|Pardon the dust!
This page includes some jargon that hasn't been added to the site's glossary yet. I'll be around to fix this later, but sorry for the inconvenience in the meantime.
Review: Fran Bow
At a Glance
|ESRB Rating:||T - Teenagers|
|My Rating:||Ages 13 and up|
|Genre:||Point and Click Adventure|
|Review Published On:||June 6th, 2016|
Fran Bow uses an autosave feature, saving your progress at the beginning of a chapter or after the story progresses. Alternatively, since time does not pass until you click on something, you can leave the computer for a minute or two at anytime.
Fran's world is a blend of multiple, layered realities, and for most of the game she switches between them by taking some pills she found. On her journey, she encounters things that are frightening, demonic in appearance, or quite gory.
Unlike a lot of horror games these days, this is a point and click adventure game. This means that the player is removed the actions, and only has limited control over what the main character does. That said, Fran has quite a unique perspective on the world around her, which ensures that everything remains strange and weird even during the most normal situations.
One of the key mechanics of this game is the affects Fran's medications have on her perception of reality. Although they were prescribed by a psychiatrist, she experiences some very strange side effects from them. When the pills take effect, her surroundings shift into a grossly distorted reflection of reality. This alternate world frequently features an abundance of blood and gore, but the more unsettling feature is the presence of shadowy otherworldly creatures.
As Fran progresses through her journey, the lines between everyday reality and surreal illusion breakdown. By the time her adventure is over, she'll have traveled through a forest, flown on a skeleton's flying machine, visited a world of vegetable people, and even visited a doctor's office for monsters. This description hardly does the story justice though, as there's just so much to see as you travel through this dark and twisted wonderland.
Fans of horror games will love this one; just be ready for the graphic nature of the visions Fran experiences. There's a lot more blood and gore than you would expect, though there is actually a point behind it -- you'll just need to have finished the story to see where everything was leading.
Points of Interest
Concerns and Issues
Gore on the other hand, isn't as common as blood, but it's not rare either. Most of the gore is shown near the beginning of the game, as it manifests itself in the altered version of the asylum in various dramatic ways.
Unlike a lot of games that are notorious for their enthusiastic and nearly gleeful approach to graphic content, the blood or gore Fran encounters is never considered to be a good thing.
There are two examples that come to mind regarding her reaction to hurting others. At one point, Fran believes that a creature called a beetlepig has eaten Mr. Midnight. In order to save her pet, she needs to kill the beetlepig and cut it open. This seems straightforward, but the beetlepig is cute and even appears friendly. Fran is not very comfortable about killing it, but it has to be done and she does so reluctantly. Later on, she encounters a skull that's holding a key in its mouth. When she's unable to reason with it, she doesn't have any reservations about tearing its teeth out with a pair of pliers. Ouch!
Making things a bit worse is that the staff come off as ill tempered and in some cases, openly hostile towards their charges. The security guard is especially noteworthy here, as he's disliked by the rest of the staff and has some disturbing dialogue with Fran that has led many players to seriously question if he's intended to be a pedophile.
On the other side of the coin, there's another patient in the asylum that uses "magic pills" to help her sleep. If you play your cards right, Fran can use one of these "magic pills" to drug the security guard, allowing her to escape.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is one of the other realities, which is populated by kindly vegetable people. They use magic too, but their magics are treated as wholesome and pure; a stark contrast to the ritual used earlier on.
Mabuka is basically a "goddess" of sorts, and is the embodiment of all of the world's suffering and fear. Her primary motif is a white mask that bleeds from its eyes. This is also why various characters shed bloody tears: it's a sign that someone is under her direct influence.
The Kamalas are sinister looking shadows that feed on (and cause) misery and misfortune. Unsurprisingly, the mental asylum is crowded with them; there's one hovering over almost every patient. The one exception is Fran, and this may be because Mabuka's son Remor is actively haunting her. Like the Kamalas, Remor feeds on Fran's suffering and despair.
On an interesting note, Kamalas can be exorcised, and they eventually become creatures called Valokas. Valokas appear to be good angelic spirits that spread comfort and light, which is a huge contrast to their previous existence.
Another frightening character Fran meets is a well dressed skeleton named Itward. Although he appears menacing and is blamed for some of the bad things that have happened to some of the evil characters, he's actually a pretty nice guy and a good friend. Notably, he has been known to comfort little children by telling them stories when they were scared at night.