Thursday, August 31, 2006

Flower Quest Review

Flower Quest, developed by Bee Games and published by Alawar Entertainment.
The Good: Decent mechanics, beautiful background graphics, appropriate sound and music, sundry bonus levels
The Not So Good: Can become repetitive, limited tactics
What say you? Innovative design results in a fun puzzle game: 6/8

Flowers are pretty. There are gardens just so people can pay money to look at flowers. People (and by people I mean women) like to get flowers. So it comes as no surprise (or does it?) that flowers would eventually become the base of a puzzle game. We’ve had balls, virii, gems, tubes, bees, shipping containers, meteors, and professors; it’s about time the flowers rise and up represent! Flower Quest fulfills this prophecy of flower domination in the puzzle realm. All hail our flower overlords!

Despite their low resolution, the graphics of Flower Quest look really good for a puzzle game. The title is chock full of high-quality 2-D art in both the menus and the game space. The playing pieces, which consist of flowers and roots, are more detailed than other puzzle games. It’s obvious that a lot of attention has been paid to the graphics in the game, and Flower Quest ends up being one of the better looking puzzle games, in spite of the lack of any 3-D graphics of effects (you don’t need 3-D graphics for a game to look good). The sound maintains the high level established by the graphics: the music and the effects both fit the theme of the game well. The game’s fanciful theme is established early on and is maintained throughout the game in the graphics and the sound.

In Flower Quest, you’ll rotate root systems in order to connect a continuous path between flowers (or, in challenge mode, a root and a flower). The game highlights paths that are currently connected to a flower, so finding a match is pretty easy. The game requires you to form a path through each of the blocks on the map before moving on to the next level; in more advanced levels, you must clear paths through specific blocks more than once. There are 50 stages in the game, each of them is a different shape but plays the same. Each of these stages can be played in three modes: adventure mode has a time limit (and a story), relaxed mode has no time limit, and challenge mode adds an intermediate step to the completion process. There are some special flowers that may come up: some flowers can destroy adjacent tiles (good), and some can restore cleared tiles (bad). The game has a gradual tutorial (like most puzzle games), where each new concept is added one at a time. The game also has periodic bonus levels, which involve clicking or arranging objects; this serves to slightly break up the pace of the game. The core concept of the game is solid, but Flower Quest has few tactics that can be employed in the game. Rotating objects doesn’t require as much skill as other puzzle games; this is good as the game can be played by all ages, but more experienced players will be disappointed at the lack of depth in the game. Flower Quest also becomes repetitive after a while: even though each puzzle looks different, they all play the same. The bonus games are not enough to vary the gameplay sufficiently and keep most people interested past the first few levels. Because all of the puzzles feel the same, there isn’t much replay value in Flower Quest, so once you beat the game, there’s not much reason to play it again.

Flower Quest is a good game, but most people will grow tired of the repetition in the game after a while. The basic game concept is simple and straightforward, the art is fantastic, but the game just isn’t varied or different enough to be interesting after the first couple of rounds. This is mostly due to the small range of tactics that can be used in the game: Flower Quest is all about clicking and rotating roots, and making this more difficult entails smaller time limits rather than differentiated gameplay. For a puzzle game to be fully successful, it needs to feel different each time you play, and Flower Quest does not. The game will prove to be enjoyable at least initially, but its welcome will wear out soon enough. Whether you’ve gotten $20 worth of fun is up to the player, but there are other similarly priced puzzle games with more replay value than Flower Quest.