Flower

It may not seem like it but Flower is a game about explosions. 

I'm a gust of wind that picks a single petal from a flower then whooshes off with it. The petal flicks around, a toy in a puppy's mouth, as I zoom downhill, parting the grass like a meadow Moses. When I hit more clusters of flowers they spring to life and add new petals to my swirl. Color spreads through the nearby plants, glowing with life and vibrancy. It's an explosion, just a peaceful explosion of growth and natural beauty instead of propellant. Shockwaves emit from a central point, and stones tilt away as the force washes over them. It may not be a fireball, but I think Mr. Torgue would be proud all the same.

Flower is the kind of arty indie game that could easily have been hippy-dippy goop. It isn't, and one of the things that saves it is being wordless. No italicized poetry appears in the sky, at no point does the voice of Mother Earth berate humanity for inventing roads. In fact, Flower incorporates man-made constructions in its later levels. Bleak skyscrapers are bad but it's fine with windmills, streetlights, and so on. 

It's not a game that wants you to tear up the pavement, but it would like you to appreciate parks and gardens. I finished it with a powerful urge to plant something. 

When I try to leave the meadow I slow down, then get buffeted back on track. While zhuzhing down a gully I miss some pink flowers and try to turn back, but am fought by the wind all the way except that I am also a wind? Unless I'm like an invisible petal wizard or something. You have to go with the flow or it'll fight you, but when you relax into it and let the shape of the landscape guide you, Flower coaxes you into a real state of relaxation and saying "ooh" every five minutes. 

You know how great the wind blowing through trees in The Witcher 3 is? It's that, but instead of playing as Geralt following tracks from a murder scene you are the wind rattling leaves around.

Flower was originally released on PS3 in 2009, picked up a bunch of awards, and finally made it to PC 10 years later. It's available on Steam, GOG, and Epic.

Flower

I've always been a little annoyed that Flower was a PlayStation 3 exclusive. I liked Flow quite a bit, it was dreamy and trippy and just artsy-fartsy enough to avoid feeling silly, and I was really looking forward to trying a bigger and deeper and more sophisticated followup—but not to the point that I was willing to buy a PS3 for it. 

I supposed I've harbored a bit of a grudge in the decade since, especially after thatgamecompany's next game, Journey, was also exclusive to the PS3. Anyway, none of that matters now because as of today, to mark its tenth anniversary, it's available on Steam, GOG, and the Epic Games Store.   

Flower is a simple exploration game in which you take control of the wind and guide it across lush landscapes, changing them in different ways as you go. It's "an incredibly personal and emotional experience," which is perhaps laying it on a bit thick, but Flower won numerous awards when it was new, including the "Best Independent Game Fueled by Dew" in the 2009 Spike VGAs, Playboy's "Best Indie Game" of 2009, and "Casual Game of the Year" award from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. In 2011 it was selected to be one of 80 games showcased in a videogame exhibition at the Smithsonian, and two years later was added to its permanent collection. 

So it's really good, if you like that sort of thing, and now you don't need a PS3 to play it. And in case you missed it, Journey is coming to PC too—no date on that yet, though. 

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