Games and UX: Florence

Back in early April, I played  Florencefrom Mountains and published by Annapurna Interactive for the Nintendo Switch. This was in an attempt to combat a large backlog but also some of the time that I had from Quarantine. I was able to complete it in a couple of days, which helps when you have a backlog. What drew me to it was:

  • The praise people gave it on it’s storytelling/narrative and
  • It’s pretty short.
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“Florence” follows the story of Florence Yeoh, a financial analyst who’s pining for a change of pace in her life. We follow her through boredom, love and what comes with it. What I enjoyed the most about Florence was the story and the game mechanics in the game’s 20 chapters. In the initial chapters, you’re introduced to the game mechanics and those mechanics reappear later in the game.

The process of showing a player or user a mechanic first, and then building upon it, is called Progressive Disclosure. Essentially, you’re shown something initially and over time, it opens up more of the mechanics instead of throwing the player directly into a game’s craziness without any prior experience or exposure. Progressive Disclosure helps with preventing information overload or scaring off players due to intense game mechanics. A great example of this are Super Mario games. Mario begins with a basic jump but as the level progresses, so does the level’s difficulty and his jump mechanic is used in new ways.

Another game mechanic I enjoyed were the conversation bubble puzzles. The game itself doesn’t have any voice acting, only music, which plays an important role in the story. When you first start off talking to your date, the pieces are small and scattered. I take this as Florence not knowing what to say on her date. One think you notice is the shaping of the puzzle pieces. They are pretty typical looking puzzle pieces.

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Now, let’s jump forward a bit in the game and revisit the conversation puzzle piece mechanic that we were introduced to in the beginning of the game. Can you seen the difference between the before and after?

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The top image relies on not only the color of the background and the characters clothes, which are much brighter which indicates a happier state, but the shape and the color of the puzzle shapes are different. Both images show examples of Contour Bias, which states that shapes that are round/curvy come off as innocent and honest, while shapes with sharp angles are considered more threatening. Not to mention, the bottom image’s color puzzle pieces are all red which is associated with anger, along with the characters appearance/stance, and the background is a dreary gray. But don’t let that deter you.

Mountains put a lot of work into this game and it shows. Again, the game has a great story, great use of color, music and game mechanics. If you haven’t played it, give it a try on one of the many platforms it’s available on. It’ll leave its mark on you. You can find “Florence” here.

Have you played Florence? If so, what’s something that caught your attention that I didn’t mention?

Please share! Keep gaming and keep an eye on those little details.

-A