628 MB of bliss

User Rating: 8.5 | flower PS3
The game opens on six flower pots on an apartment window sill overlooking what appears to be a city skyline. Right away you will realize that Fl0wer does not play like other games. There are no menus, no Help options. You move the camera between the six flowerpots by tilting the controller (not the joystick, but the whole controller) in one direction or the other, and you select the desired flowerpot by holding down any button. Simple as that.

At first you can only select one of the flowerpots. Do so to watch a brief scene showing traffic rushing through a city at night. Then the screen shifts to a single flower in a sea of swaying grass. Press a button on the controller and a petal floats up from the flower with a musical ting.

Music and visuals are bonded more closely in Fl0wer than in most other games. Every occurrence on the screen produces a corresponding sound, be it notes from a harp, guitar, or piano, or larger scale changes in the background musical score.

But what, you are likely asking, do you as the player actually do? At first you may think you're controlling that one drifting flower petal I mentioned earlier, but that's not the case. You actually control the speed and direction of the wind that blows that flower petal around a huge grassy field.

Besides the grass-each blade of which is rendered individually in real time for the most accurate response to your movements-there are also many other flowers in the field. Your job is to sweep past them, blooming them and drawing more petals into your personal wind tunnel as you go. Draw enough flower petals and you will unleash a tornado of them into the level, creating life and color in places that started out as dead and brown, very similar to the game Okami.

But unlike Okami, you aren't trying to save the world. You are simply living out the night dreams of six different flowers. Thoughtful players will find a narrative to Fl0wer, with a romanticized vision of nature and an almost comically villainous concept of concrete-and-steel civilization. And while the developers may become a little preachy with their metaphors, they do manage to create some of the most beautiful moments I've ever seen in gaming (not to mention a single, unexpected instance of unease on par with the most awful scares in Resident Evil 4).

Flower is a starving artist's game. It lasts around 2-3 hours, costs less than ten bucks, and has more heart than most multi-million-dollar releases. Researchers have discovered that video games and meditation create similar brainwave patterns, and Fl0wer is probably the best representation of a game that could double as a form of meditation. I recommend you turn off your lights, turn up your speakers, and join the blissful hum of nature.