Florence Review

Florence and the Cellist

Stuck in a dead end job, muddling through from morning to night, Florence is feeling lost and trapped until one day she bumps into the rugged and handsome cellist Krish. Naturally they hit it off and start dating. It’s a classic rom-com set up, a story that we’ve seen told or lived through countless times, but Florence tells this tale in its own magical way.

Played through a series of vignettes that take inspiration from slice of life comics, and broken up into acts and minute-long chapters, Florence is a short, but sweet experience. It’s not afraid of the familiarity of the story it’s telling, but rather embraces that, taking on an often subdued and naturalistic tone.

– ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW –

One of the most ingenious elements in the game’s storytelling comes in the conversations. Though the story is told almost entirely without words, you still experience the dialogue between Florence and Krish, as they discover one another and settle into a relationship. There’s no words, but rather simple shape puzzles that you use to construct speech bubbles. They actually get easier over time, effortlessly conveying that initial nervousness that Florence feels, how she grows more comfortable, able to open up and enjoy Krish’s company.

But there’s another side to it as well. Arguments can also come easily, the shapes that you draw together growing more angular, more pointed, indicative of the verbal barbs that Florence and Krish throw at each other. It’s such a simple idea, and yet it’s a big part of what makes Florence so evocative.

You have similar touches sprinkled throughout, bringing back little interactive moments to echo scenes from before and shifting them to mean something else. Florence’s everyday starts off as monotony of being woken up by her alarm clock, snoozing it twice, brushing teeth, commuting to work while mindlessly reposting or liking photos on social media, settling down for some dull as dishwater spreadsheet nonsense at work, heading home and going to bed.

Compare that to life after meeting Krish, and social media has been replaced with sending cute emojis back and forth, while those spreadsheets simply complete themselves, there’s more colour and vibrancy to the world that wasn’t there before. It checks off many of those relationships tropes along the way, the hurried flat cleaning, the first argument, the reconciliation. Sometimes it’s just showing you their story, other times there’s these interactions that bring your into those events in small but meaningful ways.

Alongside the story is a wonderful original soundtrack by Kevin Penkin, combining the rich, deep tones of Krish’s cello with violin, flute, clarinet and piano. It emphasises the highs, underscores the lows, and helps the emotions that the story is trying to convey come through to the player.

Played on Nintendo Switch or PC, the game is now presented in widescreen compared to the original vertical view on mobile. You can use either the touch screen or switch to playing with Joy-Con and guiding cursors around the screen – you also have mouse support on PC. Either way works fine, but touch certainly feels a bit more natural in most cases.

– PAGE CONTINUES BELOW –
Summary
Through the highs and lows of a newfound love, Florence is a wonderfully told and emotive story that engages you in such simple, but effective ways.
Good
  • Familiar story of new love told beautifully
  • Simple interactions evoke the narrative
  • Gorgeous soundtrack
Bad
  • It's very short
  • Crying
9
Written by
I'm probably wearing toe shoes, and there's nothing you can do to stop me!