Interactive graphic novel ‘Florence’ is the perfect heartbreak for $2.99

March 14, 2023, 10:09 p.m.

This review contains spoilers. 

I am a hopeless romantic who searches for romance media to feed my soul. So when I saw clips of the app “Florence” — an interactive, task based game that follows a love story through illustrations and music — floating around on Tik Tok, I did everything a reasonable person would. I went directly to the App Store, paid the $2.99 and began playing despite it being 2 a.m.

The game destroyed me. 

To say I related the story of the game is an understatement. It follows Florence, a 25-year-old who is living a corporate, mundane and routine life. She stumbles upon a cellist named Krish and develops a crush. One day, Florence sees him again while riding her bike. When she crashes and he helps her, she gets his number. From there they begin dating, and it is magical. Florence, in addition to pushing Krish to pursue his passion at music school, rediscovers her childhood passion for visual arts. They move in together, they make memories and it’s all perfect — well, until it isn’t. 

The color of the game quite literally disappears as quickly as it appeared, and several fights lead to a break up. Florence is forced to move on and find herself independently of another person.

My primary critique of the game was the fact that it was not longer. The play time is approximately thirty minutes. While that might be perfect for a busy college student, I wanted more. If the game had taken weeks to a month to finish, it really would have helped with its pacing of a relationship forming and dissipating. However, I understand the point of making it so short — it replicated a book about these two characters and the short part of their lives that they were together.

The art and interactive elements are what made the story so unique and everything worth it. Though $2.99 for thirty minutes may seem like a hefty price for an App Store purchase, the creative endeavors of the game deserve compensation.

The cartoonish style of the characters and world is reminiscent of coming of age graphic novels, such as “Heartstopper” by Alice Oseman, alongside the game segments dubbed as chapters. Despite not being as complex as an RPG simulation-styled game, there is so much beauty in the magical realist aspects of the artwork. My favorite scene is when Florence first hears Krish play the cello, she follows the music and begins literally floating due to the awe and admiration she feels.

Color is a motif in the game, showing how joy paints your life in the wake of new discoveries and love. Krish brings bright color to Florence’s life for the first time since she was a kid; the pretty hues leave when her relationship begins to fade and reappear in more muted colors when she decides to quit her job and pursue art full-time.

As previously mentioned, it’s a task-based game. It begins simply — when Florence is brushing her teeth, you are dragging the tooth brush across the screen. When she is eating, you are tapping on the food for her to finish. These menial tasks feel mundane and boring, depicting a life before the exciting romance.

The tasks become more metaphorical as soon as she meets Krish. One of my favorite parts is when she spots Krish during chapter four: “Crash.” The task is to focus her vision, like a camera. After she gets in an accident, her blurred vision is colorful and swirling, which makes the focusing task harder than the first sequence. In this sense, it perfectly replicates the feeling of noticing someone while you pass them by, alongside rendering the injury from the crash within the tangible actions of a game. 

Furthermore, I also loved the part of the game when the characters had their first conversation during a date. The task for this was to complete Florence’s conversation bubbles with puzzle pieces that fit into an outline. As it gets easier to talk to Krish, the puzzles become easier to complete, leading up to their first kiss. 

This theme returns when the couple begins fighting toward their break up. As they fight more often, the insults become easier to throw and carless toward their partner’s feelings — their conversation bubbles come quick and the puzzles are easy to complete.

Other honorable task mentions include after their breakup, where you have to piece together an image of the couple. This task took the longest for me to complete — even when I found the correct piece and place, the pieces would begin floating away, causing me to juggle searching for the correct piece and trying to ensure the others would stay in the right place.

The game was an emotional rollercoaster in plot and visuals. Seeing Florence and her journey — as she lets go of a period of her life and acknowledges the pitfalls and the unromanticized reality of it — teaches us what we need to know about adulthood. Some people are only there for a certain period of time; while forever is not a promise, being able to grow afterwards is.

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.

Kyla Figueroa ‘24 is the former Vol. 260–262 Managing Editor for The Grind, the 263 Screen DE for Arts & Life, and a staff writer for News. Throw pitches and questions her way — kfigueroa ‘at’

Login or create an account