Annapurna Interactive, the video game division of Megan Ellison’s production company, has returned with another charming mobile game, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Florence, a mobile narrative experience from Australian game developers Mountains, puts players in the shoes of Florence Yeoh, a 25-year-old Asian-Australian who has just met her first love.
The game was designed by Ken Wong, who is best known for his work on 2014 indie mobile puzzle game Monument Valley, and features beautiful art design and expressive music that lends the gameplay a cinematic feel akin to romantic comedies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and (500) Days of Summer.
Unlike Monument Valley, Florence is not a puzzle game. It’s also not a traditional game, mobile or otherwise. In Florence, gamers interact with their touch screens to perform such mundane tasks as silencing an alarm clock, brushing their teeth and talking to their mother on long phone calls. What stands out, other than Wong’s gorgeous design, is the unique way in which these seemingly banal tasks are implemented for a mobile gaming interface. As the game progresses, Florence — and, by extension, the player — are lifted from the rote daily tasks of a young urban professional to something more transcendental, helped in large part by the introduction of a mysterious young cello player named Krish.
As Florence and Krish’s relationship grows, so, too, does the gameplay. The routine that greets you at the beginning of each chapter (sporting such titles as Music, Crash, Groceries and Moving Out) begins to morph to reflect Florence’s newfound love. In one sequence, the player chases musical notes that drift through the air, tapping them as the strain of romantic cello strings guide Florence along the sidewalk. In Crash, the player must adjust dual dials to make a clear picture after a run-in with a veering car while on a speeding bicycle. Even the act of brushing your teeth evolves once you have a partner to do it beside.
The true charm of the game, however, comes from the relationship at its core and the fun ways in which Wong and his team convey the awkward “getting to know you” part of any fresh romance. Through speech bubbles with no actual dialogue, players build a conversation that slowly becomes easier and easier as the date progresses. It’s an eloquent expression of how newfound conformability gives way to fluidity and attachment, and to see it so cleverly implemented in a video game (particularly a mobile title) is a joy.
Florence will be available for iOS on the App Store on Wednesday for $2.99.