There’s an elegance and richness to the simplicity of Flower. While many forms of audio/visual creative expression try to express ideas in the most direct and blatant means possible, Flower does it with not a single word being spoken, allowing the visual experience to tell the player all that needs to be expressed.
At first, the game delights in the beauty of nature. The player navigates a single petal that quickly becomes a chain of petals through rolling hills or an idyllic farm scene in order to cause flowers to bloom into fields of vibrant, rich colors. If Flower decided to stop here, it would be a visually rich, memorable experience.
However, Flower wants to be more than just a sensory experience, it wants the visuals that the player navigates through to be more sophisticated and nuanced. As the game progresses, the tone becomes darker as power-lines begin dotting the landscape, and then piles of industrial waste litter the land. The gorgeous vistas are replaced with bleak, barren landscapes.
Initially, this seems to express the dark underbelly of the move towards progress, that the natural world is ruined in the attempts to build civilization. It starts with just power lines breaking up the scenery, but becomes more and more intrusive into the world as the game progresses. Once again, Flower could simply end here and still be an effective story but even this is not enough.
It’s the final level where the ideas and visual designs of Flower are synthesized into a solid idea. The petals of flowers suddenly become a force to destroy the piles of rubble, transforming them into apartment buildings and towering skyscrapers. These buildings quit being drab grey blights on the land and gain the same hues and colors as the flowers while fields of grass and rows of flowers pop up between apartment buildings.
Instead of pitting nature and industry against each other, Flower seeks a more mature and nuanced understanding of the world, one in which nature and human industry are seen not as odds with each other, but two things that can be synthesized and placed in unison with one another. Flower seeks to break down what it sees as a false dichotomy, seeing both worlds as beneficial to one another, not in opposition.
By the end, there are not two worlds at odds with each other, but one world in which beauty and wonder shines through all things. A field of roses and a vibrantly colored building are not two separate sights, but two parts of the same picture. Flower offers a vision for modern life in which beauty is not to be found in one world or the other, but something that can be mixed together and fully delighted in wherever one is in the world. And that is a thought of beauty.
© 2015 James Blake Ewing