Flower - game review
Fascinating moments never last long. This is also the case with the next production of the American studio thatgamecompany, which is slowly familiarizing us with its specific approach to the subject of games. Cloud and flOw, available for free on PCs, merely signified certain concepts and the general direction chosen by the manufacturer, which focused on originality, emotions and oneiric atmosphere. However, I felt a bit unsatisfied with these works. Cloud was based on a great idea, but not the best from the technical side, and flOw , although it offered original mechanics and great ambient music, was a bit weary. Meanwhile, the newest work of the creators, i.e. Flower , expected by many lovers of experiments in terms of form and content, is more than just another small step on the way to the artistic absolute. Unlike its predecessors, to which the title and content refer to, it is a perfectly balanced portion of various emotions, from carefree idyll, through sadness and fear, to a somewhat pretentious hope for the victory of good.
My collection of flowers and drying clothes. A small curiosity, however, is the picture in the frame on the right, which is a list presenting the game's developers and containing thanks (also for fans), realized in the form of ... an additional great level.
The lyrical atmosphere of the game manifests itself just seconds after launching it. The standard menu has been replaced with a window view with a gray city in the background and a pot with a dead flower. This is the first of seven levels. Apart from the name of the company appearing at the beginning, we will not experience any dialogues, subtitles or standard interface elements. Responsible for the narration: a set of images, animations and events from the game itself. We control the whole thing using the Sixaxis technology, i.e. rotating the pad (left, right, towards each other and away from each other) and pressing just one button. The complete simplicity of this solution means that anyone can handle the game, although only an experienced player will fully use its possibilities. After selecting one of the flowers, we get acquainted with the introductory animation. They were made using a two-dimensional and simple technique, which in the era of realistic miracles will be quite a shock for many people. I was personally associated with the work of Makoto Shinkai, and especially with the work of Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko .
The story told by the game's creators agrees with the earlier announcements, in which Flower was compared to a poem about contradiction between urbanized areas and nature. In the first, only a few seconds long animation, we watch a gray, sad and busy city, only a moment later to move to a lush green meadow and start the actual fun. Almost every stage begins with a scene showing one little flower growing in the center of the rustling grass. We press any key falls and in the blink of an eye the plant blooms, releasing a tiny petal up, over which we take control, playing the invisible wind. Initially, we do not receive any instructions as to our goal and task, but it is obvious. We have to collect more petals by flying through the colorful flowers, thus leading to many spectacular events. Usually we introduce life and color, we set up windmills and lights, or we free sad, dead areas from urban problems that plague them.
It is worth noting that under the guise of innovative solutions, there is simply a great and well-developed game. While it lacks any classic interface elements, after a while we begin to understand the meaning of the colors and the appearance of each flower. There are also special green plants hidden in each level, the collection of which depends on the appearance of our flower on the introductory screen. However, the title has several very important themes that make it unusual. First of all, the original perspective and great controls bring you an amazing and unique experience. Controlling the ever-growing and following swirl of shining petals of various colors becomes an attraction in itself. Secondly, the varied tasks, events and landscapes simply breed a sincere curiosity about what is going to happen next and where the whole adventure will take us. The third key element of the game is a set consisting of a huge dose of emotions and a peculiar message that the creators have included in their product.
Ecology in games appears rather rarely. It is true that there are some more or less conscious threads of this type in several productions, but only Flower deals with this problem in its entirety. Naturally, the game can be interpreted in many ways and it is certainly a cruel simplification to describe it as only pro-ecological. Nevertheless, the creators decided to express their opinion on the issue of urban stressors that are constantly present in our lives, i.e. noise, dirt, rush, crowds and greyness. As a longtime resident of Upper Silesia, I have long since lost my illusions about the possibility of creating a city that would not stand in strong opposition to nature. Meanwhile, the creators of this extraordinary game seem to be saying the opposite. Such a message can be read from the last, spectacular, colorful, joyful and at the same time melancholic scene of their work, closing the whole thing with a great loop and a memorable simple, but suggestive image. Introducing a lot of color to everyday gray life.
The implementation of the Flower audiovisual setting is simply divine. It is not, of course, the amount of polygons. It is rather a matter of a perfectly realized artistic vision, which makes even outside observers sit down to watch what is happening on the screen. The role of music should also be emphasized - we co-create it ourselves, because each flower touched makes a sound that matches the sentimental melody slowly seeping in the background.
Unfortunately, the thesis put forward in the first sentence of this review returns. Flower is downright frustratingly short, and the emotions don't come from feeling cheated. After all, the game costs pennies - about 30 zlotys - and is definitely worth the price. Rather, it hurts that such a great idea is contained in just a few levels. It is difficult to reproach the creators of such an approach to the intended consistency of content with form and the desire to create a whole that would be something like a movie or a story. These forms of communication must have a beginning, a middle, additionally containing a few hidden flavors and an epilogue. Just like every review.
Szymon "Hed" Liebert