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Flower delivers another emotional experience. After our review song and guide, we settle down for some time with Adam and his family to find out how they got on with it.
Games can sometimes do the extraordinary. At their best they provide experience as unique as they are personal. This has happened to me whilst playing certain RPG's like Lost Odyssey that have sweeping storylines and complex, often flawed, characters. But I didn't expect to get such a feeling when I downloaded Flower from the PSN Store. The simply charm and stunning beauty of the game deepened into a far more emotional experience than I was expecting and proved that videogames can ascend to a more artistic level. However, for the family it proved strangely inaccessible and I was left to play this moving game far more privately than I expected.
That Game Company's previous title, Flow, was a family favourite. It acted as a gorgeous moving screensaver that enchanted and relaxed us whether we were playing it or just had it on in the background. Although the first few levels of Flower went down in exactly the same way, it was far more of an interactive experience than before.
Using the motion controls to glide and soar around Flower's six levels was an unexpected joy. I was barely five minutes in when my other half asked me why I was waving my hands around like a loon. But far from criticism, this couldn't be higher praise for the way Flower drew me into its experience. In fact I often forgot I was actually playing a game at all, finding myself lost in the world displayed in front of me.
It's far more of a tactile experience than that.
To explain the game is to do it a disservice - picking up petals as the wind and hitting bright clusters of Flowers to open up new areas doesn't sounds all that exciting. It's far more of a tactile experience than that. Each flower you pass over emits a gentle note as the petals unfold and soon, as I swept past countless clusters of colour, a whole symphony of my own making came out of the speakers. I found myself dancing around the static wind turbines, bringing them back to life and then regenerating swathes of the land with new colours. This is a wonderful gaming experience.
But despite these high ideals and great controls it wasn't that accessible for the rest of the family. Putting the controller in anyone else's hands (apart from my two year old son) resulted in them looking bewildered or disinterested. It wasn't a case of actively disliking the game but more a case of merely watching me play with a passing interest or not understanding the point of it at all. Just like Flow, the younger members of the family remained transfixed with the movement and colourful visuals of the game and it's become an essential distraction when nappies need to be changed.
Not being dissuaded, I found the game becoming a deeper experience the further I progressed. I always thought Flower would have a new-age concept at its heart but what unfolded was far more meaningful to me. By the time I'd reached the end of the fourth level the game had changed and a darker, more menacing tone had begun to take over. To say any more would spoil the experience but it achieved an incredible feat by bringing me close to tears on a couple of occasions.
I never thought such a small game could make me feel so many emotions in such a small space of time.
I never thought such a small game could make me feel so many emotions in such a small space of time. Flower is meditative and relaxing, but also uncomfortable and exhilarating in those last few sections. I felt surprisingly protective over the beautiful early world - particularly when it changes later with decay and darkness - the feeling of anger I experienced over what happens was close to shocking.
This is a truly unique game and by wearing its heart on its sleeve Flower showed me what giddy heights videogames can achieve within the medium. It wasn't as accessible as I'd hoped it would be for the family, but it became a personal journey far more beautiful and moving than I ever dreamed it could be.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: