Making Headway: FranknJohn

The number of possible title puns was overwhelming. Even this image's name is a pun. You're a pun. Am I a pun? The world is mysterious.

Hark, it’s a blast from the past. Upon reading Binding of Isaac-inspired roguelike FranknJohn‘s Kickstarter page I was worried the RPS quote present indicated we’d already written about the excellent looking dungeon splatterer. In a surprising turn for the best of both worlds we had, but it was many moons ago when Alec made appreciative noises after an encounter at Rezzed 2013. Since then devs bitSmith Games have released their previously mobile-only title, Ku: Shroud of the Morrigan, onto PC and have been hard at work improving FranknJohn. Promising hundreds of customisable heads for their terrifying monster protagonist, who detaches his for use as a weapon, they’ve set themselves a hefty task and are after £30,000 to finish the job. Pitch vid below if your neck stretches far enough.

Now that’s how you do a Kickstarter video – light humour, explains the game, asks for money, out in less than five minutes. For those after a bit more there’s a few videos over on their Vimeo channel (Vimeo still exists, I’m as surprised as you are) and you can grab a demo if you pitch in. Slightly odd decision that, given anyone can put in a minimal amount and then cancel their pledge if they don’t like it, having the demo freely available to entice folks into putting cash down is generally where you want to be.

The devs have been quite good about community interaction in the past, with votes on what rewards should be in the Kickstarter. There’s even been some livestreaming of development on Twitch, which apparently goes down every Friday.

There’s a properly huge amount of information chilling out on the Kickstarter page and, while it’s early days, I’d put them on a good shot to make their target and then some. While roguelikes have gone from rare spawn to common encounter in recent years, Binding of Isaac remains the only one that scratches a certain itch. FnJ seems to be after that same spot, both in terms of how it plays and the cartoonish gore of its asthetic, which I can only appreciate. Perhaps there’s others I’ve missed? Let me know below [Our Darker Purpose for one – Ed].


  1. Darth Gangrel says:

    With that many heads available I wonder how their heads up display will look like. Although, it’s a no-brainer that it won’t just be bolted on as an afterthought.

    • SuddenSight says:

      You show people some swappable bobble heads, and suddenly every Tom, Dick, Harry, Frank ‘n John think their noggins are too good for it.

      In my day you brought your HUDs to life by screwing everything on right yourself, with some spit and polish and a bolt of lightening.

      Sheesh, kids these days waiting for some crazy game designer to come light up their cranium without doing any work themselves.

  2. owenllharris says:

    Thats an interesting idea about just giving the demo away.
    We might just do that :D

  3. KDR_11k says:

    Honestly, most of the “roguelikelikes” are inspired by Binding of Isaac (following the convention of one use item at a time, a pile of passives and potentially bombs) so that’s hardly even worth mentioning. Just throw it on the pile, I guess.

    • Durrok says:

      2D, room based, action rogulike games? Not really. There are a few (EX: Our Darker Purpose) that really do rip it right off but even that game has a very different feel than Isaac does.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Rogue: Legacy and other randomized metroidvanias seem to be a fairly robust subgenre.

      • Philotic Symmetrist says:

        Risk of Rain and Ascendant are probably better examples; Rogue Legacy doesn’t have permadeath so it’s not a PDL (or PPL which is my slightly more pedantic version) and is probably neither a roguelike-like nor a roguelite either.

  4. InternetBatman says:

    After last weeks fairly dismal showing of new kickstarters, it was refreshing to see a quality pitch.

    • G-Lord says:

      It sure is a polished pitch, but it makes me wonder what happened to their Gambitious campaign that suddenly disappeared…

      • owenllharris says:

        Hey there.
        We think what Gambitious is super interesting and we would have loved to have launched with them. For reasons out of both parties control the timing didn’t work out so we decided to go a different way.

        • G-Lord says:

          Thank you for clearing that up and the best of luck for your campaign.