Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
As color became the norm for visual media of all types, the conscious use of black and white soon became associated with artistic restraint. Titles like Limbo and Contre Jour show that this phenomenon applies to games as well. But while Phantom Flower's monochromatic art style is lovely, players shouldn’t let it fool them into thinking the game is deeper than it actually is.
Phantom Flower takes place on a single patch of forest during the middle of a rain storm. Most of the rain drops are harmless and pleasant to watch, but the occasional red rain drops threaten to snuff out the rare Phantom Flower itself. Therefore, players must tap the red rain drops before they touch the ground in order to protect the Phantom Flower for as long as possible. Basically, it’s a game about frantic tapping - not the most thoughtful or complex thing in the world. Fortunately, the fast speed and steep difficulty curve mean matches never wear out their welcome. Also, as the player progresses, mysterious circles appear on screen that bounce around red drops like pinballs, making it tougher to track their trajectory. However, even with that added mechanical depth, this is ultimately a very simple game.
But it is a fun game to inhabit. Phantom Flower may look a little fuzzy compared to sharper games with similar visuals, but it still impresses with visual tricks like depth of field. The harmful red rain drops also look especially neat contrasted against the peaceful black and white game world. Meanwhile, the sound design is almost as overwhelming as the torrent of rain drops. The pounding water combined with player’s constant tapping produce a cacophony of tones. The experience is more like entering a room full of ambient vibrations than listening to music. It’s intense, but still surprisingly Zen.
Phantom Flower's shallow gameplay isn’t going to change our world. But its atmospheric presentation beckons players to spend time in its world.