The countdown of my personal picks for the best games of 2009 is now entering the home straight. Last week I revealed the first half, now we're moving into the top five. At #4 we dream of what lies outside our dreary apartment window...
4. Flower (PS3)
Flower is a minimalist masterpiece.
For me, it's about the journey. Tentative at first, you feel your way around the unusually barebones controls. Quickly you gain confidence and soon after you're soaring and swooping across the fields, giddy with delight.
Confidence turns to carelessness. You're in love with your new-found power. You're seduced by the thrill. You rush headfirst down one-way canyons, flying with reckless abandon down paths you can never retrace. You forget about consequences, about repercussions, about what happens when that power grows to control you.
Inevitably the master becomes the slave. Your freedom is lost and in its place you find yourself punished at every turn. You no longer swoop and soar, but creep and cower.
Flower's metaphor is obvious, yet it remains extraordinarily potent in its telling. And it does it all without a recognisable story or character, without a single word being spoken.
While the denouement may be banal in its sentiment, there's no denying the surge of triumph you gain in that final stage. Redemption and the promise of a new beginning can be exhilarating. Here it's life-affirming.
Kotaku AU's Games of 2009 are my personal picks for the best games of the year. I make no claim to have played everything released this year, nor do I pretend to be any way objective in my rankings. I look forward to debating my choices with you in the comments.