Alright, alright. As much as I wanted to review the game from a single perspective, I thought maybe with a game about first loves, it was best to bring in a twist, so I brought in some reinforcements: Richard, my boyfriend.
Florence, as I’ve written before, is a mobile game that tackles the delicateness of first loves. With stunning first impressions from the teasers and trailers, it was tough not to want to play the game even if it came with a price tag. While Richard initially got this game for me to review alone, the game intrigued him, so we figured it would be interesting to write a review together since we played the game at the same time anyways.
I’m the kind of guy that prefers watching Studio Ghibli films that focus on slice-of-life dramas instead of magical monsters. I’m also into playing whatever independent title that’s getting rave reviews on Steam. Florence encompasses both things. The hand-drawn art style is gorgeous and the puzzles are inspiring. Focusing on someone lost in life, living alone, and falling in love sounded like something I could personally relate to with traveling across the world to live alone. This was worth a shot.
The game was undeniably visually charming and the vignettes seemed intriguing at the very least. I’d kept my eye on the game since the teaser came out. It was a pretty novel concept: a mobile game that committed to dabbling into a slice-of-life narrative. With dating simulation game reviews that I’d previously sunk my toes into, I thought an interactive visual novel about love would be a refreshing perspective.
A stunning beginning
Split into several acts, the game introduces you to Florence, a young woman going about mundane tasks of daily adult life. It then explores Florence’s childhood and hints at her somewhat rough relationship with her mother.
As you progress in the game, you inevitably encounter Krish, a cellist who Florence falls in love with. From here on, the game is drop-dead stunning. It digs deep into relatable experiences from awkward first dates, quirky dates that follow, to the honeymoon stage of their relationship.
Witty nuances and subtleties
The game uses the mobile platform incredibly well. Florence has a very unique take as an interactive visual novel especially without the game walking you through how each mini-game is meant to be played. With varying mechanics for mini-games, you would think that it would be a challenge to pull off, but the game design is fascinatingly intuitive.
The game experiments with adjusting focus, piecing together torn paper, and using touch to shake Polaroid photos. The game even incorporates both portrait and landscape orientations depending on the sequence.
Perhaps the most poignant mini-game was conversing with Krish. With no voice-overs and minimal text in the game, talking is done by filling a speech bubble. When Florence first meets Krish, the jigsaw puzzle is composed of about six simple pieces. As the conversation goes on, the pieces become bulkier and the puzzle, less complex. We both thought it was such a witty way of visualizing the sort of growing ease Florence had developed the more she spoke with Krish.
Things that fall through the cracks
As it enters the later acts, the game takes an unexplained turn and falls short with depth. It begins to feel like as much as the design and mechanics were thought through and through, the game drops all effort of reeling you back with context.
By the time the credits finally roll, the final sequence comes off as a rushed finale to an almost perfectly delightful game. Everything turns out fine and she lives happily ever after. It’s acceptable but it admittedly seems to miss an opportunity to excel.
The mini-games are great, but we both wish they impacted the story line. Throughout the game you have phone calls with your mom, but none of your responses have any effect on your relationship by the end of the game. Trying to win arguments offers nothing different from refusing to participate. In one sequence, you share messages with emoji; being the sadist that Richard is, he replied only with sad emoji but didn’t get any real feedback.
Florence sadly disregards cause and effect. The story persists the way the developers have set it with no room to wander and experiment — sadly, making your play-through have no impact in the game at all.
Reading too much into it?
As much as Richard and I agree with how the game fell a bit short despite its remarkable beginning, I think there’s a bit of me that seems to defend the plot of Florence. Facing a different take of visual novels can be difficult and the plot does leave you longing for a better one. It’s short, sweet, and memorable but it leaves you wanting a better resolve, an explanation, and an impact. In hindsight, that’s not too far from what a failed cherished first love makes you feel.
Is this your game match?
The game feels like it had so much potential to be something so much more that it already is. As much as your choices and how you play the game have no impact on the story, Florence is a great introductory game to ease into more in-depth interactive visual novels. The game is visually stunning and the mini-games are clever. With lovely tunes to ease you into every act of the story, this title is worth trying out despite its pitfalls. If you’re willing to give it a go, you can download Florence here.
New Huawei phones are suspended from having Facebook out of the box
Another blow to Huawei, but this is minimal
Here’s more news about the US trade ban against Huawei. The latest American company to take action is Facebook. The popular social networking company is no longer allowing pre-installation of its apps on Huawei phones.
The latest blow to the Chinese tech giant doesn’t necessarily mean users won’t be able to access Facebook. According to a report by Reuters, customers who already bought Huawei phones will still be able to use Facebook apps and receive updates. Although, new Huawei phones will no longer have Facebook pre-installed. Other Facebook-owned apps are also affected including WhatsApp and Instagram.
If you purchased a Huawei phone lately, you might have noticed that your phone came with a few apps pre-installed — aside from the native apps, of course. Usually, smartphone vendors have deals with developers like Facebook to make their app widely available. Aside from Facebook, Huawei phones also come pre-installed with Twitter and Booking.com in many markets.
While Facebook’s move to stay away won’t badly hurt Huawei, it could affect the partnership sales outlook. Again, the Facebook ban only affects Huawei phones that have yet to come out of the factory. Also, Facebook can still be downloaded from the Google Play Store assuming Huawei will not lose access to it soon.
Google: Cutting off Huawei is an even bigger threat
Could lead to less secure apps
For three weeks, Huawei’s biggest concerns were the loss of Android and ARM architecture support. The recent Trump ban created pandemonium for the Chinese company. Since the ban’s announcement, Huawei has struggled with solutions and appeals. Unfortunately, the company’s troubles are not stopping.
In a Financial Times report, Google argues that Trump’s ban will ironically open Huawei to more cybersecurity issues. Likewise, an Android ban will cascade down to the operating system’s supported apps. Users will likely resort to less secure installation methods for their lost apps.
Google further explains that using an Android hybrid (since the platform is open-source by nature) could result in more holes in the system’s security. Huawei’s alternative — either their own custom OS or a forked Android variant — will not offer the same amount of protection.
In related news, Facebook has banned their app’s pre-installs on their future smartphones. Currently, Huawei’s phones come installed with Facebook’s slew of apps — Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp. Arguably, all three apps are essential pieces of a smartphone’s ecosystem. As such, smartphone makers often strike pre-installation deals with app developers, allowing devices to come with these essential apps.
Of course, Huawei users can still install them manually through the Google Play Store. However, this method is also in jeopardy. By August 19, Google is forced to sever support for Huawei, pending a permanent resolution. The ban can feasibly take the Play Store with it. If that happens, Huawei users can no longer install Facebook through the usual means. Users will start resorting to Huawei’s own store or APK installs.
Huawei’s continued dealing with bans rings an ominous death knell for the Chinese company. Without a conclusive resolution, the world’s number-two smartphone manufacturer is facing an uncertain, dangerous future for its phones, inside and out.
Final Fantasy’s music officially comes to Spotify
From every game in the series!
Square Enix has done something we’ve all been wishing for: Uploading a collection of official Final Fantasy soundtracks to Spotify and other music streaming platforms.
News began spreading around the web as Spotify users noticed that there are heaps more FF songs available. It’s also been reported that Apple Music and Amazon Music have them, as well.
The uploaded tracks span all main FF entries plus direct sequels and spin-offs. If you’ve ever been in the mood for a gaming nostalgia trip at home or on the road, this may be the best time.
While there has been FF-related music on Spotify in the past, this is the first time it’s been made official. And yes, it includes songs from Final Fantasy VIII.
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