System: Nintendo Switch (also available on Steam)
Developer | Publisher: Mipumi Games
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US Teenagers
Price: NAM $19.99 | UK 17.99
Release date: February 12, 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’s a fantastic concept that the game executes. This point-and-click adventure puts a unique spin on the detective game: can you solve a crime from your wheelchair and the confines of your home?
Jorge does. The main character is a former police officer in a wheelchair. His apartment overlooks a crime scene, and from this high place they try to solve the case with only a few tools: binoculars, a camera, a phone…. and, oh, don’t forget Melinda. She is literally a curious cat (all the characters are anthropomorphic), a reporter who acts like your hands and feet at the crime scene.
You will spend a lot of time looking at this view from your balcony.
And you will be working with a cat.
More a story than a mystery
The puzzles in Flower Collectors are limited and simple. They’re not that difficult: you spend most of the game spying and observing, trying to figure out where people are with binoculars or pointing your camera in the right place. Here the game is less about solving puzzles than it is about watching the story unfold.
You spend most of your time observing wildlife with binoculars or a camera lens.
It is not difficult to fit the pieces of the puzzle together.
Despite the brevity of the game, the design includes multiple story options. I could be wrong, but there seem to be several endings to the story, or at least endings that you can try to solve in a second game. Personally, I don’t feel like replaying the game to get all the achievements because I would have to sit and wait. You wait for a specific character to get from point A to point B. But the wait is not so long that it seems like there is a bug in the game.
The visuals are not the most important thing, they only serve their purpose. The sound effects and dialogues are subtitled, so you can play the game even on a noisy train (though you’ll miss the actor’s voice). The music remains unobtrusive but effective as the dramatic tension builds. Movement and controls are smooth and trouble-free.
More movies than games
A good voice supports the unfolding of the story, and I enjoyed the interaction between Jorge and Melinda. By the end, the bad guy(s) felt a bit like cartoons, and I also felt that the themes of conscience and freedom could be developed further. But of course I shouldn’t expect anything more philosophically challenging from a 3-hour game. And it’s actually a pretty well written story.
The game is played entirely in the first person.
Flower collectors felt more like they were in a movie than a game. That’s what triggered such a reaction in me after seeing the films: a desire to think about the issues and discuss my emotional reactions.
For example, one of the messages in the game is, to paraphrase Jorge, “People should be able to live their lives the way they want to! This is a message that our generation would find very relevant and appealing. But I’m not sure how Jorge came to that conclusion, given his history. As the credits ran, I couldn’t help thinking, “Should we really be allowed to live our lives as we want? I mean, should the bad guys be allowed to do whatever they want?” To be fair, the context is clear: 1977 Barcelona, shortly after the dictatorial rule of Francisco Franco, which contributed to the “white horror” of violent political repression and the execution of thousands of people.
I am trying to find out who the local priest is.
Who is this game for?
Despite the dark context, the game is suitable for older children (maybe 10 and up?) and does not involve as much violence. The Flower Collector game may spark an interest in Spanish history or political systems. Even though the game doesn’t have much interest in history or politics, it does spark an emotional interest in the characters affected by the setting.
Can I recommend Flower Collector? Yes, if you are looking for something with a lot of history and don’t mind waiting for something to happen. Even if you don’t mind waiting, it can be a good exercise to quietly observe and put yourself in the shoes of someone like Jorge.
In short: I love it!
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