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A carefully typed PowerPoint presentation had Jenova Chen's next PSN game's title as Flower
. No, not flOwer
, because that would suggest it was flOw
+er, which would do an incredible disservice to this surprisingly ambitious title. Sure, there are a number of similarities between flOw
: both use SIXAXIS tilt-controls, both are technically "single button games," and both fuse music and intuitive gameplay to evoke emotions rarely found in any other game. But, Flower
does much more than we could have expected.
Jenova Chen described flOw
as a gaming "haiku" -- but Flower
is a "poem." It comes as an incredible surprise that Flower
tells a story, told through the dreams of various flowers. When a player begins a new game, they aren't treated to lush green fields of grass. No, we see a colorless dying cityscape, one with a lone flower sitting in a cracked, dirty pot. Trigger a flower's dream, and we're treated to abstract watercolor paintings of a city that hint at a much bigger story.
So what's the gameplay like? You control a flower pedal, and you must tilt the PS3 controller to guide it to other flowers. It's a simple premise that's instantly accessible, but figuring out what must be done in each level requires exploration and experimentation. Each playthrough is meant to be a "performance," and players will want to tilt their controllers and create music through the various flowers in these fields. Each flower creates its own unique sound, depending on the background music, the speed of the wind and the player's timing. The mix of lush visuals and synesthetic gameplay is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Without a doubt, Flower
is one of the most visually arresting games I have ever laid my eyes upon. The idyllic environments are rendered with such lush colors that it looks beyond real. Unlike in other games, the grass is not the background -- it is the canvas to the dance of the flowers in your control. Each blade of grass is rendered by the PS3, and thousands of blades swaying realistically in the wind is absolutely a technological accomplishment. There are various triggers in each level, which cause an explosion of flowers and color to fill the screen. Seeing the soft bloom of each flower in the mesmerizing movement of the grass lifts me up to a zen-like experience that surpasses anything flOw
could have offered.
Yes, I admit there's a ton of fluff in this post. But of all the games I've seen at E3 so far (and there are a lot), this is the only game that's made me rush out to write a post with a full smile on my face. We've seen three levels so far, and each has felt very different. While all of the three we've seen have been serene so far, Jenova Chen assures us that there is quite a bit of challenge in Flower
, and from what I've seen of the third level, we see hints at what Flower
may become. There are still a lot of questions unanswered about thatgamecompany's latest ... but trust me when I say it is something you will definitely want to keep your eyes on.