Spoiler Warning: This is a very short game and although I won't give specific spoilers, I will talk about the theme of the game.
Okay, I know what you're thinking. I specifically mentioned on Sleepy Toadstool's "about" page that I exclusively review games played on Nintendo Switch and PC. That was the plan. This might be the one exception, although: I'll explain how this game has opened my mind a bit to reviewing more mobile games. For the most part I don't like using my phone for games (I did perhaps have a prolonged Angry Birds phase), but there may be situations such as this where an excellent game is not only exclusive to mobile but also very well suited for the platform. Anyway, Florence is a short storybook-like phone game about a young woman's life and her story falling in and out love.
You play as Florence, a young woman, living a very routine life. Florence turns simple tasks such as brushing your teeth and talking to your mom on the phone into small puzzles. The puzzles aren't there to be challenging, necessarily, but just to simulate the tasks she's doing. In the beginning, this only involves Florence and her day-to-day, until she starts dating a musician, Krish, who she meets one day on a walk. You play through the start of their new relationship, the honeymoon phase, and watch it grow from there. You play through their relationship in every realistic aspect - even a puzzle mini-game where you're arguing with Krish and trying to get the most words out.
It's hard to define Florence as either a visual novel or a puzzle game, because it plays differently than either of those genres. Mobile games are perhaps opening up space for new genres of games, because the interface and progression is just so different. For the most part, I don't enjoy "challenging" games on my phone because I feel like the platform doesn't allow for me play as I'd like to. However, this is the type of game that I think fits perfectly into the palm of your hand. It's not about a challenge, but stories and puzzles that you can peacefully travel through in the comfort on your bed (or wherever you play phone games). After having played this, I'm open to more indie mobile titles that are using mobile in unique ways.
Florence has an incredibly beautiful soundtrack that ebbs and flows as the story does. Just from the home screen, the music makes you feel like you're about to watch a beautiful animated film. Sure, I don't have a ton experience with mobile games, but I'm still going to ahead and say this game's still stands apart within its category. The art style, as you can see from the screenshots, is so simple and colorfully illustrated. It actually fits in to the narrative with Florence's passion for art. Colors are used selectively to pop in certain scenes and evoke a certain emotion or focus.
Now, the reason Florence absolutely was a win for me was because of its use of storytelling through game mechanics. It's not telling you a story, you're a part of the story. I won't say the specific moment that broke me, to keep from spoilers, but it involved me having to actually perform an activity, so it was hard to do through tears. The story it tells is fairly universal, for anyone who's had any sort of relationship that felt like being on top of the world, only to drop from that terrible height, and wonder if it was all worth it at all. Tip: Maybe don't play this on Valentine's Day like I did. (Just kidding, I'm in a happy relationship so I was able to get through it... somewhat...)
As emotionally heartbreaking and painful as this story is, it succeeds in leaving the player with a hopeful and positive message. Relationships don't always last forever and they're not always just good times, but someone who you part ways with can still make a significant impact on your life. That person may be gone from your life, but the experiences you shared and the influence they had on you will always be with you. It's not easy to move on, but
This review was a little sappier than usual, but Florence really captured a love story in a way that really fit perfectly into a game, a theme that doesn't always reach me when it's in other mediums. As someone who doesn't play many phone games, I can really say this one is definitely worth it and will surprised you with what it can do. It costs very little on both mobile stores and I can't imagine it not being a lovely little experience for anyone.
Florence is available for Android and iPhone.
Played on: Android Phone
Playtime: 1 hr
How I heard about this game: Highly acclaimed and award-winning