This isn't a review. This isn't a rating of a game or pros and con list. No, this is just me talking about a game. That game is Fran Bow and I never thought a game could impact me so much. Fran Bow is a point and click adventure of a girl named Fran Bow, desperately searching for her lost cat, Mr. Midnight while trying to overcome and understand her insanity brought on by her parents brutal murder. The game kicks off with her escaping from the asylum and quickly takes you to fantastical worlds filled with horror and beauty. To say I enjoyed this game isn't quite right. I am haunted by this game. Not because it's frightening imagery keeps me awake at night or I feel chased by its monsters, no, I am haunted because it left me dreaming. The conclusion of this game is purposely vague. My husband and I played it together and we are still trying to make sense of what we think happened. I feel enamored in the twisted world of this little girl.
Mental illness in storytelling has always been a fascination of mine. Why? Well, for lots of reasons. In this story Fran Bow can access a different reality via her medicine that she takes throughout the game. I have an overactive imaginations and I can safely admit that this imagination is amplified by my struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder. I've also combated anxiety problems brought on by social situations and worrying. Never once have I taken medication to deal this problem. I have often wondered if pills would be the answer to all my problems. But being someone who will barely take tylenol for a headache, I've never had desire to reach further into what benefits medication could bring me. I think Fran Bow showed my greatest irrational concern, that medication would make me lose my mind. It isn't clear if the medication is actually helping or hurting Fran, but it does help her progress through the game. You could also argue that the medicine is to Fran's benefit, giving her the opportunity to enhance her perspective on the world. It feels like the creators were exploring that look at mental illness and the duality of medicine. It paints no clear side to follow and I enjoy that uncertainty. I think uncertainty is my favorite aspect of this game. Is this character good or are they evil? Is this place real or is Fran just losing her mind? There are so many questions and I've never been so happy with no clear answers.
You could argue that there are signs throughout the game to point to Fran being insane, but I think there are just as many signs showing that what she sees is real. What we do know for sure that no matter what mistakes Fran might have made in the past, she is trying to set things right. She is a truly loyal character and spunky to boot! I feel in love so many times with this story and everyone in it. And, this is the first time I've ever seriously debated writing a fan fiction because I didn't want it to end. I hope there is a sequel, but I understand if there can't be, because with this game standing alone, we the audience can always keep dreaming.
Fran Bow was created by Killmonday games. Please visit there website and give them some love. You can purchase this game on Steam and I recommend that you do. It's a beautiful journey. Please leave me a comment if you played this game and tell me about your experience.
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