This generation has brought with it something better than high-definition graphics, furious exclusivity wars and predictable zombie inspired game modes. Digital distribution on the console market has instead produced an infinite possibility scenario with developers freer now from the shackles of the precarious financial undertakings associated with triple-A titles than ever (at least on console). The result of such a boon is contemporary titles like Noby Noby Boy, the PixelJunk series and flOw which have all dared to skew the established perception of gaming, disregarding conventions in order to submit a formerly rare breed of game that is equal parts thoughtful, equal parts insane. And that has to be a good thing.
thatgamecompany has again produced something inexplicable, again defying categorisation and flirting with the notion that their titles don’t even subscribe to the ideals of the traditional game. So to prove, there are few fail states and those that exist are effortlessly evaded. This is instead a game of seductive thoughtfulness; so little effort required on behalf of the player, an idea epitomised by a set of instructions that conclude within thirteen short words.
Guiding a petal through a cityscape certainly doesn’t ring familiar and the sixaxis controls; improved upon from flOw, add another degree of exclusiveness to Flower. It’s one of few games that benefit from the motion control and it helps seize the emphasis back from complex control schemes and places it onto the minimalist and effortless nature of the game.
But as with flOw, Flower is either going to emanate pretentiousness or poetry and through that it will sever audiences; you’ll either lose yourself within the meditative soundtrack and serene, vibrant surroundings or despise the almost complete lack of confrontation and consistent repetition.
But with genre conventions being relied upon more frequently and derivative titles released week after week, it’s more reassuring now than ever that a selection of console developers are eager to engage with something more imaginative, inspired and obscure. It may not have endless replay value, deathmatch or a bonus zombie mode, but Flower is powerful, unique and wholly invigorating.