Point-and-Creep: ‘Fran Bow’ Chapter 3 Sends a Powerful Message to Survivors

Fran Bow
[PART 1] [PART 2] [PART 3]

[Trigger warning: Death, depression, and suicide. The entire game involves gory hallucinations. Or are they?]

In my last review, we followed Fran into a seemingly lovely home situated inside of a well. She finally found Mr. Midnight held hostage by a pair of conjoined twins who needed him for a spell to separate themselves. Fran discovers a hidden spell that eventually eliminated the twins, then they escaped together—only to come across the dark shadow once again. The log bridge beneath them collapsed and instead of falling to her death, Fran found her body missing, as she is now in the form of a tree.

The third chapter is aptly named “Vegetative State.” Fran and Mr. Midnight are graced by the presence of King Ziar of Ithersta, and as she tries to explain her current tree-like state, Ziar tells her that he will easily be able to find the reason by growing a seed from her head. According to the seed, he discovers that she’s a seeker of the truth, apparently a common Bow family trait. He also seems to know her as someone with a passion for life. Is this sequence meant to mimic a near-death experience, and where we go when we fight for dear life? For all we know, she may be unconscious or comatose.

He then tells her that her seed shows a world nobody should see—nobody except for one—and that Fran is not supposed to be here. Could this mean depression or perhaps even delusion? She pleads to go home, but the king says it’s too dangerous to do so. She also wonders if she is now dead. He seems puzzled and does not appear to understand her question. As far as he could tell, she’s very much alive.

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Stealing With Style: Classy Stealth in ‘The Marvellous Miss Take’

The Marvellous Miss Take

I love heist movies. I also love video games. I have no earthly idea why it wasn’t until last week that I tried playing a heist video game. The Marvellous Miss Take had been on my wishlist for a while now, partly because it looked fun and partly because it appeared to be a video game starring a woman. The price was the only thing holding me back, but when it showed up in a Humble Bundle, I finally pounced on it. And, quite swiftly, fell in love with it.

The basic story of the game centers around a young woman named Sophia Take, whose late great-aunt’s fabulous art collection has ended up in the hands of vile billionaire Ralph Blackstock due to some dodgy business surrounding the will. What’s a girl to do? Well, steal it all back, naturally! Gallery by gallery, Sophia sets out to reclaim all of her great-aunt’s stolen art, and picks up a few sidekicks along the way: Harry, a painter turned gentleman art thief who has a few tricks to show her, and Daisy, a snarky teenage pickpocket who couldn’t give a toss about the law. (Did I mention they’re in London?)

The trio’s members only ever work solo, so there’s a lot of replaying the same levels as different characters, but their vastly different abilities and objectives remove any sense of repetitiveness. Yet despite this separation, the brief, humorous speech bubble dialogue between heists gave all of the characters a surprising amount of charm and depth. I quickly fell in love with this little family of friendly thieves.

Continue reading “Stealing With Style: Classy Stealth in ‘The Marvellous Miss Take’”

Point-and-Creep: ‘Fran Bow’ Is Delightfully Gory

FranBow

[PART 1] [PART 2] [PART 3]

[Trigger warning: Sexual abuse, cutting, suicidal tendencies, rape, and pedophilia. The entire game involves gory hallucinations. Or are they?]

I backed Fran Bow two years ago after seeing a few YouTubers tackle the Alpha Demo. It has been officially released a few days ago, and I am playing it to observe the game from a few angles, as both a feminist as well as someone with a mental illness. Additionally, some other matters may be brought up along the way, depending on what developer and artist Natalia Figueroa decides to throw at us through this quaint point-and-click adventure horror game.

Are you ready? Be warned: SPOILERS ahead!

Chapter 1 shows our protagonist being sent to a children’s asylum after witnessing the morbid murder of her parents. When she initially ran away from the gory scene of the crime with her cat, Mr. Midnight, only to collapse in a forest to be taken in by unknown parties, Mr. Midnight runs off. Upon investigation, you discover that you are being sent here not only against your will, but that your legal guardian, Aunt Grace, appears to have something to tell you.

From exploring the backdrop and observing the style of dress, this probably takes place around the ’50s or so, especially since the concept of institutionalizing people is no longer as widespread as it used to be back then. Fran Bow reminds me of the early Monkey Island games with its puzzles and simplicity. I found that I end up kicking myself when the solutions were right in front of me and I just spent too much time making things more complex than they really were.

Continue reading “Point-and-Creep: ‘Fran Bow’ Is Delightfully Gory”

A Foray Into Point-and-Click Adventure Games: The Good & The (Very) Bad

Deponia

I used to hate point-and-click adventure games.

Maybe it was that I just didn’t have the patience to play them and that I was a console kid, but point-and-click adventure games simply seemed like relics of the past to me. While I had friends who would talk to me about the wonders of the Monkey Island series or how great Grim Fandango was, I always equated them with those text-based adventures like Hugo III: Jungle of Doom! and its ilk. That meant, to my mind, that they would most likely be immensely frustrating and I would just stick with my platformers, thank you very much.

My first real foray into point-and-click adventures started out poorly. Have you heard of Deponia? I really, really hope you haven’t. It was the art style that drew me toward Deponia in the first place, and when I saw that people had favorably compared the game to Monkey Island, I thought I would check it out.

Right from the beginning, Deponia was despicable. You’re abusive to your ex-girlfriend and the princess who you need to save is named “Goal.” There are transphobic jokes where a character who is obviously meant to be a man dressed in women’s clothing flits between a grotesque falsetto and a low baritone. Every single line had the character’s voice crack as if the game was nudging me in the ribs to say, “Hey, let’s laugh at this person who’s different!” You also get to drug your ex-girlfriend and ogle her while she’s in the shower.

I could go on and on about how terrible the Deponia series is as a whole, but I think John Walker from Rock, Paper, Shotgun pretty much nailed it.

Continue reading “A Foray Into Point-and-Click Adventure Games: The Good & The (Very) Bad”

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