Author: Jessica Marsh
This is not a review but rather an anecdotal reflection on the power of video games. A written ‘Let’s Play’ if you will. Spoilers for the game below.
There are few games as moving as Flower, few that so quietly take you on a journey of self and prove how important the power of one is.
And few that remind you just how much you matter.
When I first picked up Flower, I expected a relaxing simulation much like fl0w. A meditative experience with no real consequences and a peaceful heart. What I did not expect, however, was that by the final chapter I would be sobbing, overwhelmed at how much I had achieved through this game. My trials, my triumphs, the fear and the joy.
Let me show you.
Flower starts in a meadow. You, a single petal, break free from the bud of a flower and float upon the wind. As with most That Game Company games, tilting the controller determines your direction. Pick any button to quicken the air you alight.
You are free.
You can explore the world as much as you like, the wind blowing you back where you can’t go. Though there is an obvious draw to the other flowers growing around you. Each one you fly by chimes a bell and the petals join you on the rush of air you control. Following the path of flowers laid before you, you find hidden gardens. Interact with each flower, help it bloom and watch as the grass around turns green again, until finally life is brought back to a dying tree.
That life, my friend, was all you.
Enter chapter two. It is here that you get a chance to marvel at the beautiful moments of catharsis this game has. Take advantage of the field of colours and paint a masterpiece over the grass, flying up and around each pillar of rock and shrub, collecting new colours as you pass.
Enjoy this beginning, take your time. Let the feeling of soaring through the sky, or close to the grass, wash over you. Lose yourself in the moment. Listen to the chiming bells, open your heart, let go.
Enjoy the whimsy, enjoy what you can do. Laugh and know there is hope.
In chapter three you have a purpose. A wind farm is at a standstill and needs your help.
Rush through the grass in the afternoon, caress blue flowers and power these beautiful machines. Nature loving nature. Man and mother earth working together.
How lovely it is to see this balance as the sun begins to set. As the turbines come to life while you play along the wind they generate.
And there it is. That moment of achievement. That warm feeling that you, a little petal, did something more than just play.
One of the most poignant experiences comes in chapter four. The sun has set, the fireflies are out and the blue flowers are aglow. Following paths drawn out in the grass sparks a wonderful bioluminescence and the serenity of the crisp night flows through you and your little petal.
On the edge of the wind farm you light haystacks and skip over ponds. Everything is at a hush.
Unfortunately it’s here things take a turn. You’ve reached the top of the mountain, and now you face the rocky decent.
Chapter five is frightening, harmful, and very dark.
You can’t avoid it. It’s a trial you must take. A moment of witness. At midnight you feel as though you are sitting at the bottom of a pit. Nails in dirt, stone kick scrabble your way to the top. Fight, hurt and take damage. Because you will take damage.
Break apart. Be afraid.
Understand what you’ve just seen. Reflect and let it wash through. This moment is very powerful if you allow it. Find a connection in your own life and make that little petal real. Make it you.
Hurt for the petal. It’s okay. You’ve both been through a lot.
Now I want you to pause the game.
Get a cup of tea, hug your cat, call a friend. Take a moment with what’s just happened.
It’s heavy, it needs to be. Hold that weight.
Now take yourself back to the brink of being okay again. Are you nearly there?
Unpause and let’s tackle chapter six.
You’re alone. A single pale pink petal adrift. There’s a barrier. Try to get through it. Can you?
But around you grow dozens of golden flowers. Visit each one and help it bloom. Accept their petal gifts.
Try that barrier again.
Broken beyond repair, the pieces fly behind you. You, a little petal with the borrowed strength of many.
Look what you just did.
Look at what you are capable of.
You are just one tiny petal and you did this. You lead the charge and said “no more!”
And it doesn’t end there. A broken, anguished, hurting city surrounds you. You can fix it, you can bring it back to life, restore it, and love it.
And you do. Everything falls before you. Nothing can stop you now. You race through this hurting city and you suck out the poison, pull out the thorns.
You face the evil. The evil who has no chance against you and you infinite strength, afforded to you by each flower you pass. You one hit K.O. purge every last ounce of thick black hate from the landscape. And there, once you’ve felled every last blight on the city, is home. A home you rush to greet.
You turn the evil into good. Restore balance.
A new day dawns and you are at peace.
Flower truly is a game to play when you feel you are incapable. Let yourself feel the little petal and its strength. Know that you can do just as much.
My friend, when you feel you are not enough, pick up a controller and let Flower remind you just how much you really are.
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