TGS 2008: Flower Updated Hands-On

If a flower could dream, it might be something like this beautiful PSN adventure game.


TOKYO--If a flower could dream, it might look something like the upcoming PlayStation Network game Flower from developer thatgamecompany (who also made another strong game statement with 2007's flOw on the PSN. We first saw the game back at E3 2008 and have been impressed with its lovely imagery and simple aesthetic ever since. Today, on the floor of TGS, we had a chance to check out Flower for ourselves and try our hands at playing the petal-pushing wind.

Flower's plot is minimal but nonetheless effective. The game's evocative imagery begins with a single, bent flower, wilting in the windowsill of a drab-looking apartment. The next scene has the camera pull back from a equally dour painting of a city, as if the flower is dreaming of leaving its urban confines for another land. You're then transported to that land--a flowing landscape of gentle hills where we return to that single flower. Holding any button will begin the level, as a single petal breaks off the flower and begins its exploration.

Control in Flower is as simple as can be. You hold any button to add wind to the petal and steer it around the level using the motion sensors in the PS3 controller. Angling the controller left or right will turn the camera (and the petals) in that direction, and you can adjust the elevation of your flowers by pitching the controller up or down. It's a bit like a flight simulator, only far more pleasant to control and with no fear of crashing.

The goal in Flower? To search out the other flowers in a level, make contact with them, and restore life back to dead areas of the levels you will explore. As you zip through the levels, all you need to do is touch a planted flower to restore it to life; doing so will add petals to your ever-growing collection until you have a veritable storm of flower petals following your every whim. To clear a level, you simply have to activate all of the flowers in an area then move on to the next. In a particularly nice touch, the game's elegant musical score is punctuated with soft musical touches each time you activate a flower--the result is a unique musical accompaniment that truly adds to the game's already pleasant atmosphere.

While we were mesmerized by its lilting soundtrack and gorgeous visuals, it remains to be seen if that simple aesthetic is enough to keep someone engaged with Flower for a long time. Still, there's no denying that it's a beautiful attempt at marrying games and art and we look forward to exploring its melancholy approach in the near future. Flower is set for release in 2009.

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