PS3 Attitude’s 20 Days of PSN: #1 – Flower
We have now reached the final entry in our ‘20 Days of PSN’. It’s a journey that began with survival horror title Siren: Blood Curse and featured many gems along the way, such as Limbo, Braid and WipEout HD. In at #2 came Q-Games’ physics-based puzzler PixelJunk Shooter, and it takes something special to out-do that. So without further ado, let’s introduce Flower, the best of PSN.
Some could argue that Flower isn’t a game, and there is at least some logic behind that thinking. It doesn’t have boss battles, leaderboards, obvious enemies, much in the way of objectives or a competitive edge — it barely even has a physical entity for you to control.
What you control is a gust of wind, a gentle breeze that you direct across a lifeless field, gathering petals and blooming flowers as you pass by. You continue until the once lifeless fields become luscious landscapes, bursting with life and colour. The end result really is truly striking, with over 200,000 blades of grass being simulated and animated at the same time.
Flower has an intentional, unperturbed feel about it, created by this minimalist approach, which even affects the controls. Moving requires only a simple press of any button, and to alter the wind’s direction, all you need to do is gently tilt the SixAxis controller. It’s that simple. And while there is a main objective to inject life into the areas, it is handled so loosely that you can simply float along and enjoy the serenity and the calming music if you wish. A larger gust of wind will calmly send you back into the field if you stray too far afield, but that’s about the closest it’ll come to telling you off if you don’t play by its rules.
The game plays across six areas (seven if you include the interactive credits), beginning with a pleasant breeze through the countryside and ending in a decaying and heavily stylised urban city, which you will essentially rebuild using flower power. It’s hard not to sense a touch of the polemic here, considering environmental issues are such an on-going concern in this age. However, if there is a political message in Flower, it is only suggested, which leaves you to read as much into it as you like.
ThatGameCompany’s main objective is not to preach, but to connect the player to an emotion — be it a sense of sadness, melancholy or calm — through the synergy of the controls, art and music. It’s something they offered previously with Fl0w, but where that game falls a little short, Flower works perfectly.
We tend to avoid the oh-so awkward discussion of whether games can be art. On one side you have over-keen gamers crying out for acceptance for their medium, and on the other, you have blissfully unaware non-gamers who couldn’t care less about what you have to say. It doesn’t help that there are few games that have a true artistic expression, but Flower is one of those games, and it was certainly fitting to see ThatGameCompany accept the Artistic Achievement award at the 2010 Bafta Video Game Awards.
The PSN is a liberating platform. It allows developers to create riskier projects that publishers would normally balk at. Flower could only work on a digital distribution platform where the risks are low.
The team thought long and hard about this list, but when it came to choosing our top PSN title, we were all in agreement that it had to be Flower. And believe it or not, none of us are horticulturists either! So let’s raise a glass (of water) for Flower: our top PSN title.
#1 in our 20 Days of PSN goes to Flower