Fran Bow is a horror adventure game set in the year 1914. If you are the type that loves indie point-and-clicks gameplay, then this is the absolute game for you. The game is all about a ten-year-old girl named Fran, who suffers from a mental illness of schizophrenia after witnessing the gruesome scene of her parents death. She ran into the forest with her cat and passed out there and was later found alone in the woods and was admitted into Oswald Asylum which leads to a separation between her black cat named Mr Midnight, who was her only friend. Under the care of a psychiatrist, Fran is given pills which cause vivid hallucinations of another reality, which transforms the Asylum into a gory site with strange messages, dreadful torture, human subjected to research in psychology and neurology. Fran decided to escape from the institution to find her cat and return home to her aunt.
In this gameplay, I get to be the protagonist who is Fran Bow herself and get to narrate the story in her perspective as a child. The game guides me through several bizarre approximations of the mental state of a person. The story is relatively simple with a complex visual aesthetic which takes me on a journey that can veer from somewhat gory or quirky to ordinary tone but still remains interesting. The one particular element that defines Fran Bow as horror is the pill bottle at the bottom corner of the screen. If I click it, I find myself in an alternate world of the grisly and the macabre. Although the room stays the same, the contents are altered by obscene blood and violence.
In Fran Bow, the puzzles are as difficult as any adventure game I have ever played. The puzzles are not hard by any means, but they added enough game-play to keep me going.
Many of these puzzles require the kind of old school experimentation you don’t get to see in a lot of modern-day games. I had to build a collection of a whole lot of items that seem unimportant and keep them for long times before being able to combine them with other things and use them to solve some puzzle. Although I struggled seriously in some areas, like when I needed a blue rose and I couldn't find one anywhere. It was after a few trial and error that I figured out that all I had to do was to put the seed in the patch of light to grow a blue rose. It made me understand that I had to always approach the game with the logic which was created for it exactly, which is that of the horrifying, twisted, yet fantastic universe. The fun in the game comes from testing and retesting theories about some of the puzzles’ several components, all the while enjoying the pictorial aspects of the art design.
Compared to games of similar plot
Unlike some who think of Pilot Brothers or Sally Face is more similar to Fran Brow, I really think Fran Bow feels more like Alice: Madness Returns. It even has easter eggs connected to it. The plot, mini-games, gore style, and the likes are so much alike. Fran Bow is more popular with young teenagers while Sally Face is so much more adult-like and more serious. The main connection between Fran Bow and Sally Face is that both games are point and click with a bit grotesque style of art.
The game is divided into the 6 chapters:
- My sober day
- Part I: Curiosity Symptoms
- Part II: Double personality
- Vegetative state
- Part I: My imaginary friend
- Part II: Doctor's prescription
- The house of madness
- Return of Remor
- The design is fairly polished and the graphics are well done.
- Lengthier puzzles are solved in stages with helpful hints and reminders.
- Unique art style, beautiful quality and 'cartoonish'.
- While the right mouse button is left untouched.
- The ending feels a tad rushed.
I enjoyed my time playing the game because it is one of the more creative games I have played in a while, even if it doesn’t quite come together as cohesive as well as it could have. I especially love the puzzles and the landscape, including the switch between worlds. If you're one that likes adventurous games involving seeking various objects in a game in order to combine and use them to solve puzzles, then Fran Bow is for you.
Download Fran Bow
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP