Florence is a mobile game that captures the fleeting feeling of new love and how temporary moments in life can feel. Backed by an assortment of mechanics, Florence tells a slice of Florence Yeoh’s life during her mid-twenties as she finds herself.
I truly love games that don’t involve combat, or murder, and try to capture human emotion through gameplay without overt narrative. Florence is one of those game; it is themed towards romance but still a successful attempt at capturing the key moments and emotions in life through interactive gameplay. From falling in love at first sight to the mundane existence of office life; the game communicates as much through gameplay as it does through visuals and music. PLAY WITH THE MUSIC ON! My favorite part of Florence Yeoh’s journey is the conversation mechanic.
Florence uses jigsaw puzzles as an abstraction for conversations. Early on in the game, Florence struggles on a date with Krish, the love interest, and the jigsaw puzzle has many pieces that are oddly shaped. This represents the awkwardness of first dates: it is a jigsaw puzzle but there are many pieces and they are slightly odd in shape. As you continue in the game, the jigsaw pieces have less pieces and are easier to place; an analogy that as you spend more time together as a couple, it becomes easier and easier to communicate with your partner. By the end of the game, there are segments where the jigsaw puzzle is simply placing a completed bar on the puzzle slot; a.k.a. we are having conversations on auto-pilot, likely conversations we have had many times before. This is all executed perfectly during the most heart-breaking part of the game I dubbed: The Argument.
At this point, Florence and Krish’s relationship is wilting until an argument sets it ablaze with each character no longer holding back. While playing the argument, I found myself getting annoyed with Krish through the mechanics, and my own imagination filled in the narrative for Florence. Every time I completed a puzzle he completed one right back. “Did he drop the puzzle pieces in the same order I did? Is he mocking me? WTF Krish”. I found my adrenaline building; I wanted to win the argument! “Why do you get to chase your dream of being a musician while I’m stuck in an office?”. I got more and more into the argument, I’m now lapping him in puzzle completion. “Take that Krish and your stupid Cello. Who plays a Cello anyways!”. By the end, I realized I have become a monster and our relationship wasn’t ever going to be the same again. Who am I to insult Krish? Should I apologize? Should he apologize? How did this game make me internalize an argument between animated characters? I immediately went into self-reflection mode of past arguments from my relationships. I realized at that moment Florence is a masterpiece.
Florence is just as long as it needs to be and cost a mere $2.99 on the App Store (link) or Play Store (link). This game is a must for any game developer/designer/person who reads this blog; there are a lot of great ideas that are executed extremely well. And frankly, we don’t have enough Florence’s being made in the game industry so lets celebrate this one. Everyone of all ages and backgrounds can appreciate this game and as a developer you can find many components to draw inspiration from. For me, the argument will live in my game design toolbox as an amazing blend of gameplay, theme and visual narrative.