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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a warm-hearted game in which players control the movement of flower petals floating on a breeze as they travel over and restore color to grey fields. Probably one of the most mild and inoffensive games ever made, its subtle environmental themes leave players thinking a bit more about the world in which they live and the plants with which they share it. What's more, the motion-sensitive controls are almost unparalleled in their simplicity, making Flower an amazingly easy game to learn how to play, regardless of age.
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What's it about?
FLOWER, a downloadable PlayStation 3 game available from Sony's online PlayStation Store, suggests that lonely urban flowers spend their final moments before blooming dreaming of what it might be like to float on breezes over far-off fields. Players take control of this dream, guiding at first one petal, then dozens, and eventually hundreds by directing a digital draught that sends them flittering through meadows and canyons, causing other flowers to blossom, bringing color to yellow and grey swaths of grassland, and even restoring power to dead wind turbines. Players simply tilt and turn Sony's motion sensitive SIXAXIS controller to control the direction in which the breeze blows and press a single button to alter the wind's strength. A musical score composed of gentle, flowing orchestral movements acts as an ideal finishing touch for this remarkably placid game.
Is it any good?
Perhaps best described as an experiment in aesthetics and user interface, Flower is a serene and wholly delightful interactive experience. With no lives to lose or points to win, your objective is simply to go with the game's agreeably calming flow. At first, players will simply experiment with movement, tilting the controller to steer petals and pressing a button to accelerate. They'll fly low and high, fast and slow, exploring the boundaries of the giant field.Then, eventually, players will realize that there are actually a few objectives in this beautiful open world. Swooshing through unopened flower buds, for example, will cause them to bloom and release petals that will get caught in the breeze. Flying through whole groups of flowers will cause yellow patches of grass to turn green, other buds to pop up, and wind turbines to start spinning. The order in which you discover and tackle these goals is up to you.
What's more, the graphics are stunning. In the later moments of most stages there are hundreds -- perhaps even a thousand—colorful flower petals moving through the air at any given time. And when you send your breeze low to the ground it will push aside hundreds of individual blades of grass in rapid succession, creating an effect not dissimilar to a comb moving through a huge pile of silky smooth hair. Simply put, there's little else in the world of games quite like Flower. Floating over the countryside surrounded by flickering dabs of color is a unique experience, and one that open-minded gamers will carry with them for years after playing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Parents can talk about non-traditional games and whether they are as entertaining as their more predictable counterparts. Did you find steering a column of flittering petals through meadows and canyons to be as engaging as the action of games in which points are tracked and lives can be won and lost? Did you find Flower's environmental theme to be too vague, too preachy, or just right? Does the idea of a game with meaning beyond just pure entertainment appeal to you?