But the absence of challenge isn't the least bit disturbing, because by the time it should become relevant Flower's gentle pace and expressive visuals have disarmed you of traditional notions of achievement. The superficially repetitive design is embellished by the game's grace and simplicity to the point that the things you do and see are the unspoken focus of your efforts. Spreading light across a field and gliding through canyons at knee height is empoweringly tactile, and the game is aesthetically coherent down to the smallest detail.
The way the petals move through the air is so convincing that it requires almost no consideration, and the silhouettes of industry that lurk in the pitch-black transition between the game's cheerful initiation and the final few levels are like shapes moving in the water. The impulse to proceed floods from these details just as it does from your first glimpse of the world outside Vault 101 in Fallout 3, or the first time you exit the hills above Damascus, Acre and Jerusalem and stare down upon Assassin's Creed's playground of minarets.
The only thing that punctures this, ironically, is the way the endgame leans too hard into tradition, inviting you to collect everything you possibly can and probe extremities to uncover green flowers, three sets of which are secreted in each level. There's almost no end to the simple pleasure of floating through the summertime but prolonged exposure to each environment weakens its grip on you until the stranglehold of immersion is broken and you're just collecting objects to make another object appear. There are many good games that are about nothing but collecting objects to make another object appear, but Flower is a good game for other reasons.
It is, simply, a game where you want to see what happens next, because whatever does happen next will be delicate, beautiful and pleasurable, and never so hurried as to overburden the spectacle and sense of immersion. Even viewed warily through the haughtily lyrical prism of thatgamecompany's artistic mission statement, these are the characteristics of a well-designed videogame, and the torch-wielding art police would do well to encourage them rather than arguing about the designers' motivation. Not least because in this age of overblown expectation, the developer's candour and Flower's composition are honest enough to make it clear whether or not the game will appeal to you in seconds. It certainly did to me.
With all this in mind, it seems almost horrible to have to debate the price, but GBP 6.29 is the figure Sony's gone for and, although beautiful and engaging, Flower's brief, film-length experience would be better suited to something closer to flOw's original GBP 3.49, and that ultimately counts slightly against it.
8 / 10
Flower is due out exclusively for PlayStation 3's online store on Thursday 12th February.