Disturbing. Sometimes a word is just perfect and tells you everything you need to know. Adventure game Fran Bow, a regular feature in the Kickstarter Katchup, is disturbing. Brutally, marvelously and almost overly, harmfully disturbing. It’s about half way done, in money and time, on indiegogo and I’ve just played through the improved alpha demo. Thoughts and trailer once you’ve had your medicine. Fair warning: not for the faint of heart regarding blood ‘n’ guts.
There’s a certain level of gore in Fran Bow that goes above and beyond standard fare. When it goes for shock value it doesn’t pull any punches and it’s an odd counterpoint to the subtle horror that is the child asylum setting. Killmonday walk an absolute tightrope of going overboard on the carnage versus keeping things ‘normal’ for too long. They succeed by way of every scene having two versions to it, which can be switched between on the fly.
It won’t be to everyone’s taste. At times the intensity of the violence goes beyond reason and exists only for its own sake. This is certainly an intriguing path, however. I love this sort of “what is real, what is not” psychedelic horror and want this funded just to see what it goes. The sound design is a masterpiece, just the right combination of jarring tones and soothing background to keep the player on edge. Similarly, the slight caricaturing of the art style sets the stage perfectly for what is being attempted.
The writing in the demo left a little to be desired but the basics of the plot – little girl must find her cat and get home – are strong. The idea of presenting the entire game in the simple language of a ten year old girl is clever too, but the implementation needs work.