Fran Bow is a psychological horror in the style of a Point and Click Adventure game, but it's also so much more than that. This game does what many games these days are far too afraid to do -- instead of holding your hand, Fran Bow asks more questions than it answers and will let you come to your own conclusions. The game begins with a young girl, Fran Bow, who experiences immense tragedy, frightened, she runs into the woods with her best friend, a cat named Mr. Midnight, but is found and brought to the Oswald Asylum.
Fran Bow has excellent graphics. The entire thing is illustrated in a way that reminds me of a children's storybook, yet at the same time is grotesque and unnerving. The locations vary widely in color palette and overall design and this will keep your eyes interested all the way through, definitely a wonder. Sometimes I would stop just to explore and look at the details in the environment.
The graphics are utilized effectively to emphasis the tone of the game, in a dreary environment they actually make you feel dreary, and it's a wonderful use of aesthetics that I rarely ever see. Many of the locales are surreal, some are grisly and realistic, and some are just...odd, and I enjoyed every one of these locations.
Fran Bow features no voice acting, and that's entirely fine, because it features one of the most hauntingly beautiful soundtracks I've ever heard. It works together with the graphics to further influence the way the player feels and it does so incredibly effectively. The music never got annoying or repetitive for me, and the sounds are crisp, precise, and used exactly as you'd expect from a game that had a much higher budget than Fran Bow actually did. In fact, it out does all of the Triple A titles I've played recently.
Fran Bow takes the style of a Point N' Click, which is fine by me. I've never been one to enjoy Point N' Click games and yet Fran Bow was still amazing for me, mostly because they used the gameplay as a medium to tell the story and explore the environment incredibly well. It doesn't feel unnatural in the slightest. Furthermore the game offers some mini-games with quite a bit of variety interspersed at various intervals that add variety to the gameplay.
In addition to exploring the regular world, Fran also has a medication known as Duotine, which she uses to view a gorey and grotesque world, sometimes going here simply adds more to the atmosphere of the game and other times it is necessary for progression. I'd recommend using them in every room you can, regardless, as a lot of the world of Fran Bow is revealed this way.
Fran Bow does something unique. Instead of bombarding you with Jumpscares, it uses the dark themes, art style, and sound to instill you a very deep sense of unease. One that is scarier than any of the games I've played recently. It gives you the vibe of a sick twisted and horrifying fairy tale world that will keep you on the edge of your seat. This game touches upon topics rarely explored in video games, such as mental trauma, suicide, abuse, and the morbid history of mental treatment. This game will make you think about the world around you a lot, and unlike jumpscare riddled games, the fear will stick with you after it's over.
Fran Bow's storyline is immensely intriguing. Unlike most games, it leaves you to figure things out for yourself and almost never gives a clear answer. Things are better this way as, like Fran herself, you will begin to question what is real and not as the walls of insanity and every-day life begin to break down, and Fran is caught in the middle of it. I found myself exploring every room I could in order to piece together all of the information I could about the world of Fran Bow and it was well worth the time.
The game shows you insight into some of the most scary real-world occurences there are, like pedophilia, human-experimentation, and the effects of a traumatic childhood on a little girl.
In closing I'd like to say that Fran Bow is definitely one of the greatest horror games out there and I'd recommend it very highly. It's available on Steam for fifteen dollars and is well worth it. I'd recommend you pick it up, put on some headphones, and prepare yourself for an otherwordly and enjoyable trip into the mind of a demented little girl. It took me about eight hours to beat this game, but could take a bit shorter if you don't stop to explore (I would not recommend skipping out on exploring).
I think everyone should play Fran Bow at least once.