REVIEW: The Flower Collectors

May
08

REVIEW: The Flower Collectors

A murder mystery set in the time of political turmoil

Released: Steam, GOG
Type: Singleplayer
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Mi’pu’mi Games GmbH
Publisher: Mi’pu’mi Games GmbH
Release date: 21 Apr, 2020

Franco is dead, and Spain days from its first democratic election. In these turbulent times, a former police officer witnesses a murder take place. With the help of a young reporter, he now needs to figure out who was murdered, and why, while at the same time deciding where his loyalties lie.

The Flower Collectors is a story-driven adventure game, where you play as this former police officer. Stuck in a wheelchair, you can’t leave your home, but instead, observe the world around you from your balcony.

She’ll be your eyes and ears out on the street

Story & Setting

It’s Spain, 1977. Francisco Franco died less than 2 years ago, and Spain is preparing for its first democratic election since before the Spanish civil war. But Spain’s future is uncertain, and there are forces that pull in many different directions. Some want to retain the authoritarian rule that Spain has been under for a long time, others want to open up Spain more, and let people live free.

You’re playing as a police officer who was forced into retirement, as you hurt your legs so badly that you’re forced to sit in a wheelchair. One night you witness a murder taking place right outside your window. A young reported, clearly upset, comes running up to your apartment, seeking a place to hide.

And this is how the game starts. As you try to solve the mystery of who the victim is, and why someone would kill them, you’ll, of course, find out that things are not as straight forward as they first might have seemed, and that the people living and working near you all have their own troubled past, that make them if not suspects of the actual murder, at least people worth keeping an eye on.

As you’re wheelchair-bound, you can’t go down and directly interact with the people out on the streets, instead you’re an observer. From your vantage point, you can see almost everything that’s going on. The young reporter, on the other hand, can get out, and she’s the character you’ll end up talking with the most, through a walkie-talkie or when she’s up in your apartment. She’ll fill you in on the details that you can’t get from just looking at things from above.

Something’s fishy about how the police is handling this….

Graphics & Sound

The Flower Collectors has a consistent stylized look to it. The characters are slightly cartoony looking anthropomorphic animals, and the world around you has a similar look, being somewhere between realistic and cartoony. It’s a good looking games in screenshots. In action, things don’t look quite so good though. Characters have quite robotic animations, and the walking animations often don’t quite line up with the walking speed of characters, making them slide around a bit. Transitions between animations also don’t look very natural. If this was a game that went with a realistic look, this would look very jarring, but due to the games art style, it only looks a little bit jarring.

There are only a few characters in the game that are voiced, and the voice acting is for the most part alright. There are some deliveries that are done a bit better than others, but the voice acting still adds to the game, rather than detracts from it.

The soundtrack is often quite effective, being with slow and quiet tracks playing when needed, and when things are heating up, the soundtrack kicks into gear and becomes more noticeable. And sometimes there’s no music at all, you just get to hear the ambient sound effects. The sound design is overall quite good and really helps to set the tone for each scene.

Double standards

Gameplay

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact genre for The Flower Collectors. Is it a point & click adventure game? A walking sim? Something in-between? Something else? The game is a bit more interactive than many so-called walking sims, and you’re not doing a whole lot of walking, being stuck in a small apartment with a balcony for the duration of the game. But like a walking sim, you’ll, for the most part, be a passive observer. Things are happening around you, and you’re not able to directly influence most of them. Sometimes you’ll guide your reporter friend, by pointing out points of interest to her, or telling her when she can move past other characters, and you’ll also be tasked with figuring out series of events based on the clues given to you, by arranging them on board, but a lot of the gameplay is just you sitting on the balcony, with a pair of binoculars or a camera, and observing the things that are going on around you.

There are also a few times when you need to make choices. Do you tell the police about all the things you saw during the night, or do you chose to withhold some information? Exactly what you say in situations like this does influence some future scenes. And there are also scenes where you can miss events if you’re not fast enough. This won’t prevent you from beating the game, but you might miss out on some smaller side stories.

Figure out how all the pieces fit together

Closing Thoughts

The Flower Collectors won’t be a game for everyone. If you crave action or tricky puzzles to solve, then this game won’t appeal to you at all. Instead, this is a game that tells a good story, at a relatively slow pace, and that tries to immerse you into its world.

Personally, I really enjoyed this game. I thought the story was well told, and interesting, and I liked how the game was able to break up these story segments with some simple puzzle solving. And if that’s what you’re looking for, then you’ll likely enjoy this game. Just beware that this game does deal with some heavy political issues, regarding late 70’s Spain, and it does take sides, so if that bothers you, then proceed with caution. The game is also quite short, but I think it’s as long as it should be, given the story. Had it been much longer, chances are it would have ended up feeling a bit padded.

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