It’s one of those games where the creepy factor has the potential to make you want to play with the lights on and have occasional “holy riceballs WTF?!” moments. Be ready to see many disturbing and gory scenes meheh…heh…heh…kekekeke…
Thank you everyone who helped me share, retweet, etc. this review in order to aid the game with its crowdfunding. I also want to thank those of you who helped support this game by helping them with their indiegogo. If you’re a developer and want me to also help you with shamelessly bragging and letting people know about your game, please go to the “Games in Need of Crowdfunding” page on the menu up top.
A Creepy Horror Point and Click Indie Game Review
developed by: Killermonday Games
What got me interested: I was looking through my twitter feed when I saw Mr. Paul Greasley, creator of Under the Ocean; trying to help the game raise some funds by twitting its indiegogo page, so I checked it out. I was already intrigued by the game’s storyline, but what sealed the deal for me were the screenshots I saw like the one above. I’m very picky with horror games because a lot of times, people confuse the thriller genre for horror so I personally find it difficult to find a game that’s an actual horror game like Amnesia. I also like the fact that the game uses artstyle and story to creep and scare the players rather relying on “jump scares” like most horror games (and even movies) do.
What is a “Jump Scare” Scene?
As written in urbandictionary.com, “A tactic used in horror movies to scare people, the jump scare is used by unimaginative filmmakers as a cheap method of frightening the audience; i.e, making them literally “jump” out of their seats. This device is being increasingly employed in modern horror movies, along with gratuitous amounts of gore, because the directors have forgotten how to actually scare people.” <– just change the words “movies” into “games” and “filmmakers” into “game devs”.
First Impression and Gameplay
Oh man the opening scene made me feel all sorts of things. I felt my eyes go wide at the end. It actually made me very excited with the game in terms of story. I also loved the minimalistic black and white art style approach that shows the story of how Fran ended up where she is. I actually admire the fact that this little girl can still smile and get feisty from what she had to go through. I was also pleasantly surprised with what I’ve experienced with the game considering it’s still early in development. The developers are planning on making this into a 5 chapter game. From what I’ve seen so far, I’m really looking forward to the completion and future chapters of the game.
The artstyle reminded me of those early story books with the cutout look. In a way it’s like a contradicting art. It made me feel like they went for the innocent and lovely storybook artstyle with a “Tim Burton” like creepy twist but on a more disturbing and bloody level. I absolutely LOVE IT! I’ve always been a fan of contradicting art. Hell, that’s the direction I go for when I create some of my personal art so I really enjoyed this aspect of the game. This also made the game’s artstyle stand out for me because many horror games try to go for full on “realistic” scary art.
Fran Bow has some great music that really compliments the dark ambiance of the game as well as enhance the emotions that’s being depicted in each scene. There’s this one piano piece that I can keep listening to on repeat.
The game is about a little girl who saw a creepy thing outside her window, heard screaming in her parents room, and then discovered them murdered ( how they were murdered was what made my eyes go wide as saucers). She was later sent into a place for “crazy” kids. This is where the game starts off with a doc that introduces Fran to a special kind of pill. She seems to have two goals: Number 1 is to find her precious cat Mr. Midnight who seem to play an important role in the game. The other will be to find her parents murderer. However, reaching her goal will not be easy because a mysterious creature is trying to thwart her. Why? I’m not sure myself which is hooking me in more.
Dialogue and Fran
I like how many of the dialogues I get to choose from gives Fran a sense of different personalities (for me anyway). I’ll try my best to explain what I mean. For example, whenever I’m in a conversation with an NPC and the dialogues pop up, one of the options seems to always give her a sense of feisty, cynical, and in your face type of personality, while the other seems to give her an indifferent and quiet personality as if nothing fazes her anymore. I like it because for me, it gives the character a sense of “realness” in terms of someone going through the trauma she did. In real life, it is possible for that person to manifest those personalities. Therefore it made me connect to Fran better.
The Pill, Poppin’ all day e’rday
For the impressionable kids and adults, please remember this is a game, so don’t even try to pull a Fran to “solve” problems or get to another reality by pill poppin’. Sorry guys and gals, I don’t mean to offend but I gta write this message just in case because ya all know how people get sometimes
I’ve mentioned a special kind of pill earlier. This pill plays an important part in the game in terms of progression. Fran Bow has many puzzles and problems that you can only solve by using the pill from time to time. Whenever you use the pill, you’ll be transported into what I call, “BAR” aka the bloody alternate reality; where you will need to interact with the creatures and objects you see in there in order to progress in the story. Every room shows a different “BAR” so you’re going to need to pop them pills a lot. Also, I must say, I really like the disturbing things I saw on the other reality. It really is creepy, especially when you really look at the details. I mean c’mon just look at the picture below!
UPDATE: Before, the pill’s “BAR” effect lasts until you move to the next room or you click on the pill picture again. Now, they implemented a pretty disturbing indicator that will let you know when the pill’s effect is about to wear off. That means you have to scan and move around the room pretty fast in order to find what you need. You can, however, retake the pill.
Mysterious Creature…of DOOM! (dundundun)
So, earlier, I also talked about this stranger danger looking dude who will try to be a pebble in your shoe (don’t laugh, I’m asian and grew up in an asian household, we have all these sayings which I’m not ashamed to say, I still say to people). I’ve only seen him twice in the game, but I’m pretty sure we’ll see him many times when the game is complete. I don’t even know if he’s real or not since Fran saw him for the first time before she even took the pill. The second time I saw him made me jump though. As I said before, this guy is really hooking me in the game too.
Interacting and Memorable NPCs
I really appreciate the fact you can interact with pretty much everything in the rooms unlike many point and click where you usually can only interact with mostly key items and a dash of misc. You can also use the items you collect on people you meet in the game. I tried using the hook on this poor little boy and he thought I was gna hack him with it. I don’t know why but it made me laugh guiltily. As for the NPCs. I enjoy meeting them, especially the other kids. I found them memorable with their interesting personalities. I especially like the little girl who reminded me of a drug dealer when she told me she can sell “magical” stuff wink wink. I’ve yet to talk to a creature though, when I tried talking to the creatures in “BAR”, Fran might as well be talking to a wall. Maybe they don’t see me yet.
UPDATE: You can now interact with the suspicious shadow monsters lurking behind the kids. The things they say seems to have something to do with why the kids ended up in the facility. They aren’t saying encouraging and nice things that’s for sure.
Combining and Mini Games
Many of the puzzles can’t be solved just by using the pill alone. You also have to combine the items you find in both “real” reality and the alternate one. The devs will also be implementing mini games that will remind you of the old classics we used to play back in the day. I think the mini games role is more for story progression than just for fun. I’m not sure yet on that though.
Is I’ve said before, I was really pleasantly surprised with this game. It did satisfy the aspects I’ve been looking for in a horror game which personally made me happy and excited. The artstyle and music are gorgeous and can really deliver the reaction they want the players to have, the storyline is interesting, and it seems like the devs wanted to bring something unique with their point and click by implementing the “classic” type of mini games. Personally, I would totally recommend this, especially to those who love horror (not thriller) games. If ya like games with the feel of silent hill, amnesia, and even fatal frame, this might suite you. Let’s help this game get fully funded!
Fundraising in Indiegogo
Like many indie devs, they also need the money to pretty much survive. Since they put most of their time in the games they’re developing, a full time job is hard to handle, therefor, they either go unemployed or go on partime jobs where the pay isn’t enough to cover their living expenses. So the money isn’t just going for the games they’re developing, it will also feed them and keep them from pretty much going hobo mode. This will also enable them to develop the game faster but don’t worry, it seems like they don’t want to rush it so I’m pretty sure they’re going to do everything in a proper manner.
Their Indiegogo page:
UPDATE: FULLY FUNDED BABY! THANK YOU AGAIN FOR HELPING!
Be sure to try out the demo!
For more games that are/were in need of crowdfunding please go here (link).