★★★★☆

Florence is a moving, charming and delightful interactive visual experience that takes around 35 minutes to complete. The opening screen’s simple animation alone is captivating, all while listening to the gorgeous orchestral soundtrack that plays in the background. To call Florence a game, then, doesn’t quite seem accurate.

Created by Mountains, an Australian development team, Florence is a mobile game which is split into several acts that move through phases of Florence’s life, each containing several chapters. The game is presented as a storybook: you swipe and scroll through the pages whilst interacting with specific elements on-screen to further the story along. In the first few minutes, you’ve snoozed an alarm several times, figured out how to brush your teeth and crunched some numbers at work.

This is a story about relationships. We see how different factors in Florence’s life affect her  passion for painting, the changing relationship she has with her overbearing mother, and the beginnings of a relationship with a musician named Krish. Each of these relationships are  equally important, and the writers ensure that the player realises this as they play through the story.

This game is beautiful for a host of reasons, both in terms of the presentation and music, and  the player’s interaction with the story. This isn’t a typical point and click formula: each segment of each chapter has a slightly different mechanic to figuring out how to progress, all using the touchscreen interface on your tablet or smartphone. Some chapters involve tapping away at the screen, while other sections require rubbing away at a picture or dragging and dropping patterns to make a design.

It’s the small things that make Florence flourish. When you begin to interact with the new love interest in Florence’s life, you drag and click small puzzle style pieces of a speech bubble until they all fit together to create  a conversation. The more you get to know this person and progress with the story, the fewer puzzle pieces there are; Florence no longer has to think about what to say, and this mechanic reflects that. Though simple, it’s incredibly effective, and the entire story is filled with impassioned details such as this.

The game’s soundtrack is stunning, matching the narrative remarkably, and the way in which the tone is always perfect for the segment you’re on is just another  way that Florence thrives.

The only complaints with this game is that one would love to see more of it and some of the interactions become slightly repetitive. It can be easily enjoyed in one sitting, and personally, this writer feels like this is the best way to get the full experience of the story.

It is a story about love. Not just in the romantic sense, but in the sense of self-discovery, finding your passions, and connecting and reconnecting with the things and people that are most important to you. Short, sweet, charming and beautiful, “Florence” is a game which will leave you thinking.

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