Usually I avoid doing reviews. Not because I hate them simply because I feel like there are other people who are much better at it than I am and I rather not parrot what they say. But then there are those moments where a game resonates with me so strongly in some way that I just feel like praising it to everyone I meet. Unfortunately just saying “Play this game! It is awesome!” is a very poor way to get people interested in said games. Therefore I find myself trying my hand at something resembling a review. This is one such an occasion.
So, about this game, it is an adventure game about a girl called Fran Bow that was living happily with her family and her best friend, a cat called Mr. Midnight, until one night while she was trying to sleep she saw an horrible creature peeking through her window. The next minute Fran heard her mother screaming and when she went to her parents bedroom she found them brutally murdered. Next thing she knows she is an asylum for kids who suffer from psychiatric problems. During one of her sessions she end up taking a new medication that the doctor hopes to help her. It ends up having quite the opposite effect, making her see a lot of creepy and horrible things that others can’t see. It is at that point that Fran decides to escape the Asylum, find Mr. Midnight and discover who murdered her parents.
With a description like this it makes this game look like an horror game about madness. But to me, at least, it didn’t feel quite that way while playing it. At least not after the first chapter. There is a certain… whimsy to it, a bit of fantastical mixed to it. Specially as the game progresses and you start questioning if Fran is truly mad or if there is something more to it. After thinking about this a bit more, it makes a lot of sense. Even if Fran is suffering from mental illness she is still a child and children have an amazing imagination. A combination of both could lead to some very… unusual imagery.
Another reason that I feel there is a certain whimsy to the game is how Fran just pretty much rolls with whatever comes in her way. Even when she doesn’t fully understand why certain things are the way they are, or there are things that scare her, she just deals with it. Kinda like in Alice in Wonderland: Alice just goes along with the situations she faces, even if she doesn’t fully comprehend them.
I think this may also have helped with the puzzles. While in some adventure games the solution to a puzzle might just make sense in some weird kind of logic, here a bizarre solution can often feel the most obvious one. That isn’t to say there aren’t the occasional head-scratching, hard to figure out puzzle. There were a few of that although some of them were because I didn’t understand how I was supposed to do something (like in a part where you are supposed to mix some chemicals and I didn’t figure out it wasn’t just clicking the bottles to go in the right place, I had to click and drag them). The others were because I was getting confused by something or not paying enough attention. But that happens in every game. :p
Anyway, those were the exception. The majority of the puzzles I was able to get through with a bit of thinking.
Lastly, but not least important, the artwork and music fits the game perfectly. They bring a pretty good sense of horror or whimsy, whichever the story needs at the moment. In fact, the artwork was what caught my attention about the game in the first place, it was what got me interested into it and want to play it. And I am happy I played it. It is a wonderful, fun adventure game, one that I heartily recommend to anyone who got even a little interested into it.
You can buy it in GOG.com or Steam. Steam also has a demo of the game if you want to give it a try before buying it. I never played the demo so no idea how well it works. You can find the official site for the game here.