It's that time of the year, folks. Some love it, some hate it, and others just wait for the candy to go on sale the day after. That's right, I'm talking about Valentine's Day. Say what you will about the corporate marketing machine, but Valentine's Day had me wondering what games I could russle up in the Play Store about love. Well, let me tell you, it is SLIM pickings out there.
Between generic dating sims the likes of which make for the worst mobile game ads and ones that mimic real life dating apps too accurately, it's tough to find games that actually tackle love and relationships in a meaningful way. So let's all thank the heavens for Florence, the only Android game about love that's worth playing. This one gets an instant spot on ye olde list of best Android games.
Designed by Ken Wong of Monument Valley fame and published by Annapurna Interactive (the same folks behind Donut County), Florence follows the life and growth of 25-year-old Florence Yeoh, a young woman who seems to be lost in life. She loved art as a kid, but the rigors of school and familial expectations discouraged her from pursuing her dreams. Now she's 25, crunching numbers in a lifeless office job, and seems to have no friends, let alone a significant other.
But her colorless world is forever changed when a chance meeting with cellist Krish crashes through the monotony of her life. From there, Florence tells the touching story of these two young lovers' relationship, from the highs to the lows and the daily routine in between. What makes this narrative experience so unique is how it tells its story with zero spoken or written dialogue.
In lieu of dialogue, Florence plays out over 20 chapters through a series of mini-games. Many of these do some fun, creative stuff with the mobile medium and help add a tactile layer to make the story feel more personal. For example, you might play out a silent conversation between Florence and Krish using jigsaw puzzle dialogue boxes.
As you fill them in, they become less and less complex, symbolizing the growing ease and comfort that the couple feels with each other. There are no tutorials here, because they're unnecessary. Florence is designed in such a way that you always understand what is being asked of you without needing any explanation. Watching the relationship play out between Florence and Krish, how they push each other to pursue their dreams and grow as people alongside each other, is a rewarding and sincere journey.
I won't spoil the ending, of course, but I can say that Florence is one of the most artistically and acoustically pleasing games you can find on Android. The beautiful hand-drawn graphics are backed up by one of the best soundtracks I've heard in years. Composed by Kevin Penkin and performed by Villanova Music, the piano, cello, flute, violin, and clarinet tracks seemlessly flow into each other as the story progresses, infusing each scene with hefty emotional weight.
Perhaps the only thing that might turn some players off to Florence would be the runtime. Florence is a very short experience, clocking in at just under an hour from start to finish. I played and finished it in one sitting and was left feeling satisfied. I would even argue that the short playtime works to Florence's advantage, since there's no useless filler to pad out the time. Each scene means something, each scene accomplishes a goal, and then you move on to the next one. It's a concise, well-crafted story that would lose emotional impact if it were artifically drawn out any longer.
The TL;DR is this: Florence is a masterpiece of narrative art and storytelling that uses the mobile platform to maximize its emotional impact. Florence knows exactly what it's doing and it executes its story and concept with staggering success. It is well worth the "premium" pricetag of $2.99, even for such a short experience. This is arguably one of the best Android games you could possibly play that tells a sincere love story.
Love, TRUE love
A beautiful, sincere story of love and life
Florence is an emotionally charged story about Florence Yeoh, her life, and her love with a cellist, Krish.
A lifelong gamer, Mogan has had a controller in hand since the PlayStation 1 ruled the world and Neopets seemed eternal. She loves to play new and old games alike, especially if it's something weird and charming. Puzzlers, JRPGs, adventure, and rhythm games are her favorites.