Reaching for Petals Hands-On
There are universal truths we can all agree on: the sky is blue, the earth is round, and heartbreak sucks. Loss is, after all, a natural part of life. I’ve certainly had my heart broken, which is why I empathized so much with Reaching for Petals‘ surreal tale of one man’s love and loss.
Similar to Dear Esther and Gone Home, Reaching for Petals is a narrative-driven experience told through a series of seemingly disjointed memories. The demo, which spans the game’s first two chapters, began deep inside a lush forest. Surrounded by only a sea of trees, I found myself completely isolated, with no hints as to who I am or why I’m here. So I journeyed forth in search of answers and was immediately introduced to my two companions.
First, there’s the game’s dynamic orchestral soundtrack. What started out as a lone violin was soon joined by a piano, then a cello, and continued to mix and evolve, changing to accommodate each new area I visited. Complimenting these instruments was my second companion: the voice of a weary old man, whose philosophical narration actually took me by surprise – in a good way. His simple observations of the forest quickly turned into a full-on monologue on the cruelty of nature. I was so intrigued by the narrator’s poetry that I found myself stopping at times just to focus on deciphering the meaning behind his words. At one point, he even eloquently described a group of fireflies as ‘light-filled guardians’. Together, the soundtrack and narration worked hand in hand to fuel my desire to uncover the mystery behind Reaching for Petals.
“Reaching for Petals succeeds at conveying the emotions of losing a loved one.”
A sense of melancholy grew as I continued through the forest. The narration became more sinister. The sun seemed to cast more shadows across my path. I heard the chirp of birds, but never saw any real signs of life. It was like stumbling through some sort of half-remembered dream. As the narrator spoke of a lone oak that has endured the test of time despite the deaths of other trees around it, it clicked: he was talking about me. This was no ordinary stroll. The protagonist was going through something.
The game’s narrative only became more evident upon reaching a pink flower at the end of the forest (hence the name, Reaching for Petals) and being transported into a bedroom. There, I stood staring out into the night, like I had just woken up from a bad dream. I found hints of a woman: the protagonist’s wife, Renee. Something’s happened to her, I just didn’t know what. The second chapter of the demo dropped me into a shadowy cave. “You have never left this darkness”, the narrator warned me, “The abyss has become a companion.” When I reached the end, I caught a glimpse of a woman. Could she have been Renee? Unfortunately, she disappeared before I could get close, leaving me with even more questions as to what happened.
As can be expected from an exploration game, Reaching for Petals plays rather straight forward. The demo chapters featured linear paths, with minor environmental puzzles acting as the only obstacles. During one section, I was offered two sets of choices relating to the protagonist’s past – such as whether or not to follow Renee into the woods. Both choices yielded the same result, and it’s unclear whether the player can change the game’s final outcome. Reaching for Petals does have potential for replayability, as certain details will only make sense on a subsequent playthrough.
Reaching for Petals succeeds at conveying the emotions of losing a loved one. Provided it can sustain and build upon the moods evoked in this demo, it may prove to be a worthwhile experience. I look forward to hearing more of the narrator’s philosophical ramblings and finding some answers when Reaching for Petals releases later this summer.
*** PC key provided by the publisher ***