Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Genre: Interactive Novel
Release Dates: February 13, 2020 (EU & NA)
Florence is a short narrative experience following the story of 25-year-old Florence Yeoh as she meets Krish, a musician she falls in love with, running you through the day to day experiences any relationship goes through, including the happy moments as well as the sadder ones. One thing that you should be aware of is that this is not a forever after happily married for life story, but instead a tale that inspires self growth, understanding and self confidence, so if you recently went through a breakup Florence might be the boost you need to get over it. Although a short experience taking less than an hour to go through, the game takes you through several stages of Florence's life, helping you understand her personality a bit and giving you some context for the positive message the game wants to relay.
Its short running time might be a downside for people who were hoping to understand Florence as a person better before jumping into the conclusion of this game's story and while that would've certainly been a welcome addition, the short narrative is a favorable point for those who don't want to spend too much time with a video game and just want to get a positive story with an uplifting ending they might need after a breakup. Even though Florence is the main character of this story, its plot is not much about her as it's about all of us, as each person has at some point in their life gone through a breakup and that's what this story is about.
Even if Florence was originally a mobile game built for touch controls, it plays really well on a controller as well as mouse and keyboard, as the gameplay is based around dragging objects across the screen as you would on a mobile game, as well as different swipe based movements for things such as brushing your teeth or just going through the comics style drawn artwork that provides a bit more context to your usual scenes where interaction is required. Dragging an object across the screen naturally takes more time to do on a controller than it would if you were to do it on a touch screen, but there is no time limit to anything so that shouldn't much of a problem. One thing that Florence does well is connecting gameplay to different emotions, as you can reply with different emojis in some situations and there's this conversation mechanic between Florence and Krish where you must place a few puzzle pieces together in order to form a response, which change shape depending on the tone of discussion between the couple.
As Florence is an accountant there will also be some puzzles related to that, requiring you to match some numbers or solve some simple math calculations, but aside from that most gameplay consists of swipe based movements and click-based interactions with different objects and aspects of the game. Florence is the type of game that can be played on any device due to its simplicity and if playing mobile games is something that you do, that might be an even better option for you, but regardless of where you play it you should know that even though its mechanics are nothing mindblowing, there are some clever ways in which the gameplay contributes to the story and the tone of the game.
The game is presented in a comics type style, with some sections just requiring you to scroll down through different scenes and even the gameplay sections have the same appeal even though they are interactable, it's simplistic but refined at the same time as each scene was drawn with an emotion in mind and that emotion is passed on to the player wonderfully. Both Florence and Krish are presented as normal persons living their every day lives and having different clothes in each chapter, so it's less about making a character memorable and more about making them relatable.
There is no voice acting or dialogue at all, instead the game uses things like emojis and conversation tone via those dialogue puzzle pieces I've mentioned earlier to tell the story and change the mood of the characters, but it does that with such passion that it doesn't need any dialogue to pass on its message. The soundtrack fits the game nicely and also changes depending on the situation, while the sound effects are limited to basics such as the Like sound you're probably used to from your real life social media.
There are some achievements for doing a couple of things in a specific way and you can select any chapter after finishing the game in order to get the ones you've missed without having to replay the whole thing, but aside from that that's pretty much it, Florence is a one time experience that's meant to send an uplifting message and leave you thinking about it and relationships in general for a while without needing you to get back to it.
It falls on to you to decide if 4,99€ is worth it for a 40 minute experience, but if you need a hand after a bad breakup this is still way cheaper option than a psychologist so it might just be the thing you need to lift up your spirits, just know that this is a story first game where its message is the most important aspect of the game.