Flower Review - Gone with the Wind & Flow Preview

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I’m gonna get all existential on you guys for a minute here, so forgive me in advance. People assume life is complicated, and it is, but in all that complexity, is nothing simple? Think about it, you go through your lives making thousands of decisions a day, never knowing the true outcome of your choices in most cases. A turn here, a question there, and all of it adding up to another night lying awake and wondering what your purpose is on this earth.

Or maybe that’s just me, but in all seriousness, sometimes I wish things were simpler. The beauty of the world around me is lost in all the chaos of the day to day routines. The simple forces that drive this world are shunned aside for cars, technology, and mocha frappucinos. Luckily, That Game Company didn’t forget about those simple forces. Sorry, you were asking which game company? It’s called That Game Company. Yeah, that’s their name. Who’s on first, what’s on second, I don’t know’s on third, kind of like that. Except it’s a game company, That Game Company.

Okay, forget it, anyway, those guys (That Game Company) are responsible for several PS3 and now, PS4 exclusive titles. These guys and gals don’t busy themselves with complex controls, in-depth storylines, crazy twists and turns, or even dialogue. No, they make games as simple as the world around us, and for that, they are loved by both critics and fans alike. Enter Flower, a beautiful game originally released on the PS3, and now ported to the PS4. I know you Call of Duty players are rolling your eyes, but hear me out.

A Simple Premise, a Grand Idea
Normally I would start with the story, but here that would be a little hard to convey. Let’s speak of the premise. You, the player, are the wind. By holding any button on your controller, you press your invisible force to the world and watch as you mold the environment around you. Each level begins simply, with a small flower, closed and waiting to bloom. With a button press and a flourish of music, a single petal explodes from the center and levitates into the air. Now, your journey begins.

Flower ReviewYou hold down a button of your choice and watch as the wind picks up, sweeping this unsuspecting petal into it’s warming embrace and as you tilt the controller, you guide this petal to others. Flower is simple in it’s goals and design, you move through areas, collecting additional petals as the positively immaculate orchestral soundtrack bends to your will. As you progress, collecting more petals of all colors, you become a vast and flowing collection of petals that soars through the air, guided by your hand.

Your actions change the world around you, turning brown grass green, and bringing leaves to barren trees. As you play, you heal the world around you, but it is subtle. You’re not performing miracles, you’re simply bringing back those who have gone to the brink of darkness. The themes become more intense as the story goes on and while some may call it pretentious or too environmental, I submit that the message is neither. Flower simply seeks to exist, as all nature intends to do. It does not attack a race or a thought, it simply heals what has been broken and dusts away the old to bring the new. Surely such a concept can be appreciated by all peoples, no matter who you are or where you’ve come from.

It’s not easy to do such a thing, to create a game that is so intense, beautiful, and universally inviting. It is a testament to these developers and their vision and a monumental achievement for all involved.

Controls
As I mentioned before, Flower has very simple controls. You press a button down and tilt your controller to guide the flower petals through the air. On the new DualShock 4, this works very well, even though the controls can be, for lack of a better word, floaty at times. Taking tight turns is not something you’ll be able to do, but Flower doesn’t include any sort of game over, and therefore this issue merely costs time in certain cases, but for the most part you can always turn around and try again.

I would have liked to see an option for analog stick support, but I understand that the simple idea of holding a button and tilting the controller is a less daunting concept for someone who doesn’t play games, and these are the people who should experience Flower the most, for this is an example of how a game can also be a work of art.

Graphics
Flower looked incredible on the PS3, and somehow it looks even better on the PS4. The frame rate, resolution, and textures all seem to look better. The game definitely runs smooth, showcasing the new standard of sixty frames per second that the PS4’s power can provide. Without spoiling anything, let’s just talk about the first level of the game. You find yourself in a grassy field, and as you begin to soar through the level, you can fly high toward a blazing sun and see the world stretched out beneath you in vast detail.

You can fly low, and part the grass as you forge your own path. Each blade of grass leans into the wind separately, and parts in different ways as you sweep through it. Rich, beautiful colors pop from your screen with the new resolution in play. Everything in the game is masterfully crafted and at any moment you could pause the adventure and stare into a picture perfect scene, as if pulled from a painting. It doesn’t rival Killzone: Shadow Fall in terms of detail, but it is still an astonishing masterpiece all the same.


Flower PlayStation 4

Music
Flower’s soundtrack is among my favorites in all of gaming. Each game’s music should seek to invoke an emotion or emotions in the player. Every note should strive to bring a tear to their eyes or a smile to their face. Flower does this, with beautiful strings, violins come through at the perfect moments while cellos punctuate each of the major moments. Brass and woodwinds bring deep moods to the darker levels, and the entire orchestral sound works in perfect harmony to make this world feel alive.

More so than all of this though, is that Flower’s music works in tandem with the gameplay to create a serene, peaceful experience. It is something that must be heard, especially in context with the gameplay.

The Final Verdict
Flower is short, but that’s about the only complaint I could possibly lodge against this beautiful, profound, and lovingly crafted work of art. This game is more than just an experience. It is a massage for the mind, it caresses the soul and erases the inequities of our daily lives, and for a brief moment, it shows us the beauty of the world around us. The beauty lost in the chaos, and for that, it is both a masterpiece and a crowning achievement. Gamer or no, everyone must play this game.

Final Score: 9.5/10

Game Category: Action / Adventure and Indie

Flower Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date: 11/27/2013

flOw
"Soothing" would be the best word to describe fl0w. As a (presumably) single-cell organism, you will swim around an ocean and eat other organisms, slowly growing your creature. The game is more about the atmosphere and the relaxation then it is about the challenge or a scoreboard, making it the perfect game to unwind after an intense Battlefield 4 or Killzone match.


fl0w PlayStation 4

The game will use the DualShock 4's motion sensing to move your organism, same as the DualShock 3 controls on the PlayStation 3, and everything you really need to know about the game can be seen in the above trailer.

While fl0w won't appeal to everyone, PlayStation 4 gamers looking for an experience, more so than an actual game, will appreciate what fl0w has to offer.

See our Official Review of Flow

Flow Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 10/27/2013

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