My favorite things of 2018 - Day #19

Games have so many stories to tell, they don't all have to be about alien invasions, secret missions, war, or far space exploration. Sometimes the most engaging and interesting stories are the closest to home.

Humans have been telling love stories since the dawn of storytelling, games need to do it more.

Florence, by developers Mountains, is a wonderful interactive vignette about love and life that is sweet, engaging, and wonderfully realized.

The game is a brilliant lesson in design flow, and how minimal, but perfectly placed, interactions can still draw the user into an experience. This is something that as a designer I recognize is often incredibly difficult to achieve, yet here they make it look easy.
There are so many subtle storytelling moments that are sold with a simple click or swipe, that this is one that is easy to recommend as a lesson in design alone.
That however, would be doing a disservice to the overall experience.

In many ways, there will be the old arguments that this isn't a game, as the interactions don't change anything, there is no agency on the player's behalf. That would also be doing it a disservice, and missing the point.

This is much an experience about empathy as it is anything else. You are experiencing Florence's life as she does.

The story here is everything, and is so well told and relatable, that each of those interactions serves to put you inside the everyday, that you can help but feel as if you are part of this journey. The cynics among you might fear a heartfelt tale, but honestly the developers have done a good job of keeping things grounded, real almost, and largely avoid any saccharine aftertaste. 

It isn't a long experience, you'll play through in just over half an hour most likely, but it's such a well designed, and emotionally invested half hour, that it will stay with you long after you're done.