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Flower

Platform(s): PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Genre: Simulation
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: ThatGameCompany
Release Date: Feb. 12, 2009

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PS3 Preview - 'Flower'

by Geson Hatchett on Aug. 17, 2008 @ 9:07 a.m. PDT

Playing as the wind, the player guides and accumulates a swarm of pedals by interacting with other flowers and the surrounding environment, causing the on-screen world to change. The goals and journey in each level vary, but all involve flight, exploration and interaction with the level.

Genre: Action
Publisher: SCEI
Developer: thatgamecompany
Release Date: TBA

Few had any idea what Flower was before attending Sony's closed-doors showing at E3. The previously released screenshots of leaves and petals flying around in fields didn't say much.

The bad news is, after attending said closed-doors showing, most folks still have no idea how to categorize this game. The good news is that it does look like a heck of a lot of fun. Flower exudes a serene, relaxing atmosphere rarely seen in video games today. Where most games exist to stir up adrenaline reserves and provide hard objectives, Flower does the exact opposite, while giving the player carte blanche to go at his own pace should he or she — no pun intended — decide to stop and smell the roses.

The result is refreshing, to say the least. Who would have thought the massive power of the PS3 would ever be used to render and animate 200,000 grass blades in real time? So used is the gaming public to being able to see every bloodstain and fabric thread on military fatigues that an application of processing power such as this instantly garners attention.

Flower is made by the same people who made the PlayStation Network's breakout downloadable hit flOw. During the showing, thatgamecompany's Jenova Chen made it a point to stress that Flower was not a "sequel" to flOw, but more like its design principle taken both to new heights and in a completely different direction at the same time. The theme for the game is "life in balance," with the aim for this and the company's other titles to explore emotion in video games.

To those ends, the main game mechanism of Flower is using SixAxis controls to manipulate the wind, which picks up flower petals as it goes. One petal can gather more petals, which in turn can gather even more, for a rainbow symphony of flimsy flyers. These petals soar around fields and meadows and have a number of effects, such as colorizing the landscape, activating machines, reacting to pieces of the environment, and causing other flowers to bloom and release their petals, allowing the cycle to perpetuate.

Why do this at all? As for the premise and the story, it's all abstract by design. What we were able to glean, however, is that each stage in Flower tells a story, which is actually the dream of multiple protagonist flowers. Each of these dreams affects the world in which each flower lives upon completion. These flowers actually live an urban life, stranded in pots — a stark contrast to the amount of freedom that their petals experience in the wide-open fields featured within the "dream" stages.

Flower is still very much in the early stages of development, and as such there's no concrete release date for it yet. Still, what was shown was engaging and intriguing, and we'll definitely be following this to see where it goes. This was definitely one of the breakout pleasant surprises of the show, and by this reporter's observations, had various journalists talking about it for the rest of the day.


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