Reaching for Petals Combines The Unknown With The All Too Familiar
If you never go outside once this summer, the least you can do is play Reaching for Petals and pretend that you took a walk. Yes, there’s going to be a man yelling at you the whole time, something about the meaning of life and the parallels of civilization versus the wild and all that, but you’re still kind of outside, right?
But if I can be serious for a moment here, Reaching for Petals might be the most impressive preview I’ve played this year. The quality visuals provided by the Unreal Engine 4 have always left me astounded. Thankfully, it seems Blue Entropy Studios has mastered that which the engine has to offer, and the results thus far are proving more than satisfactory. But the question is will it prove worthy of your time in the end?
Take A Walk On the Mild Side
Whom you play in Reaching for Petals is, at least for the moment, unknown. In my near thirty minute preview I was able to deduce that you are most likely male, and probably coming toward the end of your own life. There is a romantic interest that has either passed on or left in some other manner, and the faceless character of whom you have control is there to come to terms with this current point in his or her own life.
Gameplay is similar to that of Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture in that you are a human very much alone with nothing but the environment and the past to urge you onward. Interacting with the world at large reveals as much about it as it does the character in question, which is you.
As the player walks, a narrator begins to, in no simplistic terms, describe the forest. He also draws parallels between the forest, civilization, mankind, animal life, and how not all things are as they seem on the surface. This is all well and good, but the narrator is a bit overly dramatic in his delivery. Because I’m hard of hearing, I had to turn on the subtitles just to make sure I was understanding everything being said correctly. At first I found the constant barrage of text bubbles delivering information that didn’t seem all that pertinent, while subsequently overflowing in detail, a bit exhausting at times. However, as the bits of game I got to play unfolded, descriptions and narrative building got better. Things began to gain a sense of existentialism and self reflection instead of just conversational meandering.
A Shot In The Dark
During my preview I got to see two very gorgeous settings. One was a sunlit forest with a river, stagnant ponds, and some forgotten architecture left to the elements. Another was a deep and winding cavern, dimly lit with dancing sunlit patches guiding the player. No presence of danger seemed to exist during my play of Reaching for Petals, but the atmosphere certainly leaves one feeling isolated and with just the slightest sense of dread that darkness and solitude affords the human psyche.
While a few visual quirks were evident, I was overall astounded with the beauty that this game promises upon completion. I was especially impressed with the lighting within the cave and how the water on the walls and floors glistened with the small remnants of light.
The third environment that was used to break up the two nature maps was somewhat less impressive. Strange textures marred a lot of what was shaping up to be a wholly beautiful game, and some strange lighting effects had me concerned about future environmental installments. Thankfully the player doesn’t seem to be spending much time in these interim levels, at least for the moment.
Will It Live Up to Expectations?
As of this moment I’m a little leery of what Reaching for Petals will deliver in terms of story. Because this appears to be another walking simulator, the story is what really needs to drive this game in order to make it. While I’m hoping that the visuals live up to the narrative, it’s hard to say too much just yet. Still, in terms of outdoor level design Reaching for Petals has something going for it. Here’s to hoping that it will play as beautiful as it looks!