The Flower Collectors
Developer: Mipumi Games
Publisher: Mipumi Games
Review Context: I’m generally a fan of games with good storytelling, but I am always attracted to crime investigation T.V. shows and games that make that attempt like L.A. Noire, or a more casual point-and-click approach with decisions like The Wolf Among Us.
Date of Playthrough: April 18, 2020
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-9700F CPU @ 3.00GHz
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER
Disclosure: This review is based off of a review copy provided for free.
The Flower Collectors, developed by Mipumi Games, is a game that caught my attention due to the crime-solving presentation of the trailer, as I’m one of those people who gets easily drawn into crime-solving media. The last crime-solving game that I played was L.A. Noire, so I was hoping The Flower Collectors would scratch that itch, as plenty time has passed by since I played a decent detective game. The game is set in 1977 Barcelona, Spain and inspired by classic crime noir films and Campo Santo’s Firewatch. Since this is a very story-rich game, I will do my best to dance around spoilers and deliver my verdict on the story itself.
The main character, Jorge, is an ex-cop that is wheelchair bound and suddenly finds himself as a witness to a murder. The premise of the game is that Jorge, along with a journalist, Melinda, embark on a mission this murder together. The story starts rather quickly, but the game still manages to give you enough backstory of Jorge to make you care about him in the very beginning. What adds a lot of life to The Flower Collectors is the voice acting, as Jorge, Melinda, and several other characters are voice acted, but many characters aren’t, a development decision that I found head-scratching for a game like this.
This is mostly a very narrative-driven linear experience, so most of the gameplay entails the player moving Jorge within his apartment, onto and around his balcony, and helping Melinda navigate the plaza below him by using binoculars, a camera, and an audio transmitter. It’s hard to be lost, as the user interface on the top left always tells you tasks of what to do, and they are all very easy to figure out, with only a few of them involving a little puzzle thinking. The strength of The Flower Collectors is the immersion of viewing the plaza below with binoculars or a camera, as using mouse controls you just hold right-click and move your mouse across the screen like you would in real life with binoculars. It’s through this action with binoculars, and similarly with the camera, that you spot people’s movements and interactions with one another to then relay that information to Melinda via the transmitter. Due to the linearity, with the camera you can only take pictures of what the game wants you to take a picture of, so while it may sound like you’re taking a picture of something, it only counts if the game wants it to.
The user interface of The Flower Collectors is rather bare, with objectives on the top left, and when you want Melinda to interrogate or move towards another location or person you are given another prompt. Although there are interrogations in the game, I was disappointed that the player doesn’t do the interrogating. So what this means is that Melinda is sent to interrogate a witness, then she relays what happened in the conversation shortly after via the transmitter. It would have been much more immersive to have the player ask questions as Melinda, so I was very disappointed by this aspect of the game. It felt like the developers left a lot of potential on the cutting room floor. That’ doesn’t mean there aren’t any dialogue choices though, as there are a few key moments in the game where the player gets to make a decision. The impact of some of those decisions are unclear to me, but there is one at the end of the game that is important.
This wouldn’t be a crime-solving game without putting together the pieces of the puzzle or witnesses. The game is separated by chapters, and after key developments in the case you go to your wall where you put together a chronology of events with pictures and drawings. When using the binoculars Jorge draws pictures of what he sees and then puts them on the wall when it comes time to put together the order of events. This is another part of the game that could have had more gameplay and impact, but it was as linear as the rest of the game. You have to put the order of the events together and there is no fail state for lasting impact and the game the sort of tells you where things go anyway. Once I accepted this linear aspect of the game this didn’t bother me quite as much because I had come to realize that it served as a good storytelling tool of conveying events of the case.
Now that I accepted the linearity of the experience, the saving grace of the game had to be the story for this whole thing to work. From beginning to end, I always felt like I wanted to know more and got more interested as the case unfolded. By the end of the game you learn the meaning of “The Flower Collectors” and the case has a conclusion that I found acceptable. Although they may appear silly on the surface, the anthropomorphic characters of the game blend into the experience nicely causing me not not even realize that part of the game. One of the great things I’m impressed with in the game is the sound mixing, as the ambiance of being in an outdoor balcony over a plaza is very well done, as well as the weather sounds. The soundtrack also serves as a great background for this 1977 Barcelona setting.
The Flower Collectors is a game that you will play for the story, not the gameplay, although the tools like the binoculars and camera serve as good storytelling accessories to keep you engaged. The story is very engaging, contains good voice acting, but this is a game that wont be for everyone. After playing and finishing the story in just under four hours, I unlocked all the chapters for me to play again in the menu, but like a lot of these types of games, I prefer my first experience to be canon. There are achievements within the game and you’ll have some left over after your first playthrough if you want to play certain chapters again to see alternatives. I come away from The Flower Collectors with a positive feeling, as I truly felt MiPumi Games left of passion in the story, not to mention it made sense, even if I felt the gameplay could have been expanded a bit.
Similar Games Liked:
The Wolf Among Us (PC)