I first played Flower by Thatgamecompany when it was released on the PS3 back in early 2009, it was a game that was radically different to just about everything else I’ve played before and since. It is often cited as the spiritual successor to flOw – a game in which you swam around as an aquatic microscopic life-form feeding on other microorganisms in order to evolve. As simplistic as it sounds, this was a very good game, and Flower is possibly even more simplistic, but is it actually any good?
In Flower you play the wind, that’s right, you read that correctly, you control the wind, which blows a flower petal which you use to fly close to other flowers to collect other petals to join you on your windy quest of blowing around grassy meadows, collecting more petals, starting windmills off and bring to life formerly barren fields.
That’s it. There’ no speech, no text, no missions to speak of and no end of level bosses.
So is actually a game? That all depends on your mood, for me, it is less a game and more an experience. It will have its detractors and champions much like other titles where players are divided as to whether they are actually games or not – Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls spring immediately to mind, as does flOw. Gametrailers said that “You don’t necessarily “play” Flower; you interact with it”. That’s pretty much what Flower is, its an experience, and, man, what an experience it is too…
As I already own this game on the PS3 I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was able to download it for free for the PS4 (it’s a crossbuy title meaning you can play it on the PS3, PS4 and PS Vita, yay!).
The first thing you’ll notice upon firing up the game is, well, nothing. I was hard pushed to see any real difference in graphics or game mechanics. It still looks as lush as it did on the PS3, perhaps the grass is more defined and plentiful, and things run a bit smoother, but really, switching between PS3 and PS4 I couldn’t see any difference that would matter in the wide scheme of things. Maybe on a better HDTV or a highly calibrated system, the differences would be more pronounced, but, as it is, the graphical upgrade isn’t as great as it could have been and appears slight.
It could be that I need an upgrade in eyes as a quick peep on the interwebs reveals that other users see huge differences in graphical fidelity…
I did, however, notice, that using the DualShock 4 felt better and that perhaps I was able to turn tighter circles to collect up new petals, but, if I’m honest, I think I’m just reaching.
Be that as it is, the game is still as lovely as it was the first time I played it, extremely relaxing and chilled (the music is extremely calming), and, if any game could make you happy then this is it. There’s just something about watching a bunch of petals float around in the wind and seeing your fields bloom and come to life. Remember the floating plastic bag in the wind footage in the film American Beauty? Well, Flower is sort of like that, except that it is actually beautiful.
Flower is an awesome experience and so very different to many other games on the market. There’s no end of level boss, there’s no grinding for XP, and no pew pew pew of laser fire across the vastness of space, but that’s what makes it so good. You just start the game and let all your stress and anxiety melt away, if only for a few hours.
If you already own Flower on the PS3, then I’d say it was probably worth the re-download to play on your PS4 particularly as it is free. If you don’t own it already then buy it, as a crossbuy title you’ll be able to play it on your PS3 and on the move on your PS Vita (something I’ve yet to do).