Review – Flowers Are Dead
At this point, we’ve all seen the now infamous Flowers Are Dead trailer on Sony’s Youtube channel. In another mind-boggling move, the owner of the respectable Playstation brand has decided to grace us with a trailer for a game that looks so devoid of life that even the Resident Evil zombies feel like it is a downer, a tremendous party pooper. And well, you know me, if a potentially terrible game shows up on a storefront not called Steam, my morbid curiosity just forces me to check it out.
How to even begin a review for a game like this? Well, Flowers Are Dead is not the worst game I’ve ever played in my life, nor on the Playstation 4. It’s probably not even going to be the lowest score in this website, because believe it or not, the unholy triumvirate of Life of Black Tiger, Bravo Team, and Sword of Fortress have managed to outdo this game when it comes to being the worst thing in existence. Then again, this game deserves no praise whatsoever, at least intentionally, because I still managed to laugh at the developer’s incompetence at some points. More on that later.
Gameplay-wise, this is a walking simulator. Huge emphasis on “walking”. Flowers Are Dead makes the already lethargic Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture look like F-Zero in comparison. You walk at the slowest of speeds known to mankind, and to make matters worse, the camera shakes a bit with every step, as if you either had a limp or if you were a walking bobblehead. Failing at programming a decent walking mechanic in a walking simulator is something mind boggling. The game also features a glitch in which I can’t unpause it after pressing the Options button. The “resume” function on the pause menu just doesn’t work. That means that I had to quit the game and restart it in order to actually dive deeper into its phenomenal lore. That’s right, I played Flowers Are Dead one and a half times. I am pretty sure that is a record, probably even beating whoever did the quality assessment test for this game.
This is a mystery game in which you need to figure out what’s happening by collecting audio tapes, not unlike a game like Gone Home, for instance. In fact, I noticed a lot of similarities between Flowers Are Dead and Gone Home. Namely the deserted maps, reliance on easter eggs regarding 90’s pop culture and video games, an empty house as a setting, and most importantly, the fact that both are excruciatingly boring. The main difference between those two games is that Gone Home‘s developers knew a bit better how to distribute the audio logs throughout the game. Flowers Are Dead‘s gameplay is a beautiful masterpiece of incompetence that might just be the best feature it provides.
At the beginning of the game, the developers showed me a message stating that I should look for the tapes and listen to them one at a time. I was wondering why the hell would anyone need to tell the players how to properly listen to a freaking audio log in a walking simulator, until I realized that you can play more than one at once. Not only will the game play them on top of each other, but the subtitles at the bottom of the screen will also stack up on top of each other, resulting in a beautiful visual mess that can only be described as the pinnacle of incompetence. The developer was warning players to listen to a tape at a time because he/she couldn’t figure out how to program being able to listen to a tape at a time. I love it. I absolutely love it.
There are even more visual glitches throughout the game. Whenever you find a visual prompt, such as “interact with object” or “play record”, said prompt won’t leave the screen for the rest of the game. That means that it will also overlap with the audio log subtitles, turning what was already a mess into an even bigger and more phenomenal mess. There are also lots of framerate issues, to the point I started playing the game with the camera facing the floor because I knew that was the best way I could get something closer to 60fps. There’s just too much crap onscreen at any given time, and those Unreal Engine assets are only useful to bring the framerate to a halt.
It’s hard to find something to praise about in Flowers Are Dead. I guess I could say that the voice acting isn’t inherently bad, but considering that the game allowed me to play one audio log on top of the other, my juvenile mind just wanted to stack everything on top of each other, making it almost impossible for me to properly understand what was going on. Besides this, honestly, there’s nothing else that can be “praised”. It’s a game devoid of elements that would make someone consider it a game. I have no idea if this was a student’s experiment, because it reeks of blatant amateurism. Most importantly, I have no idea how this got published for the PS4, with Sony even endorsing the game by posting its trailer on its main YouTube channel. Maybe this was developed by some Sony higher-up’s nephew? We’ll probably never find out.
Flowers of Dead is obviously a bad game, but it didn’t infuriate me like other abysmal titles out there. In fact, it made me feel nothing, because this game is nothing. It’s mindless walking finding out about a story about nothing. It’s almost like I just gave twenty bucks to whoever calls themselves this thing’s developer out of charity, because I certainly got nothing in return. I hope I can use this as a tax deduction next year.
The best pre-made assets the internet can provide scattered aimlessly throughout a couple of maps that lack any cohesion whatsoever, as well as loads of visual glitches and framerate issues.
The developers have utterly failed at the most basic function of a walking simulator, as walking in this game is painfully slow. Also, there’s no way to go back to the game after you pause it. Great programming.
I give credit to the voice acting, as it’s actually not that bad, but the fact that you can just listen to a tape recording on top of the order just made me stop caring about cohesion and made me want to play as many tapes at the same time as possible.
Fun Factor: 0.5
Do you like walking at a snail’s pace doing nothing else but collecting tapes? Then I got a perfect game for you…
Final Verdict: 1.5
Flowers Are Dead is available now on PS4.
Reviewed on PS4.