Flower, Sun and Rain

Suffering for Art
by Joe Juba on Sep 22, 2009 at 02:03 PM
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: h.a.n.d.
Rating: Teen
Reviewed on: DS

What are you willing to sacrifice in gameplay for the sake of style? Unless your answer is ''everything,'' do not play Flower, Sun, and Rain. From the studio that developed Killer 7 and No More Heroes, this plodding mystery hides its intriguing story behind an impenetrable barrier of stale mechanics and repetitive tasks that practically beg you to stop playing.

To call this an adventure game is a stretch it's mainly just walking. You walk in all kinds of not-so-exciting places around a hotel, down the road, and back in the direction you just came from. Treading these meandering miles is made even worse by the game's refusal to provide direction; you occasionally traipse around for 30 minutes or more because no one tells you where to go or what to do. Even if you know your objective, you never get there without a solid five minutes of transit time especially late in the game.

Between hikes, the pockets of conversation and puzzle solving only deliver fleeting distraction. In theory, protagonist Sumio Mondo is unraveling the secrets of a secluded island. In reality, he is performing fetch quests with absurd amounts of backtracking and obtuse dialogue. Eventually some loafabout throws a puzzle at you, but you won't even break a sweat. These problems are pathetically easy; you're primarily just regurgitating numbers from an in-game guidebook.

The one saving grace of Flower, Sun, and Rain is the story. Despite my frustration with the mechanics, I liked the island's bizarre characters and abnormal events, especially the idea of trapping them all in a single repeating day. The premise gets even stranger once the plot twists come, but if you play FSR long enough to see them, you've made a terrible mistake.

Flower, Sun and Rain

What are you willing to sacrifice in gameplay for the sake of style?

Game Informer's Review System
Concept Solve a mystery in a hotel by walking to lots of places
Graphics Pretty blocky, but pulls it off thanks to the stylistic art direction
Sound The twists on familiar tunes create a great atmosphere
Playability Backtracking and fetch quests comprise the majority of your time with the controls
Entertainment If you can bully through the awful pacing and structure, the story is neat
Replay Moderately Low