A game like this shows the potential of a crowd funding project. A crafty macabre indie title that has generated quite a lot of acclaim from steam reviewers and critics alike. And i actually feel physical romantic love for this game.
The art style alone is already a winner in my book, a style that strikes me as very Salvador Dali in places, a surrealist nightmare where the only way to stay in reality is to to take your pills. Or is it?
The pill mechanic is a very interesting one as it flips the idea that these symbols of modern medicine are actually made to help us. Granted aspirins and paracetamol are effective for the mild pains. However pills associated with mental illness are often a lot stronger and have more of a darker cogitation attached. I know that when I was offered them by my doctor, a medical professional who i should trust completely, i refused as i was scared that they would change either my personality or my perception of the world. It is this idea the Fran Bow revels in.
The narrative is helped along by some very entertaining characters who instill a sort of dreadful love that twists and warps your predefined sense of certain emotions. The star of the show however has to be Fran Bows cat, Mr. Midnight, a charming and adorable character that gave a stark contrast to the horrors that are surrounding this little 10 year old girl. One thing that does hit home about this is that they never try to deviate from the fact that Fran Bow is actually a 10 year old girl. There’s a scene early on where in order to get to an objective an authoritative figure asks Fran Bow for a kiss, baring in mind that she is a potentially mentally unstable 10 year old this repulsed me more than most of the gore in the game, it was a more subtly abusive darker side of evil, its the evil of what is inside rather than an objective physical outer evil.
There are many comparisons between this and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, even going as far as a very on the nose Easter egg in the final chapter. Alice has already been associated with mental illness especially in the game American Mcgees: Alice and in its sequel Alice: Madness returns. However unlike those rather simple and liner games Fran Bow throws you through multiple worlds that may or may not be real and characters that might be imaginary and yet still have charm and character, it’s not since Undertale that I’ve been so attached to a skeleton.
The overall lovecraftian atmosphere, the characters and the several twists and turns that the plot takes makes this a very interesting game, the replay factor is questionable however the ending is so open to debate and interpretation that multiple play-through’s may be required to fully construct a valid idea of just what the fuck is happening.
Basically I fucking love this game.