Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Flower, Sun and Rain: Murder and Mystery in Paradise (2008)

Genre: Mystery  |  Players: 1  |  Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture

I'd describe Flower, Sun and Rain as a mystery game, but it’s a mystery game developed by Suda 51, so it’s typically beyond the realms of weird, slithering into bat-shit crazy territory.

You play as Sumio Mondo, a 'searcher' with an ability to find lost things. Aided by a talking suitcase named Catherine you interact with items in the game world that are real and unreal, spiritual or just plain bizarre. You decode puzzles by plugging Catherine into objects, consulting your guide book or talking with the other guests of the Flower, Sun and Rain hotel.

With little instruction or help I found myself wandering around lost a lot of the time; a heck of a lot. Not that I could wander very far, much of the game world is closed off in its own tightly controlled hermetic space, which is very irritating.

It’s populated with a cast of weirdos that speak a mumbling kind of gibberish, much like Suda’s Killer7 (2005) game. There's a non-linear David Lynch sense of time. Sumio exists in a seemingly-endless time loop that adds further mystery to the story. The reason you were summoned to the hotel in the first place is never far away from your mind, but at the same time seems a million miles away.

The most frustrating thing (besides the lack of instruction) is the repetitiveness of the text. You’ll end up talking to the same person a lot and reading the same thing over and over while trying to pinpoint a single word that might hold a clue to the mystery. It gave my head a mini-meltdown.

I'm glossing over a lot of details here because of limited space, so I’ll end by saying if you like Suda 51’s brand of the bizarre, or want to be frustrated to the point of agony with puzzles that initially seem to have nothing in common with their eventual solution, then you may find something of interest in FS+R.

2½ eerie peepholes out of 5

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