By Ishaan . July 12, 2009 . 1:45pm
Puzzles in Flower, Sun, and Rain are solved with the aid of your trusty partner, Catherine. As we discussed in our dissection of the game’s narrative, Catherine is a briefcase outfitted with some sort of advanced hacking/decryption technology that Sumio carries with him wherever he goes.
Catherine has several jacks built into her, and a mechanism for inputting numeric values. By connecting the correct jack to any puzzle – be it a person or an object or a door – and inputting the correct numerical string,, you’ll be able to solve any puzzles you encounter related to the outlandish events at Lospass Island.
But finding the correct string is the important part. When you first arrive at the Flower, Sun & Rain hotel, you are handed a guidebook by Edo Macauster. Macauster explains that you should find the book useful during your stay at the hotel. And boy, is it useful.
The guidebook consists of 49 pages of info on Lospass Island and the hotel. The first 20 or so pages consist of entries on the airport, the cave ruins, and the Lospass Highway and so on. There are entries on the diner across from the beach and the cave ruins on Eleki Island. The remainder of the guidebook is dedicated to the hotel, detailing its structure, the thinking behind its architecture, its guests, its bar and even the beverages available! There are interviews with celebrities presently staying at the hotel, listings for radio stations and even listings for movies at the hotel cinema. I found myself amazed by how detailed it was. It’s clear a lot of effort was put into creating Lospass Island.
The Lospass guidebook is one of the many things that go a long way toward making the world of Flower, Sun, and Rain believable, but you won’t be using it for sightseeing. Instead, this is where you’ll find the numerical values pertaining to various puzzles scattered throughout the island.
Before you attempt a puzzle, you need to find out as much as you can about what you’re dealing with. Sometimes, this is easier said than done, as the guests at the hotel aren’t always very accommodating. Regardless, Sumio’s no slouch himself and will often throw a hint or two your way should you get stuck. Once you’ve learnt as much as you can, it’s time to search through the guidebook for a page relevant to the puzzle. This page will likely contain the numerical string you want in one form or another. Sometimes, it is readily apparent when you read the correct page in the guidebook, while others times you’ll find yourself solving mind-teasers to put together the correct string.
Once you find the numbers you’re looking for and arrange them in the required order, the rest is a piece of cake. You just the correct jack from Catherine into the puzzle and enter the numbers. A “HIT” or “BLANK” will tell you whether or not you got it right.
The first time you attempt this, you’ll find yourself thinking, “There is no way in hell this is going to work.” But it does! And the feeling of satisfaction you derive from solving these puzzles is part of Flower, Sun, and Rain’s fun. I only had to use a FAQ at two points in the game when I really got stuck. Aside from those two scenarios, I was able to solve the remaining puzzles with patience and observation. This is very much a thinking game. While the puzzles may seem daunting at first, they soon settle into a predictable, almost comfortable pace. Knowing where to look for all the answers is a big plus, too.
Catherine also houses a memo pad that you can use to write stuff in with the stylus; a phenomenon Sumio will sometimes refer to as “putting things inside her,” which tends to gross out one of the hotel staff that have no idea what he’s talking about.
Since Flower, Sun, and Rain is divided into 18 short chapters, each representing a day – although, technically, it’s the same day – you’ll never find yourself doing the same thing or talking to the same person for long. Each day involves lots of interaction with the people of Lospass, a lot of running around and solving the occasional puzzle. FSR is great to play in bite-sized chunks as each chapter can take anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes to complete.
Each day starts out the same way: you get a wake-up call from Macauster announcing that breakfast is ready. Sumio then rolls his lazy ass out of bed and stumbles to the floor. He then peacefully sips his morning coffee while reflecting on the previous day’s events before finally heading down to the lobby.
It’s the exact same routine everyday (with the exception of a couple “special” days), but what makes it fascinating is that I actually found myself looking forward to Sumio’s daily early morning conversations with Macauster. The writing is highly entertaining and the chemistry between Sumio and Macauster is superb.
Now is a good time to mention that the characters in Flower, Sun, and Rain don’t have voice acting. Instead, they make noises like the characters in Okami or Midna from Twilight Princess. While some people might find this a little off-putting, I actually quite liked it. I felt it gave the inhabitants of Lospass a very unique feel…almost as if they had their own language.
If there was anything negative I were to highlight about Flower, Sun & Rain, it would be the infuriating camera which often chose the worst possible angles to present the scene from. But again, considering this an adventure game heavy on dialogue, you don’t need the camera to be super-responsive. It’s something you should be able to overlook if you’re interested in the game.
Fun fact: The Lospass Island guidebook actually exists in real life as a Flower, Sun & Rain fan book published by Sony Magazines. It’s quite expensive though.