Flower Impressions: The Serenity of Blowing Petals

Flower is an odd game to describe. In fact, I'm not sure it's technically a "game" at all.

The downloadable PS3 title continues in the serene, calming atmosphere of thatgamecompany's PlayStatin 3 creature-eater life simulator flOw. Thus far, it seems there's no way to fail, no way to die. My two-level demo had no enemies whatsoever. nope

Instead, the game is all about blowing flower petals throughout a level, all the while gathering a larger cloud of petals and revitalizing a barren landscape. The controls are a simple, one-button setup: hit a face button to blow the wind, and tilt the Sixaxis to control its direction.

Wait, don't go. I know the concept sounds fruity. But something about blowing a giant cloud of flower petals is intrinsically fun. And when combined with the serene music and gorgeous visuals, it's more than just fun; it's relaxing.

And the motion-sensitive controls work well. Within seconds I was twisting, turning, and arcing my cloud of petals through the world, climbing high in the sky and and then swooping down to run alongside the ground.

You start out with a single flower petal. Somewhere in the sprawling level, usually nearby, is a glowing flower bud. Brush past it with the wind and the flower blooms. Hit enough flower buds and it'll trigger the next event, be it more buds or the addition of color.

There's a sense of discovery to all of this, as you're never exactly sure what will happen when you hit that flower. Will it revitalize the landscape with color? Will it bring up more flowers? Will it unlock the next area?

And whereas the tutorial level has you painting the landscape with the expected colors--green grass, blue skies--the second takes an entirely different approach. Swatches of violet soon give the world a distinct look, one that's entirely unexpected and reinforces that whole sense of discovery aspect.

While the two demo levels were set both set in a sprawling valley with rolling hills, associate producer Randall Lowe promised that additional stages--referred to as dreams--would showcase a number of different themes. He could offer no specifics, but I'm hopeful for snow-capped mountains.

Sony and thatgamecompany aren't quite sure when Flower will make its downloadble debut in the PlayStation 3's online PlayStation Store, and an exact level count is still up in the air; no pun intended.

Hopefully it's sooner rather than later, as Flower's mix of pretty graphics and calming gameplay made it one of the most unique titles, and one of my personal favorites, on display at Sony's booth.