One of the gameplay elements that made 2006’s Okami so special was its emphasis on healing the world. As creation goddess Amaterasu (incarnated as a wolf), smiting evildoers was only the beginning; as you restored sacred cherry blossoms, nature would spring back to life in a blaze of colour. It was beautiful, it was triumphant, and it fit the theme of the game.
Well, Flower is that element turned into an entire, albeit short, game. In Flower, you control the wind, as it blows a petal across the landscape. Fly up to other flowers, and they’ll blossom, releasing petals to join you – soon, your one lonely petal will have turned into a flying trail of colour, almost like a prettier Katamari Damacy. Blossom all the flowers in an area, and you’ll revitalise the world. Withered fields will spring back to life, boulders will part, new flowers will sprout for you to collect, and new areas will unlock.
As far as game mechanics are concerned, that is pretty much it, although certain other features of the landscape will become important as you progress*. There are no enemies, no conflict, no timer, and no fail-state. A challenging test of skill this is not; if you play games solely for that reason, then Flower is not for you. What it is, instead, is one of the most unique, prettiest, and most relaxing titles I’ve played. Text-based descriptions of gameplay mechanics can’t do justice to what makes this game work – the combination of fluid controls (tilt the controller to steer, press any button to move ahead), unique premise, and art design. The world in bloom is a glorious sight – but that art design can also turn far more ominous, effectively changing the mood without a word being said. That makes it all the sweeter when you do restore the world.
All in all, I’d recommend Flower for any gamer after a simple, unique, pleasant experience. It’s particularly suitable to play while tired or stressed. The game isn’t long, but it ought to put a smile on your face while it lasts.
* I’m being vague here to avoid spoilers.
You can buy Flower via Amazon (warning – US PSN store only).
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The basis of my review
Time spent with the game: A few hours.
What I have played: The entire game.
What I haven’t played: n/a