REVIEW: Florence - Nintendo Switch
Updated: Jun 8, 2020
A story of love, life and learning to let go.
With a release date of the 14th February 2020 (Valentine’s day for all of you who had forgotten!), it is no wonder that Florence, the debut game from Australian developers Mountains, focuses on the idea of first love. The game was originally released on IOS and Android in 2018 and has since been released to PC and Nintendo Switch in 2020.
Florence is an interactive story, following the daily life of Florence Yeoh - a 25-year-old woman who lives alone, works a 9-5 job and doesn't deviate very far from her routine. This is until she meets Krish - a musician busking on Florence's usual path to work. The game is made up of 20 chapters that explore the pair's relationship as it blossoms and eventually diminishes using clever, metaphorical mini games and interactive segments.
Using either the Switch's touch screen capabilities or a pair of Joycons, players relive the story of Florence and Krish by solving simple puzzles or by performing small swipes, pokes and twists. For example, in Chapter 5: First Dates, players must place pieces of speech bubble together to show Krish and Florence's first few encounters. With the puzzles getting easier as the two grow closer. Also, in Chapter 10: Moving In players must rejig and reorganise Florence's belongings in her house and decide what to keep and what to put into storage so that Krish can move his stuff in. There are also smaller interactions like choosing whether to like or share something on social media or how to reply to a text message that don't effect anything story-wise, just add another layer of interactivity to the game. It is small tasks like these and the lack of dialogue that emphasise that this game was made to tell a story and not to distract players with complex tasks or busy visuals.
Florence has incredibly endearing visuals - take note of the storybook style illustrations – that frankly, turn a mundane story of girl meets boy into a touching love story that caused me to audibly “aww” and “oh...” on more than one occasion. It is also the powerful use of illustrations over actual dialogue that sets Florence apart from other interactive stories. The comic strip style storytelling allows the player to feel more like a fly on the wall of their relationship rather than just a passive viewer. Think back to how powerful the ‘married life’ scene in Disney Pixar’s Up (2009) was, Florence has managed to harness that same energy.
I genuinely did not expect to love this short 40-minute game as much as I do. The relatable content, low effort interactions and beautiful soundtrack all set this game up to be the perfect game to play (either on your phone or handheld on the Nintendo Switch) in the evenings to help you unwind. The game also includes a ‘Gallery’ option in the main menu which is full of concept art, storyboards and other pre-production content. Like how you would watch a film and afterwards watch the bonus features just hoping to get more of an insight into the characters lives. I sincerely hope that this is the start of many more interactive stories from Ken Wong and the others at Mountains as there seems to be so much potential in this form of storytelling.
Florence is now available on IOS, Android, PC and Nintendo Switch with the latter costing only £4.99 on the E-Shop and £2.99 on the Play Store/App Store.