A beautiful story of adult life and the trials that come with it.
Adult life is really hard, something you tend to not realize until you’re actually experiencing it. It’s easy to fall into a routine; sometimes you work a job you kind of hate, and for some people it also tends to get kind of lonely. Many will find themselves in their first serious relationship during this period of time, as is the story being told in Florence, brought to us by Australia-based studio Mountains. Originally released to critical acclaim for mobile platforms in 2018, Florence has found itself a wonderful home on the Switch.
Florence tells the story of Florence Yeoh, a twenty-five-year old woman living in Melbourne, Australia. When the game begins, her life is currently stuck in a rut, as she is subjected to a seemingly endless routine of working a soulless accounting job, being nagged by an over worrying mother, and spending the end of her day in front of the TV. One day, her phone dies while she’s out and about and she finds herself drawn to the beautiful music of a cellist playing in the park. Eventually she meets this cellist, a man named Krish Hemrajani, and the two quickly enter a relationship. This story is told through a comic book or storybook style aesthetic, with simple but beautiful hand drawn art to go along with it.
Gameplay in Florence takes on two forms. If playing in handheld mode, the player can choose to either use the Joy-Cons or play using touch controls similar to the original mobile release. If playing docked, a gamepad or Joy-Con is obviously the player’s only option. While neither option really detracts from the game overall, it is still slightly noticeable that the gameplay in general is more tuned to the touch controls than anything else. Every scene in Florence has a slightly different mechanic, all serving as abstractions of everyday actions such as brushing your teeth or eating food. Some of these are controlled entirely through the right stick, while others require you to use the A button in order to select or click and drag an object. My personal favorite of these is the gameplay used whenever Florence and Krish are talking, in which the player is required to piece together a speech bubble out of puzzle pieces in order to move the scene along.
Florence’s story is told beautifully, as a near perfect marriage of gameplay and storytelling. Every scene makes it easy for the player to grasp exactly what they should be doing to move the story along in a way that means anybody could pick this game up regardless of their previous gaming experience. Despite there being no actual dialogue whatsoever, it is always easy to tell what’s happening in any given scene, and the player will likely find themselves developing a powerful emotional connection to Florence and her story. This story is accompanied by an absolutely gorgeous orchestrated soundtrack composed by Kevin Penkin, who is otherwise best known for his work on the anime Made in Abyss.
Overall, if you are looking for a deeply emotional and relatable story about the joy and challenges of love and everything that comes with it, Florence is definitely a game you cannot miss. With its simple gameplay, lovely art, and powerful soundtrack, anybody can pick it up and find themselves connected with the story of Florence and Krish. It’s a happy story that takes some sad turns, but in the end it provides a wonderful message of hope for the future. With a short run time of around 45 minutes to an hour, this is the perfect game to show to your family in order to convince them of just how games can be used to artfully tell a tale of adulthood.