By Spencer . July 25, 2008 . 12:13pm
Jenova Chen, Co-Founder of thatgamecompany, explained Flower was not in the usual emotional spectrum of video games. If all you care about is the gameplay, Flower is a tilt controlled game where you guide an airborne flower petal from one flower to the next. When distilled into the tilting Flower doesn’t sound like anything special. But, Flower is something special and one of the most interesting games I played at E3.
Flower begins in a dingy urban apartment with a single flower pot. You can sit and listen to the atmospheric noise or tilt the controller towards the flower to start the level. Once I zoomed in on the flower I entered the dream world where blades of grass dance to the wind. You play as the wind. I pressed a button to blow a gust of air and the first flower petal was airborne. The goal is hazy because it’s up to the player. You can gently guide the petal and, as Chen describes, “pet the grass.” He has seen young testers that love playing with the grass.
I jumped into collecting other flower petals by moving the wind over the yellow flowers. Each time you capture a petal a small sound plays which reminded me of to Rez. If you race through the level by holding down the circle button you can complement the background music. You also gain a new petal each time you touch a flower. Halfway through the stage I had a tail of floating petals. My focus switched from collecting more petals to playing with the ones in my possession. I started swinging the controller, spinning it to make the flower petals do a somersault. Flower captures motions well. The trail of flowers follow loops and even flips.
Back to “completing” the stage. As I raced through the dream I noticed groups of red flowers restored beauty to the world. Capturing all of them made dead patches of grass came back to life. The dream ended with a pulse of color spreading through an open field of grass. The reward for beating the stage is a slightly more vivacious apartment and a new flower pot appeared. Chen explained the story is a key component to Flower. I asked if it every dream led to revitalizing the beauty of the apartment. Chen said he didn’t want to spoil it for me.
The second dream started in a gray world where collecting waves of flowers brightened the surroundings with color. There were more dead patches of grass to recover and a few surprises like blue flowers to discover for those that search for them. The goal was just like the first dream, but this world was bigger and had tighter turns to master. You don’t have to play Flower that way though. Flower can be a leisurely experience where you take your time to explore or "smell the roses".
In another dream Flower introduces something brand new, wind turbines. These mechanical devices boost the velocity of the flying flower pedals supposedly making them harder to control.
After a taste of Flower I'm looking forward to finding out much more about the project and picking up the final game. As of now, Flower does not have a set release date and it's only going to be a PlayStation Network release.
Images courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment America.