Take control of a fan as you strive to gently blow a flower to the goal. Control the flower by proxy across 60 levels using only the power of wind. Take the flower through all four seasons to reach the goal. Breeze comes with a chilled, lilting soundtrack and an emphasis on the smooth. Breeze is light entertainment for persons of any age.

Null City Software seems to have heard players wishing for a more action oriented Blow and created Breeze to answer their prays. Whereas Blow had players placing fans about a level to push bubbles toward an extra, Breeze lets them control the fan directly. The goal remains mostly the same; Breeze asks players to guide a flower petal toward some marked exit while ensuring that it doesn't collide with any hazards along the way. The game quickly introduces sun light orbs to collect in order to activate the exit prior to landing the flower, and the bulk of Breeze's 60 levels appear to be designed with that additional goal element in mind.

Breeze offers two difficult settings: the normal one where best times are recorded and an easy one which does not record best times but does allow players to have the fan touch the flower without penalty. Breeze's flower is very brittle, and I found myself showered in a rain of petals more often than not due to colliding my fan into the flower while trying to position it. The fan is controlled freely with the analog stick and is turned on with the right trigger, automatically tilting itself at all times so that it faces the flower. In easy mode, the flower is protected by an invisible shield which prohibits such accidental ramming as seen during the game's normal mode. Since the flower reacts to the fan's power and distance, it's natural to want to move the fan close in to speed it along to best one's own time or the Null City time which is displayed for each level. I found the controls to work very well, and any "death" was always due to being overzealous with the fan or under-prepared for the braking time and distance needed to halt my speeding flower. Even though these run-ins can be frustrating at times, the player is always able to resume and retry the level right away which eases the growing pains of mastering the fan and learning the levels.

The one minor gripe I had with the control is how the game asks the player to press the right trigger to start each level. Seeing as the fan was always nearby a ceiling on the levels I played during the trial, I found myself having to be careful not to ram the thing into the wall just to begin the game. The inability to shift the fan prior to the game's start made this all the more annoying, and while players will quickly learn to use a light touch on the trigger to begin the game, it feels like an unnecessary inconvenience and somewhat disorienting to begin each stage having to wrangle the flower in from the starting procedure. Beyond this small nuisance, I found Breeze a joy to play, and I am definitely interested in picking this one up when I have more time. Unfortunately for Breeze and creator Rob Hutchinson, I've yet to finish playing through Blow, and taking on another fan-based puzzle game albeit with different mechanics and quite excellent itself is not something I'm able to budget time and money for at the moment.

I won't forget though, because Breeze is gorgeous. Well, the fan is gorgeous. It's hypnotic the way the fan spins and stunning how well animated it is. On contrast, the levels and background graphics are decent but fail to live up to the excellence presented by the player's fan. It's really something, and the lack of animation on the flower itself and somewhat banal backgrounds leave Breeze's visuals looking unfulfilled. The flower explodes wonderfully when smashing into an object, but it definitely could use some more hands on with its drifting and floating presentation. The fan looks real; everything else does not, and in a game with such few elements, it's difficult to ignore the discrepancies in style, detail, and animation. I also am not a fan of the Gin Blossoms sounding college rock soundtrack, because while it is fine and does suit the game I suppose, light acoustic rock feels tired and predictable for a "flowery" game.

In the end, it does feel silly nitpicking Breeze for such seemingly trivial details because at its core is a wonderful puzzle game which deserves to be played. With 60 levels to play, good controls, and a decent selection of options, Breeze feels like to Blow what Flower is to Flow, a spiritual successor to an established hit but one retaining a personality and feel all its own.

August 19, 2010
August 15, 2010 | 240 points
Developer | Video | Download

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