Florence for iPhone, from Monument Valley designer Ken Wong, is an interactive storybook game about a 25-year-old office drone named Florence Yeoh finding first love with cellist Krish Hemrajani. The iOS-only game costs $2.99 on the App Store.
Great storyline: The story of a lonely woman, hungering for romance and meeting her dream guy when she least expects it is not novel. It's practically the subject of every YA story or Hallmark Original Movie. But Florence tells this timeless tale in a way that feels more modern and feminist, foregoing certain stale fairytale conceits. Also, pay attention to the interesting ways that the story makes use of parallelism in the plotline.
Romantic: Forget the "Fifty Shades" series. Florence exemplifies true romance, from Florence and Krish's electrifying first date to their more comfortable, intimate moments cuddling in bed. Just watching the way that both Florence and Krish support each other's individual dreams and passions is inspiring. This is the relationship to aspire toward.
Beautifully designed: Anyone who appreciates the artwork in Monument Valley will love the charming graphics that Ken Wong has designed for Florence.
Fun gameplay: Reading through a story on your phone by clicking arrows or scrolling gets stale after a while. Fortunately, Florence has you progressing through the tale in more interesting ways that keep you constantly immersed and engaged.
You play the story as Florence, turning off her alarm by tapping, brushing her teeth by swiping at a toothbrush and choosing dialog for a conversation with her mom. As the story progresses, the gameplay gets more interesting as you're prompted to answer math problems to help a young Florence with her homework in a flashback, turn a clock dial to watch her age, move sliders to bring characters into focus, pinch items to pick them up, complete puzzles to create dialog, and rub obscured pictures to reveal them.
Sights and sounds: Headphones are recommended to enjoy the mellifluous classical music that accompanies the story. The Paper Effect feature enables you to hear the familiar sound of pages flipping as you read. If the sound annoys you, you can turn it off under Settings.
New games: If you want to re-experience the interactive storybook from scratch, you can after each read.
No going backward: If you space out as you make your way through the story and then find yourself confused because you missed something pivotal, there's no way to go back and figure it out.
Occasionally challenging gameplay: There are moments when it's difficult to discern which tactic to take -- swiping, scrolling, pinching, etc. -- to progress through a page, so expect some trial and error.
Also, when you're trying unsuccessfully to pass a page by aligning two or three sliders to focus a blurry image, you'll mourn the fact that you lack the precision of a safecracker, who opens a dial combination safe as quickly and easily as you tear into a bag of chips.
Florence for iPhone is one of the best interactive storybooks we've ever come across. With its immersive romantic story, delightful graphics, and inventive gameplay, you'll want to replay it over and over again.