A moving experience and a true work of art.
Cons: Controls can be a touch unwieldy; First couple levels aren't quite as good as later ones
It's official: I've gotten more emotions from a game about flower petals than 90% of gaming. Somehow, without any characters or dialogue, thatgamecompany has made me resonate more with flowers than with the stories of almost all the games I've ever played.
Now, that's both a bit of a slam on game stories (most of them are crap), and praise for flower, which covers a pretty broad range of feelings in its short experience. You wouldn't guess what's coming just upon starting the game. All you really know is that you control the wind by tilting the controller, and can add a bit of power to the gust by pressing a button. As with their past work, flOw, thatgamecompany smartly avoids telling you too much, and just let's you experience things for yourself.
Initially it seems that this is going to feel fairly similar to flOw as well. As in the past game, the controls can be a bit imprecise, and the actions are simple and relaxing, but not deep. You start flying near flowers and pick up additional petals, restoring color to the field, and generally feel pretty nice. These first couple levels are pleasant, but not particularly remarkable. However, things only get better from there. Without spoiling anything, the next few levels offer great senses of wonder, rushes of joy, and even feelings of sadness. And with subtle details open to the user's interpretation, flower cements itself as a great piece of game art.
This is due in no small part to the beautiful way that the game handles its aesthetics. Every point in the game is reinforced by both music and art. On their own, the art is pleasant, simple, and colorful, and the music is easy on the ear. However, the way that the color scheme changes to suit the scene, or the volume and tempo alter themselves with the game experience is sublime. To create a truly effective piece of interactive art, all the different components need to work with one another, and thatgamecompany has succeeded admirably in that respect.
flower is art, and that should determine whether or not it's worth your time. You won't get any high scores, boss fights, or grueling puzzles in flower. Instead, you get a short, carefully executed experience that uses aesthetics and mechanics to elicit a broad spectrum of emotions. You get an experience that is easily digestible, yet is open to interpretation, and worth replaying a couple times. You don't get a game. You get art.