This article contains heavy spoilers for Florence.
Florence launched today on Switch, just in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s a holiday that I’m personally not fond of. Part of that is because I’m a single guy, and seeing people in loving relationships make me long for something I don’t have. Usually, I wouldn’t admit this on the internet, but I’m a 30-year-old who has never been in a relationship. Physical problems, work, and dealing with my own issues have prohibited me from finding that special someone. But with the Florence Switch release, it got me to reminisce about my first time with the game, how it made me feel, and as a single guy, still being able to feel every emotional beat thrown my way.
A budding romance
At its core, Florence is about finding yourself. You follow the titular character, a 25-year-old woman who works at a job that she hates. She deals with pressure from her mother to be successful and find a boyfriend. In one of the earlier acts, you see her day-to-day routine, boringly working at her desk job, eating alone at home, and living vicariously through her friends on social media. She’s dreamed of being an artist since childhood, but life didn’t let her achieve those goals. Through a bicycle crash, Florence meets Krish Hemrajani, an aspiring musician.
The two eventually start dating and try things like skateboarding, hiking, and introducing Krish to sushi. Their relationship leads Florence to find out that Krish wants to attend a music institute but hasn’t applied. Since he dreams of becoming a musician, Florence pushes him to enter the school.
Too good to be true?
After six months of dating, the two move in, and everything starts swimmingly. You spend time mixing and matching both of their items. Florence and Krish sleep in each other’s arms, cook together, and genuinely make their lives better. Florence‘s monotonous job becomes tolerable, and this is known because you don’t actually have to do her job through gameplay. Everything is done automatically, and Florence doesn’t stop smiling because of her relationship. Krish ends up in the music academy and even gifts Florence with an art set so that she can follow her dream of becoming a world-renowned artist.
Unfortunately, not everything is meant to last. In the chapter “Routine,” Florence and Krish become very comfortable with how life is going, for better or worse. She hates work again, but Krish also finds no joy in the music academy. What he dreamed of isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. They went from a couple who couldn’t keep their hands off of each other to two people who sleep apart on the same bed. Florence’s art set sits on the corner of her desk, with other items taking priority.
Their boiling point is a fight that leads to their eventual breakup. Chapter 15, “Drifting,” is the moment of the game that broke me to my core. There are fractured pieces of Florence and Krish scattered across the screen. You try and put the broken pieces back together, but no matter how many times you try, they never stick. Our two main characters aren’t meant to be together, and there’s no reconciliation in sight. Krish moves out later on, and instead of the cheery and colorful aesthetic shown throughout the game, this moment is gray and gloomy. He packs a box and moves out of Florence’s apartment.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Post-breakup, Florence tries to piece back together the void that Krish left in her life. She sees her life without him, and it takes a while to get over him. One chapter, in particular, “Letting Go,” has the two walking side by side. If you interact with the screen, Florence stays with Krish. By not touching anything, she’s able to walk away from that part of her life and move on. She notices the art set Krish gets her and decides to pick up painting again. This leads Florence to a newfound sense of happiness. Her relationship with her mother blossoms, she starts a successful online shop, and she even has an art show where people admire the paintings she’s done. The relationship between Florence and Krish ends in heartbreak, but a gesture of love that he showed her led to something life-changing.
Life lessons learned through Florence
Oftentimes, people think that video games are a medium that gives people an outlet for violence. Sure, there are very violent video games out there, but that doesn’t mean people will act out what they play. Games like Florence provide completely different experiences. There isn’t any violence, there isn’t any dialogue, and it gives players a meaningful narrative. When I picked up this game last year, the name Annapurna, a well-known movie and gaming production company, made my purchase a no-brainer. I didn’t expect that the next hour of my life would be about self-reflecting. I shed tears for Florence and Krish. I’m a guy without dating experience, but I felt every dramatic beat like a punch to the heart.
I’ve always known that relationships aren’t easy and require hard work, but I’ve never really seen the emotional toll it could take on someone. Watching Florence grieve over Krish and try to find purpose in her life after the breakup hit me hard. I’ve been trying to get myself settled in life before I actively start looking for a relationship. Not being well-cultured in dating and relationships will prove to be difficult, but Florence taught me a bunch of things I didn’t know. The game helped me understand the fundamentals of being with and loving someone. It’s not something to be taken lightly. Relationships are mature commitments that affect not only your life, but also other people’s as well.
I thought about the pictures lined through their apartment. Florence met Krish’s family, and they must’ve had a friendship develop over the nearly two-year relationship. Being with someone isn’t just about the two people involved. When you introduce your significant other to loved ones, you’re opening the doors for them to also have a meaningful friendship. Who knows — I might be single for the rest of my life. You never know what’s in store for your life. I’m of the belief that everything in my life has already been planned out, but I just haven’t made it to the next step yet.
For all I know, there isn’t someone out there for me, but I haven’t figured that out yet. If a relationship is in my future, I’d like to think I’m well prepared for the journey ahead. Florence is a work of fiction, but it’s also a realistic portrayal of a failed relationship. Between the themes of love, following your dreams, and, ultimately, taking care of yourself, Florence spoke to me in a way that most video games have failed to do. Despite clocking in at a little over an hour, Florence is a game that will have a lasting effect on my life. Shout out to development studio Mountains for creating an experience that truly moved me. You’ve taught me so much about life that I never thought a game was capable of doing.