Fran Bow is almost the polar opposite of the recently released Dropsy. Instead of being a whimsical adventure with lots of hugs and peeing dogs, Fran Bow is a point and click about a deeply disturbed young girl who sees and does some awful things, chats with strange monsters, and confronts her dark past in a way that certainly isn’t hugging people. After playing through the game’s first few chapters, I reached out to the writer and designer of Fran Bow, Natalia Figueroa, to discuss the game’s dark imagery, the game’s series of minigames, and more!
TechRaptor: First off, what is Fran Bow?
Natalia: Fran Bow is a creepy point and click adventure game about a ten year old girl, Fran, that struggles with the dead of her parents. She has Mr.Midnight, a black cat that she adores but sadly they get separated and she wants to find him at any cost. The journey is full of mysteries and wonderful places to visit. The story is painful, sometimes a bit gory but also it can be quite sweet.
TechRaptor: What other media influenced the creation of Fran Bow?
Natalia: Life itself, books, paintings, movies, nature.
TechRaptor: Fran Bow has some very grotesque imagery. Where did you get the inspiration for some of the more disturbing sights in the game?
Natalia: Sometimes you see things when you are a child and try to make sense of them because they are so terrible and drawing for me is kind of making sense of that things.
TechRaptor: Overall, the game has a very nice art style. What was the inspiration for the art?
Natalia: I would say, inspiration comes from everywhere! Nature is a huge inspiration for me, also people! Some painters like Salvador Dalí and Mark Ryden had also a big impact on me.
TechRaptor: Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that chapter 1 has far more gore than the rest of the game. Why is that?
Natalia: My idea was to tell a story and for that we need to move on, we need to grow. If the environment is the same is difficult to grow or to learn new things. That’s why the story evolves with the character.
TechRaptor: A common praise for Fran Bow is the way it handles mental illness. What do you think separates Fran Bow from other games on that topic?
Natalia: I haven’t played all games that “handles” mental illness. But for what I’ve seen, it seems that many don’t really understand what a mental illness really is. Is not something to be “afraid” of, or to use it for scare you.
A mental illness can be caused by mild to very severe experiences in life, now I’m mainly talking about traumas. In games for what I’ve seen it handles mental illness like something related to the “unknown”, but is NOT like that in Fran Bow. Mental illness are there because of something in particular and it’s the one having the issues with help of those around that will actually make a difference. That is why the journey in Fran Bow, it’s a way to maybe not get better 100% for Fran, but getting stronger and finally make you see that there are sometimes where you can choose. There is a particular line that I love in Fran Bow, it says: “Wake up in darkness and you will be able to walk towards light”.
TechRaptor: Horror and point and click are genres that seem to go together very well. Why do you think that is?
Natalia: Personally I think, point and clicks can give you that more “slow” pace to actually get involved in the story and with the characters and that’s what I like the most.
TechRaptor: Why allow players to skip the minigames?
Natalia: Because personally, it would feel super bad if somebody that only like to play point and click was obligated to beat a mini game even is not of interest. It would kill the story flow. And why did I then put the mini games then? Because I wanted to link the story with different environments, a breeze of something else to the eyes.
TechRaptor: The game gets considerably more into the realm of fantasy after you leave the asylum. Why’s that?
Natalia: It’s seems fantasy, but like I said before all is inspired by my life experiences, a lot of metaphorical beings and places that in a way, helped me when I was struggling the most. I felt that Fran needed also to see what’s beyond the darkness and sadness she experienced.
TechRaptor: Finally, will you make any more games now that Fran Bow is finished?
Natalia: Yes! Definitely! My husband and I have many ideas, other genre other characters etc. And also we want to study more. Technology advances so quick so we must keep it up!
TechRaptor: Thank you for your time.