The GWJ Adventure Game Club - Game 12: Fran Bow

Fran Bow (2015)


Thank you all for trusting in my pick for this month and going for this suitably Halloween'ish game, Fran Bow. Developed and published by Killmonday Games, this adventure game features a strong gothic horror aesthetic and tells the story of a 10 year old girl struggling with mental illness after witnessing certain violent events.

I'm going to throw another trigger warning up here, the game does deal with mental health issues as well as violent imagery, so it's okay if you need to sit this one out, folks. Self care comes first, as always. I'm putting the themes in a spoiler below.

You can find the wikipedia page here, usual spoiler warning apply. How Long to Beat estimates about 8 hours to completion. Available on Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, iOS, Android.

You can find the main thread over this way. We'll be playing Fran Bow in October 2019, with an extra month should you require it.

Trigger warnings:


Per a tumblr post: TWs for "gore, ableism, medical abuse, animal abuse, extreme body horror, self harm, suicide, slightly graphic allusion/discussion of child sexual abuse, domestic violence, and just a whole lot of violence in general."

Interested in reading peoples impressions on this one. It certainly is quite... unique. Mostly enjoyed how disturbing and absurd it was.
Since I played it so recently I'm not going to play it again.

Played through part 1 on the train today. That's some intense imagery indeed! The translation/writing is a bit stilted, but the story is f*cked up and compelling so far.

Glad you’re still tagging into the conversation, Shadout. Full disclosure, even though I intended to, I didn’t replay the games I had already played. Time is a metric we have little control on. looking forward to experiencing Fran Bow though.

So how's everyone coming along? I'm actually having this internal debate, and I think I'm going to put this game on my schedule for Extra Life on the first weekend of November (1st-2nd-3rd). That might put me a little behind everyone, but I feel it's fitting. I am a little concerned that it might be a bit much, so any feedback on how stream-appropriate it is is welcome.

I've got the second chapter downloaded onto my phone, but haven't started it up yet

I keep meaning to start it, but still haven't. Soon, though, I almost promise!

I’ve started the demo seems well done in a very disturbing way. I’ll press on and decide if I’ll get the full game.

Just a heads up, folks, but I'll be streaming Fran Bow for International GWJ day on Saturday, from 9pm to 11pm my time, so that's 3pm to 5pm Eastern, noon to 2pm Pacific. Hope you can drop by!

Sounds like fun! I'll definitely try to make it!

I started the game last night and played for about a half hour. I really liked the atmosphere and the creepy bits. Hopefully, I'll find some time to play some more today!

Wowww, I fired this up the other side of midnight a few days back, and made it maybe 20 minutes in before I noped out pretty hard. Pushed all the right buttons to really get into my head and blew right past my threshold of enjoyable creepiness. Granted my threshold is pretty darn low for this particular sort of thing, so I went in knowing that was likely, especially given that extensive trigger warning.

I might try one more time if I find myself in a good, non sleep-deprived headspace. Actually, I already had it on Steam so I didn't note that it was available on Android - might see if I find it more tolerable on a phone/tablet.

Completely understandable, Benign! Though I have to say I'm not sure it'll be easier on Android rather than Steam. =/ Definitely don't force yourself if you're just not in the right headspace.

Fran bow is on sale.

Higgledy wrote:

Fran bow is on sale.

Thanks for the heads up! I want to continue with this game. I should have known October is always very busy for me, but I'm determined to play this game through!

Same! I haven't spent nearly as much time with it as I would like. I did get to stream the first chapter last week for International GWJ day, so if anyone wants to take a peek before deciding to jump in or not, you can get a sample over on my Twitch channel. I was a bit nervous, since it's not exactly a colorful, cheery game, but I ended up having lots of fun playing it and chatting with folks who dropped by. I plan to play more next weekend and hopefully finish it during Extra Life.

I started chapter 2 on my phone, but hit a confusing bit, then got sidetracked into playing much more Duolingo and Marvel Puzzle Quest. I'll probably finish it out, though.

So. I wrapped up Fran Bow last weekend during the Extra Life stream. As a quick recap, for those of you who don't want/can't/aren't able to play themselves, you have the first chapter over here which I streamed for International GWJ day, and then during Extra Life, the second chapter, third chapter and then chapters 4 and 5. Videos on Twitch only remain for a month, so if the link's dead, that's why. If there's sufficient interest, I'll reupload the videos.

Now that I've completed this game, I'm actually rather fascinated. This was basically the work of two people (a programmer and an artist), though more contributed. The game they've created is mindboggling, and I really appreciate what they've done here. It's hard to go into more detail without spoilers, but they tackled some pretty strong themes regarding mental health, and mental illnesses, and too few games do that (Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is the only game that springs to mind). This game has left a lasting impression on me, and I wanted to allow myself a few days to "digest it" before reporting back. I'm still not quite certain I've a good handle on it, though.

Spoilers for the whole damn game:


So it's pretty clear by the end of the game that Fran Bow does suffer for mental illness, and I'm fairly certain she's been hallucinating the entire game. Though I believed that she might have escaped the asylum in the first chapter, now... I'm not so sure. There do seem to be some really dark things going which I'm 100% certain are real, such as patients being lobotomized, her parents' murders. But a lot of it are hallucinations which she kinda "dreams up" as a protection mechanism. In psych, you often have patients that have very detailed hallucinations that have their own internal logic. They often serve a specific purpose, either a manifestation of the patient's anxiety for example, or a protection mechanism (some benevolent figure which is there to protect and advise the patient. My psych classes are a bit dated, so I'd really hesitate and actually won't hazard a diagnosis, but Fran really does seem to fit all of this.
I'm not certain, I'm still trying to sort it all out.

A lot of the puzzles were really smart, though I was glad to have a guide on hand, for sure.

What about you folks? Thoughts? Impressions? I'd be thrilled to bounce a few things of off you all!

It's been a few years since I played the game, but my read of it at the time generally lines up with yours, Eleima. I would have to replay it, since there were some things at the end I wasn't sure how to read, but I can't remember the specifics anymore.
Either way, this is one of my favorite games period, and easily my favorite point and click. The world and characters they made for her are so imaginative and I felt they handled the themes super well. The puzzles were also not too hard or illogical, which is what often prevents me from getting into many games in this genre.