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A modern fairy tale where relationships expressed through color and sound help us to appreciate the ordinary.

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Have you ever thought about how stagnant your day-to-day life is? Wake up, brush your teeth, head out to work, (coffee is optional), only to come home after an eight-hour shift? Each day a static routine with nothing new to discover or excitement to get your heart racing and feeling alive. Florence captures that essence with subtle color schemes and effects that describe a boring everyday life of one such person.

Florence lives an “okay” life: each morning she wakes up, brushes her teeth, and takes the bus to work. The most exciting part of her day is liking photos on her way to work before settling in for a long day of matching numbers. When she returns home it’s watching TV while eating dinner before heading back to bed. Rinse, repeat as needed before the world drains away to black and white.

Florence is an interactive storybook that conveys its narrative and emotion through light-hearted artwork and sound design. The use of color to convey emotion, like a lack of passion is expressed in black and white, adds an emotional depth that stirred a spark in me to get creative. The dreamy quality of every scene felt like a fairytale and at other times a lethal dose of reality putting the entire world in stark contrast to its own artwork.

Florence’s life lacks a passion that is expressed through the mundane activities and actions in her everyday routine. You accompany her throughout the day by completing mini-games like dragging a toothbrush back and forth to promote oral hygiene or matching numbers on a grid while she’s at work. Her life doesn’t start to gain color until one day her phone dies while she’s listening to music.

Her unimaginative world is pierced by a striking yellow color as music floats down the street to tickle her ears. Intrigued, she follows it until she sees a handsome man who makes her world explode. Keeping him in mind she runs into him a second time and learns his name is Krish.

Krish and Florence are shy at first, but slowly get to know each other over the course of several dates. You help Florence find her words by putting together speech bubbles which are broken up in puzzle pieces. With each date these pieces become fewer in number the longer she talks to Krish and before you know it…they’re in love!

The theme of her life follows this formula as she and Krish fall deeper in love to encouraging each other to follow their dreams. It’s adorable seeing the story between them play out as Florence pushes Krish to pursue new opportunities. They explore the world around them and present the picture of a perfectly happy couple who started out as best friends.

Krish’s dreams encourage Florence to consider her own passions about life; she admits she’s always had a love of painting. He buys her a paint set to help her get started, but along the way Florence sets her passion aside in favor of dedicating her time and effort into their relationship. She focuses on helping Krish achieve his dreams and enjoying his company rather than pursuing her own opportunities.

Their relationship is expressed through the music and artwork of each new chapter as it comes and goes. Mini-games move the story along from choosing which items to put away in Florence’s apartment when Krish moves in or putting together puzzle pieces during an argument to help her gain the upper hand. I never thought a picture tilting back and forth to represent these two arguing could provoke such a sense of violence and unease. No words were ever spoken, but the intensity of the music and the expressions on their faces spoke volumes. This is just one example of the distinguished style this not-so-perfect story expresses.

The lesson I drew away from Florence is that life isn’t always going to be exciting, nor should it be. There are times where things fall into stable routine, yet still lack the passion necessary to keep moving forward. Sometimes the people we bring into our lives won’t stick with us till the end, but they will always be a part of who we are. Sometimes the pain that comes with their departure could be the spark needed to bring the color back into our own lives.

About the Author: Nia Bothwell