When thatgamecompany’s Flower hit the PSN in 2009, I was among the first to pick it up. The core concept is novel enough: you control the wind, collecting petals and sweeping the land, restoring Mother Nature to her former glory.
However, despite its beauty and many accolades, Flower eventually lost my interest, and I never got past the fifth stage.
Enter a new generation of game consoles followed by a re-release of Flower, currently available for the PlayStation 4 at no extra cost to existing owners thanks to Sony’s Cross-Buy program.
But would a fresh coat of paint be enough to revive my interest in a last-gen gem?
Imagine my surprise to find that this PS4 port is a captivating breath of fresh air, well deserving of its place in the Smithsonian’s permanent collection.
Although Flower relies entirely on motion controls, it never feels forced or unnatural. If anything, that’s what makes it so great. You feel as though you’re part of the game, something motion controls often struggle with, despite that being the core purpose for their existence.
And that’s really where Flower shines – immersion. Each stage places you in a beautiful landscape, starting you off with a single petal. You’re encouraged to cruise the skies, plucking the petals that glimmer on the earth’s surface, becoming a force of all the nature you pick up along the way (fireflies were a personal favorite).
At first, I felt anxious that I would miss some secret, hitting a checkpoint that prevents me from collecting something I missed, forcing me to replay the stage from the beginning.
Sure enough, this is never the case, and I soon discovered Flower may be the most relaxing game I’ve played since Katamari Damacy. You have all the time you need to explore your environment, which is a real treat considering how beautiful and unique the stages are.
One stage has you revive a field of windmills in order to push yourself through a gusty canyon. Another leaves you in the dark of night, confiding in the fireflies and lampposts to navigate and illuminate the stage. It’s this kind of variation that keeps things interesting and pulls you in deeper, leaving you wondering what’s to come.
Surprisingly, what had me coming back at the end of the day were the Trophies. While Flower can easily be completed in a single afternoon (and maybe even a single sitting), Trophies give Flower a nice chunk of replay value and added challenge after the credits roll (“Pure Journey to the City Unscathed” and “Nature Bloom 10,000 Flowers” immediately come to mind).
Graphics & Audio
Certainly, Flower was beautiful on the PlayStation 3, but it absolutely shimmers on the PlayStation 4. Trust me when I say that the images in this review do NOT do it justice.
Each blade of grass feels more authentic than before, and it almost seems as though your TV screen is the only thing between you and the virtual, in-game scenery. The environments seem more genuine and lively on the PS4, resulting in a much smoother overall experience.
Flower‘s music and sound effects are as gorgeous as they were when it released for the PS3. From the gusts of wind that woosh around you as you soar through the sky to the supple elegance of the soundtrack as it chimes along with your progress, Flower is sonically enchanting.
Buy It, Try It, or Skip It?
Buy It – If you’ve read this far and haven’t already played it, Flower is a must buy at a measly $6.99. If you’re really hard-up for cash, wait for the next PSN sale – it’s sure to drop eventually.
Flower is somewhat of a trump card in the “video games as art” debate, but rightly so. From the lush environments to its gorgeous soundscape, it’s easy to understand why gamers are quick to reference it whenever debating with a more conservative art critic.
Whether Flower will age as gracefully as the rest of the Smithsonian’s collection stands to reason, but that’s for tomorrow’s gamers to worry about.
For now, let’s just enjoy it while we know it’s great.