Lovely little girls in gloomy psychedelic settings have been quite popular ever since Lewis Carroll sent Alice on a journey through Wonderland, or maybe even earlier. Fran Bow uses this trick and rather successfully. It’s year 1944. A ten-year-old girl ends up in a psychiatric hospital after her parents die in tragic circumstances. The clinic conducts experiments on children. In addition, it’s the height of the popularity of lobotomy, so the prospect of staying in the hospital is not bright at all. The girl decides to escape to her aunt, but before that she still needs to find her cat. The player’s task is to accompany Fran on this journey, which will be even more difficult than it might seem.
The gameplay is rather simple: you go around, explore locations, look at active points, pick up objects, solve puzzles to move on. Many objects should be clicked several times – most often Fran’s comment is divided into three parts. There are actions that can be performed in different ways, there are different replicas in dialogues, but in general the plot is linear and simple. In some locations, the drugs Fran found in the clinic play an important role: after she takes a capsule, the reality changes, new objects for interaction are opened, which are necessary for passing the level. There are are mini-games, such as, for example, tic-tac-toe and frogger, they bring in a little variety.
Both mini-games and the tasks themselves in the game are quite easy, you won’t have to rake your brain over them, all attention is focused on the plot itself. And here it is already possible to get confused in how Fran’s realities intertwine with each other, to tell the fruit of an inflamed imagination from what really happens. While you pass the game, it will stun you with peculiar and gloomy, but at the same time quite nice two-dimensional graphics. The musical accompaniment is unobtrusive and pleasant. The characters themselves are not voiced, all important information is disclosed through text.
Fran Bowe can hardly be called horror, the game is more sad than scary, although it contains some elements of the genre. The atmosphere is very depressing on its own, there are many creepy, unfriendly characters and violent scenes. It will probably bee too much for children’s perception and deeply impressionable people. The game is saturated with the theme of despair, madness, death and loneliness. At the same time, it managed to maintain a ray of hope and optimism until the very end.
You should play it slowly, carefully exploring the world and pondering on what is happening. Everything has significance, from random pictures on the walls to the names of chapters. You’ll repeatedly come across interesting references to other works and images of culture. The most obvious parallel here is with Alice in Wonderland the game is very similar to. Play Fran Bow online on our site and plunge into this eerie surrealistic adventure together with the troubled yet so charming heroine!