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Flower on Game and Player


Ed Kirchgessner  //  February 22, 2009

Is artwork fun to play?


otion sensitive controllers invaded our living rooms more than two years ago, yet most game developers have yet to figure out how to design for them — whether you're controlling a character with a Wiimote or the PlayStation 3's SIXAXIS pad, passerby are sure to gawk at your flailing arms and curses to the gaming gods. Luckily, a handful of game makers have figured out how to make full-body gaming work. Nintendo is certainly at the top of that list, but ThatGameCompany (TGC) isn't far behind. What this small independent began in 2006's Cloud, they've continued to refine in Flow and Flower for the PS3.

Progress is gauged by the
landscape's lushness.
Flower, TGC's latest, is the sort of product which simply couldn't exist in the traditional retail chain. Two parts tech demo and one part game, it would seem to fit in more in a corporation's reception area or an upscale NYC gallery than in a gamer's living room — more likely to sell televisions than stir debate over its storytelling or mechanics. And considering it only costs $10 on the PlayStation Network Store, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. By keeping down the cost of entry into the marketplace, download services seem to be attracting the bulk of innovation these days.

But just how innovative is a title like Flower? It's certainly refreshing to play a SIXAXIS game that doesn't end climactically in the death of a controller (yes, Julian Eggebrecht — I'm talking to you). Like Flow before it, Flower's controls are both simple and remarkably accessible. Still, take away the game's smooth controls and stunning graphics, and what are we left with? Flower ends all too abruptly, clocking in at a mere hour. What abstract storytelling exists is more window dressing than prose: the game's sudden ending seemed to dull narrative as well. Perhaps I'm asking for too much from an elegantly simple arcade release, but it's hard to overlook these shortcomings.

Overlook I must, though, because what little of Flower there is can be hypnotically beautiful. With its lush palette of pastels and primaries and a rich ambient soundtrack, this game beckons you to explore. Like in Flow, movement is as simple as tilting the controller in the direction you wish to move. Holding down any of the face buttons will activate a gust of wind that will propel you through the game's environments. Pollination is the game's sole objective — by flying from flower patch to flower patch, you create colorful blooms that wipe out an industrial blight. The message may not be anything new, but it's presented in a truly captivating fashion.

So is Flower worth your time and money? My response would be a conditional "yes." If you can accept the fact that what you're buying is more a piece of interactive artwork than a video game in the traditional sense, TGC's latest is $10 well spent. Still, considering the game's shallow underlying play mechanics and short duration, some may be better off sticking with more traditional fare.







NA Release

February 12, 2009


Play Mode

ESRB Rating

In Favor

  • A visual triumph
  • Great soundtrack
  • SIXAXIS done right


  • Short
  • Simple to a fault

G&P Rating

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