Pills Here: Fran Bow

By Ben Barrett on August 3rd, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

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.

I’d be really interested to hear what some of you think of the game as a whole, so have a play and get back to me below or leave some direct feedback for the developers on Greenlight.

 

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30 Comments »

  1. godofdefeat says:

    The gameplay looks quite disturbing, but interesting.
    /adds on “What i´ll be buying in the future” list.

  2. Dimonte says:

    To me, it looks like it’s trying way too hard to be edgy and rebellious and emo-y. The art is bland, the story is pretty much cookie-cutter stuff, it all hinges on ultraviolence and superficial anti-mainstream sentiments to attract attention. Not for everyone, sure, and certainly not for me.

    • CutieKnucklePie says:

      Same here. It seems to me using a little girl as the hallmark of “creeeeeeepy” is so done it’s not funny, too.

    • bladderbloat says:

      Thanks for being honest! :)

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      Yeah, it looks…kinda interesting but there used to be a point where you could go ‘Say what you can about indie games, they’ve at least had the decency to avoid going to the creepy little girl well’ but here we are, watching them make like the people off The Ring.

    • GameCat says:

      It would be more creepy if it was way, way more subtle.
      I’ve always thought that Exorcist (and any other horror with creepy little girls) would be more scary without that Growly Demon Voices and Disturbing Face Makeup, only with normal girl talking scary things with her normal voice.

    • ukpanik says:

      “superficial anti-mainstream sentiments to attract attention”

      Hehehe, what a wanker.

  3. Megakoresh says:

    Their trailer on their indiegogo is really disturbing because the woman doesn’t speak english natively and sounds like a 10YO girl as well… I was half expecting her to go mental in the video and start cutting bits off the programmer.
    This looks like Binding of Isaac. Sort of. Only a puzzle. I am not a fan of this type of games, but the idea of presenting a game world interactively through a mind of someone mentally unstable in a disturbing way can be very cool indeed. So far only Alice: Madness Returns has done it well in my opinion. It’s a very tricky thing to do for a normal person, obviously.

    Madness Returns was so creepy at the end I kinda didn’t even want to proceed to be honest, but that’s just indicative of the dev’s skill: they [perfectly executed what they wanted. Like Spec Ops: The Line wasn’t fun to play either, but it’s still a game every serious gamer HAS to play in my opinion.

    • Branthog says:

      I’m pretty sure all of the creepiness in the video was intentional. The creepy girl alone was almost enough to make me back the game, even though I don’t know that it’s really my style (but that hasn’t stopped me from the other 500-600 projects I’ve backed, so what the hell!). :)

    • The Random One says:

      The programmer wears a pig mask and never shows his face and you find that the woman not speaking English very well is more terrifying?

  4. JackShandy says:

    I hope this will satisfy my craving for girl-with-a-knife games. My last fix was Yume Nikki. So many years ago now…

    Can anyone confirm an equippable knife?

    • bladderbloat says:

      Watch the pitch video, theres a quick hint at something of your desires

    • adam.jutzi says:

      There’s always this.

      Not sure if it ever became anything more.

      • JackShandy says:

        Seems like it’s shut down, I can’t get in – just loads forever on the title screen.

        I should have tried it when it was posted, instead of making a dumb pun and leaving. How can I even call myself a knife-girl fetishist?

        But, maybe it’s better this way. Mysterious.

  5. Lex says:

    And here I was … asking myself “would an adventure about Fraw Bow really be fun?”

  6. misterT0AST says:

    Can’t wait for the sequel, Fran Bow: First Blood part II

  7. belgand says:

    I feel like you guys must be getting a bit overly-sensitive as there’s nothing here that’s particularly disturbing. As others have said it’s far more cliche and mundane. Oh, there’s a bit of blood on everything? Someone is now a skeleton and there’s a side of beef in the corner? Not really doing it. That’s what I would expect.

    While this plays it too safe it’s also a fine line getting something that goes far enough, but without crossing the line into being over-the-top so much that it either comes off as desperate or ridiculous.

    The “take pills to see the game world from an alternate view” has also already been done a bit. Off the top of my head Lone Survivor comes to mind.

  8. Michael Fogg says:

    That new guy should get a stern talking-to for that header image.

  9. WrenBoy says:

    Apart from anything else, either the game is broken or my point and click adventure skills are.

    You dont know what to draw right now? How about a fucking picture of a fucking horse and a fucking castle to give to the fucking king who likes fucking drawings so you can get his fucking walking stick!

    And rage quit.

    • His Divine Shadow says:

      you have to click on the rocking horse on the leftmost screen of the first area i think, then you can draw a picture. struck me as a bit random, too, especially after they claimed that all puzzles were “incredibly logical”. but i assume this being just a pre-alpha pitch demo excuses it, to an extent.

    • bladderbloat says:

      Sweet! That’s an obvious bug in the alpha demo, thanks for finding it! Fixing! <3

      • WrenBoy says:

        Apart from my momentary annoyance it was a cute game, if that is an acceptable adjective. I especially liked the idea of the “ghosts” whispering instructions to the other inmates.

        If its any help, I tried to draw something on the paper as soon as I got it. Clicked on the horse for the first time when on drugs and saw the message on the toilet window before I spoke to the “King”.

        • bladderbloat says:

          Yeah thats a bug! :@ As soon as you see the message, both you and fran should know what to draw :( With the new update the “crazy” world follows you from room to room and it messed up the “what to draw” variable :( Damn those variables! Thanks for the help :D

  10. The Random One says:

    I tried the alpha. Very interesting, but marred by adventure game logic (despite the dev’s attempts not to have any) and it stopped working when I had to set the clock and password. Too bad, I found it promising.

    • bladderbloat says:

      By stopped working do you mean it crashed or got stuck somehow? These things are invaluable for us to know :(

  11. frightlever says:

    I don’t have a problem with grisly violence if it’s restricted to that cartoon style. Now The Cat Lady was pretty disturbing.

  12. Zaranell says:

    I’m generally not a fan of Point ‘N Clicks, but I rather enjoyed that alpha demo. My only problem was that the art of that one nurse didn’t make it obvious you should be paying attention to the sewing needles she had, so I got stuck on that puzzle. Other than that, I liked it more than I would have expected. Went ahead and threw $10 at the campaign.