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12/05/2011 Thinking Game People Podcast
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Flower PS3





Further reading:
Andy Robertson - Family Gamer
Chris Jarvis - Novel Gamer

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Other GamePeople columnists have reviewed this from their perspective - huh?:
Family Guide Gamer (PS3)
Family Gamer (PS3)
Audio Gamer (PS3)
Haiku Gamer (PS3)
Magnetic Gamer (PS3)

We discuss art game Flower. Just how did this unusual game about petals wheedle its way into out affections, and what on earth should you play next?

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Videogame Podcast Guests

Andy Robertson appears in this podcast. "Videogame reviews for the whole family, not just the kids. I dig out videogame experiences to intrigue and interest grownups and children. This is post-hardcore gaming where accessibility, emotion and storytelling are as important as realism, explosions and bravado."

Chris Jarvis appears in this podcast. "I write stories to say what I think about games, for me it's the only way I can really communicate what I feel about them. Do you ever have a response to something that's hard to put into words? I find that sometimes I have something to express that can't be communicated by trying to explain how I feel, directly."

Alex Beech appears in this podcast. "Games connect us to exhilaration in various ways. I love mine to scare me. Although the shock, horror and gore are all pretty unnerving, nothing comes close to the sweaty palms of playing games that take you to ridiculously high places - InFamous, Mirror's Edge and Uncharted to name a few."

Iain Simons appears in this podcast.


Before the tape started rolling, here are our scribbled notes.

Andy Robertson - Family Gamer

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.

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.

Chris Jarvis - Novel Gamer

Flower's quite a remarkable game for me in three areas.

I think the first thing that strikes a player, particularly an experienced gamer, is how different the pace and objectives are compared to other games. It's obvious to say that it's a nice break from guns and driving but I think beyond that there are other things which set it apart from other games; there's no time imperative, no failure conditions and no tricky set-pieces to memorise. I know a few gamers to whom I recommended flower who just didn't enjoy it - they didn't "get it" and said they were a bit bored. But at the same time I've show it to one friend who doesn't play a lot of mainstream ps3 games, but are addicted to their DS games and they really liked it. And it's good that which such basic controls, it allows the play to use whichever button for speed that they like. It's very inclusive. I think the only comparative experience I can think of is something like Endless Ocean.

Secondly it's a very musical game. The soundtrack is beautiful and accompanies the action perfectly - I actually bought the soundtrack this weekend. What I particularly like about the musicality of the game is the way each flower releases a note when it opens. It allows a certain amount of personal expression to create little musical themes as you travel and the more notes you release it feels as though the released note are adding complexity to the score, although I don't know how true this is, technically. In the way that the game combines musical expression with an action setting, it feels a bit like Flower is Rez's B-Side.

What else I think is remarkable about Flower is how much story is communicated through so little text. It perfectly uses the juxtaposition of the menu/room, the cityscape cut scenes and the game itself to communicate a great deal. As a writer I find it a little humbling how much is delivered with so few words. It's almost the way traditional Art expresses ideas. Though (I think mainly through the trophy system) there are a few words which are dropped to provide additional context, like "dream" and "simplicity" and this raises some interesting questions about the game. Is this somebody somewhere staring at a window-ledge flower and daydreaming about life outside the city? Or is it the flower's own dream, imagining a life away from captivity or its own origins. There are even overtones of darkness in the city, resurrected and made pure by the presence of greenery and life. I wasn't expecting the dark turn the game takes and I was genuinely impressed by its appearance.

Other Reviews and News

Here's what else we have written about this:

Flower easily won my surrender with its fields and cities -- three hours well spent. In undoing my reluctance to spend time on films, books and video games it reminded me of other commitments I'd like to renew during Advent... read now

Sun, 16 Dec 2012 Loading comments...

Journey and Flower are both games which can offer a tranquil and thoughtful experience. In this pair of FamilyGamerTV episodes, we bring gaming into Religious worship in two different places with Flower at the Greenbelt Festival and Journey at Exeter Cathedral... watch now

Sun, 25 Nov 2012 Loading comments...

Andy Robertson worked with Exeter Cathedral to include a videogame (Flower PS3) as part of their Sunday evening worship service. This followed his TEDx talk about "Sustainable Perspectives on Videogames" which the clergy from the Cathedral attended... watch now

Fri, 25 May 2012 Loading comments...

Flower may seem like an odd-ball on the PlayStation 3, but actually it's as true to Sony's PS3 system as Wipeout was on the PS1... read now

Tue, 17 Jan 2012 Loading comments...

We discuss art game Flower. Just how did this unusual game about petals wheedle its way into out affections, and what on earth should you play next?.. listen now

Thu, 12 May 2011 Loading comments...

More Rebecca Mayes Live reviews, chronological or alphabetical.

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