Florence is a romance you unravel with your fingertips.
Based on the first love of its titular character, the mobile game takes that most classic of coming-of-age tales and does something special. Using the touchscreen interface, it guides players through all the waxing and waning of Florence Yeoh’s relationship: falling in love, learning about her creativity, understanding where she wants to be. As they navigate the experience—the latest from Ken Wong, the designer of Monument Valley, and his team at Mountains—the game focuses in on the role that touch, tactility itself, plays in memory and growth. Florence is a story about holding things in your hands, and about letting them go.
For instance: On Florence’s first date, she has trouble talking. In the game, rendered in an art style like a sketch comic book, this is represented as a puzzle. Arrange the colored pieces inside Florence’s speech bubble, and she talks, the conversation flowing along. At first these puzzles are more complex, slower, with five or six pieces. Then, four. Then, three, then two and down to one, as Florence and her date grow more in sync, conversation growing faster and more fulfilling.
The touch play here serves two purposes. It keeps the player engaged in the story, yes. But it also centers touch itself, bringing the body, the movement of the player’s fingers and hands, into the experience, connecting touch with the game’s emotional tenor. With your own hands, you make this story happen. You open boxes and help Florence’s boyfriend unpack when he moves in. You brush Florence’s teeth. You share food. With gestures and taps, you interact with the world the way Florence does, with your own two hands.
This is special, in the context of a story like this, because it mimics the emotional trajectory of experiencing a sentimental moment and then recalling it later, placing the player as a sort of storyteller alongside Florence. You remember touching that photograph, eating that food, doing that busywork at Florence’s job. It lives in your fingertips, driven into muscle memory, the same as it is for her.
The rise of the touchscreen has made touching and gesturing frequently feel devoid of context. They’re neutral, a means of getting from one digital point to another. No more interesting than pressing a button, really. But Florence is a reminder of the power of touch as expression itself. Taking something into your hands. Feeling someone’s touch against yours. Picking up that photograph of you and someone you lost and holding it, just for a second, before putting it back down. These moments are special, and they take on a unique resonance for being tactile. Florence draws a substantial amount of power from remembering that.