Monday, January 4, 2010

Games Of The Year 2009: Flower

Communication is an interesting component of the human condition. Not only does it allow us to converse in our day-to-day environment, it also defines our interactions and our understanding of them.

Flower communicated with me. It spoke with me on a level that I'm unlikely ever going to be able to articulate, but what I do know is that it goes beyond the mere mechanics that make up the game; beyond the intentionally evocative experience it provides; and beyond the sheer joy and awe as I experiment, explore and discover within its suitably small yet entirely effective spaces.

It was a game unlike anything else I have played before and one I suspect I won't see replicated in the future. It was truly unique, and while some were skeptical about the developers' intentions -- thatgamecompany constantly discussed pre and post-release about how they were trying to instill emotions in the players that they were unlikely to find in other games -- the end result, for me, was a game that demonstrated crystal clear just why I play videogames, why I will continue to play them, and why I am blessed to be able to see the medium meet its potential as it continues to expand, evolve and establish itself alongside the other entertainment mediums we all know and love. The fact it achieved all that, and much much more, through simplicity and a theme that almost everyone would understand immediately, is just the icing on the already amazing cake. Pure, epic, natural, fun.


Dithymia said...

I've seen this on a couple of GOTY lists. Probably a hint I should check it out

Steven O'Dell said...

Dithymia -- While there are a few more games on the PS3 now such as Uncharted 2: Among Thieves that do this, it was Flower that justified my purchase of Sony's console. It was a pleasant surprise, too, as I bought the console in late 2008 expecting it to be a 'future purchase': me buying it early in preparation for the games to come. To have that attitude then become irrelevant -- and so quickly too -- was almost as exciting as that first moment I spent with the game. Almost. ;)

Mario Di Pesa said...

Flower ranks high on my GOTY list as well, for several reasons. But probably the top reason is that its the only game I can think of that I could actually play in order to relax, which is something I've truly never really experienced before! I've played games for a long time, and they have entertained, intrigued, excited and even sometimes frustrated me..., but never before Flower could a game actually make me feel relaxed and at peace with myself and my surroundings. It's really a "zen" experience, and no amount of explanation can convey that so it has to be played to be understood. On that level alone (but also others, like its sheer beauty) it deserves all the praise it got.

Steven O'Dell said...

Mario -- Agreed 100%. I use it to relax as well by loading up a random level and just allowing the simplistic control of the wind take me to wherever I happen to go. It's such a peaceful thing to do and the experience is definitely bliss.

Just another fantastic thing about the game: you can play it following its structure; you can play it to explore and experience; or you can play it to relax. How can you go wrong with that?