Flower Hands-On

Flower continues to provide a serene experience as we soar over lush green fields.

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At the E3 Media & Business Summit and the Tokyo Game Show, we were mesmerized by how Flower was able to provide such a beautiful experience visually and aurally. Starting off as a lost single petal, you'll unite with as many petals as you can as you float and swirl across the clear blue skies and skim along the swaying blades of grass. We recently had an opportunity to play through the first three levels of Flower, and even though we've seen these stages before in previous demos, we can't help but sit back and stare at the continuously changing canvas.

Experience a fantastic sunset with the wind at your back and a free open world ahead of you.
Experience a fantastic sunset with the wind at your back and a free open world ahead of you.

The story of Flower begins in a lifeless-looking black and white apartment, which acts as your main menu. There are no game elements to detract you from this world, and it's a stark contrast to the levels that you'll venture through. Other than the icons that will fade in and out to remind you how to tilt the Sixaxis controller, you won't find traditional menus asking you whether or not you'd like to load or start a new game. Only one button is needed for Flower, and that's all the game will tell you: hold any button. This will let you enter what we think is the mind of the single flower that sits by the windowsill. Once you enter the game, your intuition will guide you through vast landscapes, and before you know it you'll be weaving around windmills and zipping through dark caverns as if it were second nature.

A wide-open field that extends as far as the eye can see awaits you and allows you to practice. With the Sixaxis, it feels very much like a flight simulator, except instead of a plane, you have a trail of flower petals. In the field, you'll come across other flowers that are highlighted by a glowing halo, making them relatively easy to see as you're scouring the landscape. By touching these colorful dandelions, you'll eventually trigger a cutscene, which is the only indicator that you're progressing. In this particular level, it looks like you're bringing color back into the world by collecting petals, so it helps to head toward the dullest patch of land in the sea of green. It's important to also pay close attention to the sound, because the music heightens the experience with its lulling melodies, and as you touch other flowers (not necessarily the ones with the halo), you'll hear the wistful sound of wind chimes.

The next stage is similar but much more vibrant because by the end you'll have a field that looks like it's been spray-painted with all the colors of the rainbow. Your magical petals will move rocks and bring trees back to life, making you feel like you've really accomplished something when you're just going wherever the wind takes you. The following level, however, is all about wind. Instead of guiding your petals and floating around aimlessly, in certain sections of the wind level you'll be pushed forward as though you're on rails. This is when you'll find limitations as to where you can explore, because you're at the mercy of nature. This is also when the environment changes up a little, because you get funneled through a narrow valley and can even take a small detour through a cave. It may seem that you're playing each level the same way, but in this particular one, you're looking for a ring of blue flowers to activate all the windmills. At certain points in the game, you'll have to brush against every glowing flower for an animation to occur, which will then point you to a new area. But it seems that you can still move forward for the major sequences, as long as you've touched most of the flowers.

The world is your canvas. Let it flow.
The world is your canvas. Let it flow.

Flower continues to capture our attention as we glide gracefully through the gentle hills. Its gorgeous visuals are breathtaking, and it's nice to be able to enjoy a game without the stress of dying or achieving objectives. There are simple objectives in Flower, but there is no reason to rush. We were told that in the final build, there will be trophies to obtain, for those who need something to go on. The preview build let us experience only a few levels, but we're eagerly waiting for other stages to fly through. Flower will trigger different feelings for everyone who plays or watches it--whether it's tranquility or nausea (people prone to motion sickness beware). The game is a wonderful piece of art that you can enjoy by watching and listening. We'll keep a close eye on this budding PlayStation Network game and update you with additional information as it becomes available. Be sure to check out our latest screenshots and gameplay videos as well.

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