes the Sixaxis shudder and stops you briefly in your tracks. After being able to freely fly around the gameworlds, this addition really jars.

However, all is forgiven after experiencing the epic final level. I won't spoil it for you, but it is an incredible and uplifting experience that will have you grinning like an idiot.

Flower is not a long game, and those who choose to breeze through it will complete it in a couple of hours.

But why would you want to rush? Flower is best played in short bursts late at night and it took me around six hours to see the closing credits - which are the best and most entertaining closing credits I've ever had the pleasure of seeing.

So pour yourself a glass of wine, dim the lights, kick back, relax and enjoy the experience. Bloomin' marvellous.

1 comment:

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