App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Thatgamecompany is a developer that has made a name for itself by consistently making games that fall outside the norm. Flower is a prime example of their dedication to new and interesting game ideas. At the time of its original release in 2009, the idea of making a game about being a flower pedal, or collection of pedals, or the wind blowing them was certainly not something you'd expect. Since the its release though, there have been quite a few games to come along that seem directly influenced by Flower, though few of them have been able to achieve the same emotional highs.
At its core, Flower is a puzzle game where you blow flower pedals around to other flowers in an environment in order to open up new areas and solve light puzzles. The entire experience is controlled using tilt controls to steer your pedals and touching the screen to make your pedals move forward.
It's a very simple game, but it's also a very relaxing experience. Flying through fields of grass and collecting flowers never feels overly difficult, but can still feel quite exhilarating thanks to a good sense of speed created by the wind and the grass that it blows over as you move around in the game.
Short, but sweet
Across Flower's six levels, players breeze their way through scenes of bright open fields, twilit farmlands, and more, with each level providing some kind of new mechanic. All told, the puzzles aren't really a challenge, which makes Flower pretty easy to plow through it one sitting, though this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Instead of trying to artificially extend its length or adding layers of complexity to its puzzles, Flower focuses on creating a cohesive and evocative world, which it does extremely well.
This is mostly due to Flower's immaculate presentation. The game has an impeccable color pallete and everything moves with a really satisfying smoothness. It also helps that Flower has an incredible soundtrack that really puts some weight behind some of Flower's more emotional scenes. As a simply audio/visual experience, Flower is a complete delight.
Wavering in the wind
Flower doesn't really tell a traditional story, but throughout the game, a certain narrative can be teased out from the atmosphere presented in each level. This story starts out as a somewhat subtle and nuanced experience but eventually turns into a pretty hamfisted and predictable parable. Although I thoroughly enjoyed most of Flower, the end of the game feels amateurish and unnecessary compared to the levels that came before it.
It's also worth adding that the final level of Flower is also the most frustrating from a control perspective. There are times in that level in particular where you need to tilt your screen to blow pedals vertically, and doing so feels awkward and difficult. So, in addition to being tonally flawed, the end of Flower is also by far the least fun part of the game to play.
The bottom line
Flower is a relaxing and beautiful game that is a totally fun and immersive until you reach the very end of it. In its final moments, Flower drops the ball pretty hard by subverting a lot of the things that made it so great in service of hitting players over the head with a message it had already been conveying much more elegantly before. Still though, it's hard to think of many other games (on the App Store or otherwise) that are as delightfully expressive as Flower, and that alone makes it an important game worth playing.