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Short Game Reviews: 'Flower' (2009) and 'Mountain' (2016)

We've got a winner and, well, a dud.

Photo courtesy of PlayStation

1. Flower

Considering how much I enjoyed Thatgamecompany's Journey and Giant Squid's Abzü, I thought I'd try out TGC's older titles. Once I finally completed the last two hours of Team Ico's The Last Guardian, I still had enough game left in me for the night to take it down a notch and enjoy something I knew was going to be relaxing.

I absolutely adore flowers in real life, so the concept of Flower definitely appeals to me. You play as a flower petal, whose goal is to restore life in both urban and natural environments by gliding through unopened flowers and around other structures in the areas. The controls are simple; in order to move, you tilt the controller left or right (leave it be if you want to go straight) and press any button you wish to gain speed. You can also tilt your controller without pressing any buttons to go slower — you're advised to slow down in one of the later levels. There are seven levels in total for you to unlock as you go (including the ending credits) and they're all about the same in length. The only difference is that some puzzles will be trickier than others in terms of how to access certain flowers and areas.

While this is a much simpler and smaller-scale game when compared to its successors, Flower is nevertheless a very pleasant and emotionally evoking game. To be honest, I actually find the controls to be more intuitive in this one. It doesn't take long to realize that you don't need to steer like a madman in order to move around efficiently. The rendering and graphics do show their age, but the art style is lovely nonetheless. As usual, the soundtrack is majestic, uplifting, and sombre in all the right places. You also create cute little tunes with each flower you encounter.

I also like the fact that the narrative sort of promotes preserving the planet, as well as the urban lifestyle in a way. While we should be focusing more on eco-friendly alternatives and less on technological advances, it's still unrealistic for us to completely abandon everything humankind has strived for up until this point in time. Nature does its best to accommodate us, if we let it.

If you've got a PS3 or 4, want a good hour of pure bliss and possibly a little bit of drama, Flower is for you. I'll eventually get around to playing Flow, and even Cloud, if that ever gets remade into a commercial game. TGC is also working on a new game, so I definitely haven't gotten my fix yet. 

2. Mountain

This will hopefully be the last time I ever say this, but an art game made me mad.

David O'Reilly's Mountain is advertised as a "God" game, and usually in these types of games you give life to and manage civilizations. That's what I thought Mountain would be, you would grow flora, breed fauna, and create homes for mountain dwellers.

That's totally not the case here. Instead, you have no control over what happens on your mountain. It goes through its cycles on its own and you can only view it from whichever angle and distance you want. There will be the occasional object you can click on to find out what happens, but the only real action in the game is when you experiment with keys to create music that will activate certain events, either on or around the mountain.

Don't get me wrong, this "game" is breathtaking to look at and immerse yourself in and I really do appreciate the effort put into it. But even at 99 cents, it's really not worth it when you've got actual simple and educational simulations on Steam for free.

Add in my disappointment by the false advertising and we've got ourselves a dud, unfortunately. This is one of those games that should only really be released as a tester just to showcase the graphical and programming capabilities of your engine. 

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Short Game Reviews: 'Flower' (2009) and 'Mountain' (2016)
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