It's easy these days to see gaming as just a collection of shooting galleries and explosions. It's not like you can be blamed for thinking such a thing though. All of the big AAA titles that are pasted on the new generation of consoles are the outer layer of gaming that the casual observer will see, and will make an assumption on. In other words, those who are not gamers or who only game lightly will see gaming as big companies trying to make big money by producing a game where you shoot things and have fun doing it through. They even see bigger IP titles that started in film or TV starting to make their claim to fame in the gaming industry such as Alien or 'Lord of the Rings'.
So it's sad that those people are oblivious to the games being produced from the lower downs of the gaming industry. Indies have only recently been starting to blow up among the gaming industry, and yet they still are trapped behind the mask of AAA set by Sony and Microsoft. The only platform to really fully embrace indies as a main part of the gaming experience is the PC, but if you ask your casual friend what Steam is, they'll tell you that it's a product of gases and heat.
Now don't get me wrong, the indie collection that is out there for you to browse into all rainbows and sunshine. Indie has it's fair share of terribly terrible titles that you will vomit at the sight of, and it also has its fair share of 'meh' titles to wonder upon. But every now and then there'll be something made that is wonderful; beautiful even. Something that pushes the boundaries and fake limitations of what gaming can do that we sometimes think in our heads.
flower is one of those games.
flower is a game created by thatgamecompany; no, I didn't forget what they're called, that's their name. Nowadays you probably best know thatgamecompany for Journey, another very artful game made for the Playstation 3, which I could also make a post about why that game is so perfect, but that post is for another day. thatgamecompnay have made 3 games: flOw, flower, and the aforementioned Journey (in order of release), all games that have a specific aim; to take you on an emotional Journey (;D) that no other game is capable of doing. I have only played two of those games, flower and Journey, and after now finishing flower, flOw is an experience that I'd love to embark on one day. But let's get back to the subject matter, which is the second game that thatgamecompany (okay, I'm going to call them TGC from now on because typing that in every 20 seconds is tedious and boring and don't judge me)have made.
You start flower as a single flower in an enormous field, gently swaying in the calm breeze. By pressing any button on the controller, a petal will fly up from the flower and you take control of the wind. You begin to guide this flower around the open field you find yourself in, and everytime you fly yourself through another closed flower, it will beautifully bloom and another petal will join the wind. It's probably worth saying at this point that flower is an aesthetically staggering game. If you own a PS4, you'll be able to enjoy floating through the air in gorgeous 1080p 60fps, but even the lesser capable PS3 and PS Vita do the job just as well. As you bloom more flowers, dead fields will light up with fresh, green colour, hills will light up nearby, rocks will move to allow the beauty of the world to shine. You'll likely stop at one point just to take it all in.
What makes this game such a unique experience is the way everything combines to create emotion in you. The visuals, the soundtrack, the sounds of wind through the air; they all work together to create a truly amazing world, and invokes surprising emotions. When I saw the fruits of my labour in the form of multicoloured fields and flowers lighting up the night, I felt a sense of reward and happiness. When things suddenly and sharply went bad, I felt shcoked and distressed. As I flew my collection of petals through the horrifying, dark valleys presnted to me, I felt scared and alone. And when I lost some of my innocent petals o the cruelness of the world around me, I felt loss and despair. It sounds exaggerated and unusual, but it's the truth, and the fact a game could make me feel all those emtions with under 2 hours spending time with me is amazing on it's own.
And when at last, at the end of my long flight, watching the ending unfold made me feel happy and sad. Sad that such a wonderful experience had now come to an end, but happy at the astonishing sight I was shown at the end of the trials I had gone through.
So in the end, flower is a masterpiece. It's truth and evidence that games can not only hold a place as a work of art, but as one of the strongest and powerful forms of it. Whether it's worth your money and time, well that's up to you. But know that gaming isn't just about taking out the enemy team or robbing banks together. Gaming isn't just about scoring goals or diving for touchdowns. Gaming isn't just about jumping on goombas head's or showing off fatalities. Gaming is an escape. It's a way to enter an endless collection world where anything is possible. It's about letting your imagination roam free. And flower is one of the best games at doing just that.
~ Mario. :D