Reaching for Petals is an atmospheric “walking simulator” game by Blue Entropy Studios. Released in September 2017, the game guides the character Kai through beautiful landscapes to the top of a mountain while recounting the story of him and his childhood lover, Renee. Reaching for Petals is one of the first true walking simulators that I’ve played, save for a game like Abzu which is in a similar vein.
The main selling point of this game is the atmosphere and setting. Guided down a linear path through environments of lush trees, hillsides curling around mountains, and even damp caves, there’s no shortage of pretty things to look at. One of the most stunning views in the game was the northern lights that can be seen after scaling the mountain. One downside to all of this is the need for a powerful computer — even with a 970Ti graphics card, Reaching for Petals can only be run on the lowest settings.
Gameplay-wise, you’re not getting much here. Even though the environment is gorgeous, it’s effortless to distinguish where you can and can’t go — and this prevents you from being fully immersed because the corridor-like level design is a constant reminder that the environment you’re in is still just a game. Additionally, the walking speed is dreadfully slow, and can only be sped up slightly by holding shift. I pressed shift for the entire 50 minutes it took me to complete Reaching for Petals — a harrowing experience for my pinky finger.
Another weak point of Reaching for Petals is the story. Being a fan of To The Moon, A Bird Story and Firewatch, I’m no stranger to immersive, engaging, tug-at-the-heartstring games. The story in Reaching for Petals is too cliche. The story recounts only two characters, in which they live out a predictable, idealistic love story. Only at the very end did I feel any connection to the fictional characters.
The sound design of Reaching for Petals is one thing that’s done well. The poetic narrator was calming to listen to, the sound of a gentle breeze and flowing water made it easier to imagine myself walking through the game’s world. The orchestral music built up at dramatic moments and faded back into obscurity when it was time for me to appreciate the scenery; a nice touch that helped emphasize certain parts of the game.
The word that rings in my head when I think of Reaching for Petals is “lackluster.” Frankly, games like Abzu and Journey just did it first and did it better. There is nothing memorable about Reaching for Petals because no part of it’s design feels complete. However, costing only $5, it might still be worth checking out if you have some curiosity. For me though, the only thing Reaching for Petals left me reaching for was the “quit” button.
Reaching for Petals is available on Steam.