There’s something perfect in the unspoken beauty of two people just connecting in a shared, wordless, dialogue free moment. Coming together and without uttering a sound; laughing, crying, and communicating all their own with a language and a knowledge all theirs. Mundane tasks become the exceptional, every day and second suddenly transformed by a magical airy quality, by a shared connection that lifts the two of you above the petty fry and into an almost ethereal feeling. Joy. It is a bubbly and wondrous joy unique only to falling in love. Joy and a love of falling in love is what makes Florence so special.
Florence opens with players living the daily life of 25 year old Florence Yeoh. The routine, the monotony of it all, the feeling that she isn’t necessarily happy with where she is, or what she’s doing is impossible to miss. Part of the beauty of the gameplay of Florence comes in here, with players being tasked to brush Florence’s teeth, eat her food, and type in the numbers on her computer as she does work. Florence longs for more. She dreams of something bigger and having the player actively do all these actions for Florence makes that fact inescapable.
Then she meets Krish.
In some ways the closest parallel I can think of to Florence is actually outside of games; playing the game, experiencing the themes, and story of Florence Yeoh, I couldn’t help but think of La La Land again and again. It’s a snapshot of a moment in time in Florence and Krish’s life. The unbridled joy and flying, literal in this case, sensation of falling in love, of finding a connection of such power and depth and warmth that it shakes the old cobwebs of your life away, it sends tremors through everything until things have reoriented themselves, until you’ve been pushed someplace new and altogether different.
Florence is a short, 50 minute long game about love, relationships, and navigating being a twenty-something in 2018. Yet, in a larger sense this game is mostly a powerful glance at an important and life-changing time in our lives, where you are thrown the keys to your life and asked who you would like to be, what you would like to become, what is your great passion and how do you go about achieving it?
Florence’s greatest weakness is quite simply its run time, with its brisk pace oftentimes leaving me wanting just a few more seconds to spend in each chapter; leaving me with a feeling of longing for what was already gone after just a few moments. That coupled with the fact that Florence doesn’t throw any real surprises your way, you can probably guess how this story will play out and be pretty spot on, holds it back a little, but only just.
Over the six acts and 20 chapters of Florence the full breadth and spectrum of a relationship is charted. There were moments of giddy laughter and joyous smiles from me numerous times throughout my time with Florence, moments where I could scarcely contain how happy I felt experiencing Florence’s tale. There were also moments where the rocky cliffs of past doomed relationships loomed large and the waves battered and bruised you and asked that simple yet damning question of is this worth it? Do I hold on? Again, I say Florence is more La La Land then it is You’ve Got Mail.
Florence is a beautiful, quirky, lovely little mobile game. A mixture of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 500 Days of Summer, and of course La La Land. You will find yourself warmly encased by the sounds and sights of the game. Both of which are some of the finest I’ve come across in some time. You can almost literally feel yourself be lifted away, being carried away by the sounds of Krish playing music, by the way the world of Florence evolves into a kaleidoscopic of warm, vibrant colors, swirling and mixing all around you creating a beautiful tapestry and living legacy of joy and heartbreak to this vital time in Florence’s life and growth.
There is a point in La La Land where Emma Stone’s character Mia sings the line, “Somewhere there’s a place where I find who I’m gonna be,” Florence is subtly and slowly a game ultimately all about finding that place, about finding that person that you’re gonna be. The journey is magnificent and joyous at times, it is wretched and tearful at others. It is always full of emotion and heart and an intelligence and respect for the player and for Florence and the difficulties, hopes, and fears of being a young adult. Above all, Florence is a game of dreams. It is a tale, not of the endless, eternal love we usually see stories chase, but instead of a different life changing, soul affirming love that opens you up and allows you to reach out and grasp the dream of yours and then fades away. Not all love need be everlasting. Florence isn’t perfect and it by no means reaches the incandescent highs of something like La La Land, but it is easily one of the finest games on love I’ve played and it without question is a modern day classic millennial tale of love, growing up, and the fools who dare to dream.