Developed by Mountains Studio and published by Annapurna Interactive, Florence is a beautiful indie game that is available through the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Mac, Steam, Nintendo Switch, and GOG.com. The full experience is about thirty minutes or so long, accompanied by a melancholic and gorgeous soundtrack by Kevin Penkin. The music and the art blend together to create a bittersweet story about love, heartbreak, and finding yourself in the world of adulthood.
Although it is a short game when all is said and done, Florence is a story that has replay-ability and the soundtrack is available on Apple Music and Spotify for as much listening as you want. The game recently celebrated its third anniversary on Valentine’s Day, and it follows the protagonist of Florence Yeoh and her daily routine navigating adult life until she stumbles upon an aspiring musician named Krish. Without spoiling too much, you follow the development of their relationship, consisting of both heartfelt moments and intimate struggles.
The titular character Florence is Chinese while Krish is Indian, and there tends to be a stark lack of representation for people of color in games and their stories often go untold. There is also a gap in representation of interracial couples that cross cultures in popular media, but Florence does both. There are subtle hints scattered throughout the story of Florence and Krish’s cultural backgrounds. It’s lovely to see diversity celebrated and depicted in an engaging way — especially when there has been increased anti-Asian sentiments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having such media representation concerning relatable topics of love and adulthood humanize people of color.
The player is able to uniquely engage with the game through the use of tapping, dragging, and rubbing the screen in different manners that are intuitive. They certainly add to the experience of interaction with a game that reads like a visual novel, despite using essentially no words; save for the names of the chapters and a few details of text here and there. The emotions are conveyed through the use of the expertly crafted soundtrack, the vibrant expressions of the characters, and the thoughtful shift in colors. There is one interactive scene near the game’s climax that took me a few minutes to complete during my most recent playthrough, but the struggle I experienced further lent itself to the plot in an unexpected manner. Oftentimes, you find that puzzles or other ways to interact with games are intended to add to the gameplay experience as means to spend time, but I have never had it play a significant role in the overarching story.
Annapurna Interactive has published a variety of other indie games, including some familiar titles such as Sayonara Wild Hearts, Donut Country, and What Remains of Edith Finch. Florence itself has received a variety of awards — the Best Mobile Game for the 2018 Game Awards and 15th BAFTA Game Awards, the Apple Design Award 2018 from Apple, Portable Game of the Year for the 22nd Annual DICE Awards, Best Debut for the Game Developers Choice Awards 2019, Best Mobile Game for the Game Developers Choice Awards 2019, and the Best Game Design in the 2019 Webby Awards. Florence is well-deserving of these awards and Mountain Studios, located in Australia, did a phenomenal job for their first game. I’m looking forward to their next game!
Overall, Florence is an experience that is best played through a single sitting when one has time to dedicate to play through it. To fully enjoy the narrative, sound is absolutely necessary and headphones are ideal. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I’m currently listening to the soundtrack as I write this and can feel every emotion that is meant to be felt: with swelling in my chest and caressing my ears, the music plays a significant role in this charming game. Please consider checking out Mountain Studios’s Florence on its many available platforms — Florence’s story is worth experiencing.