Game: The Flower Collectors
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam)
Developers | Publishers: Mi’pu’mi Games
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US Teen
Price: US $19.99 |EU $19,99 | UK £17.99
Release Date: 12th February 2021
Many thanks to Mi’pu’mi Games for the review code!
The more I think about The Flower Collectors, the more I think it has a fantastic concept, one the game executes well. This point-and-click adventure puts a unique spin on playing detective: can you solve a crime from the seat of a wheelchair and the confines of your home?
Jorge can. Wheelchair-bound ex-cop, he’s the protagonist whose wheelchair you inhabit. His apartment overlooks a plaza where the murder is committed, and from that high-altitude perch, you try to crack the case with just a few tools: binoculars, camera, phone … and, oh, not forgetting Melinda. She’s literally a curious cat (all the characters are anthropomorphized), a journalist who acts as your hands and feet on the crime scene.
More story than puzzle-y
The puzzles in Flower Collectors are few and easy. They’re not very puzzle-y; you spend most of the game spying/observing, trying to spot where people are through your binoculars, or pointing your camera at the right spot. Gameplay here is less about solving puzzles and more about watching a story unfold.
Despite the game’s brevity, its design includes a few plot choices to make. I might be wrong about this, but there seem to be slightly different endings available or, if not, at least loose ends in the plot you could try to resolve on a second playthrough. Personally I don’t feel like replaying to snag all the game’s achievements, as I would have to sit through all the waiting again. There’s quite a lot of waiting around for this character or that character to walk from point A to B. But the waiting isn’t so long that it feels like a gameplay flaw.
The visuals are not something to gush over; they just do the job. Sound effects and dialogue are subtitled, so you can play the game on a noisy train (though you’d miss the voice acting). The music remains low-key yet effective when dramatic tension increases. Movement and controls are smooth, no problems there.
More movie than gamey
Good voice acting supports the unfolding of this tale, and I liked watching the interaction between Jorge and Melinda. The villain(s) felt a little like caricatures in the end, and likewise I felt the themes of conscience and freedom could be expanded on. But, of course, I shouldn’t expect something philosophically more complex from a 3-hour game. And it’s actually a fairly well-fleshed out story.
Flower Collectors felt more like watching a movie than playing a game. It elicited the kind of response I have after watching movies: wanting to think about the themes and discuss my emotional reactions.
For instance, one of the messages in the game is, to paraphrase Jorge, “People should be allowed to live their lives as they please!” It’s a message our generation will find highly relevant and appealing. But I wasn’t quite sure how Jorge arrived at this conclusion, considering his history. As the credits rolled, I couldn’t help thinking, “Should we really be allowed to live as we please? I mean, should villains be allowed to do as they please?” To be fair, though, the context is clear: 1977 Barcelona, just after the dictatorial reign of Francisco Franco, who contributed to the “White Terror” of brutal political repression and execution of thousands of people.
Who is this game for?
Despite the grim context, the game is suitable for older kids (perhaps aged 10 and above?) and doesn’t go into that brutality much. Playing Flower Collectors might generate interest in learning about Spanish history or about political systems. While the game doesn’t go into the history and politics much, it creates emotional interest in the characters affected by that setting.
Would I recommend The Flower Collectors? Yes, if you’re looking for something very story-focused and don’t mind waiting for things to happen. Even if you mind waiting, it might be a good exercise in quiet observation and putting yourself in the shoes of a man like Jorge.
Final Verdict: I Like It a Lot!