I wasn't sure what to think of it in the beginning, as the first chapter was nice enough but didn't really draw me in that much. Lots of gore and macabre images in the familiar setting of an asylum made it seem a bit like your average horror adventure. But that changed a lot once the asylum was left behind, the game started to grow on me really quickly then and I loved all the following chapters for their delightful weirdness, beautiful illustration and originality.
It's a bit of an odd mixture between horrid and cute, creepy and heart-warming, serious and funny, wise and naive, but that fits the story very well. There are a few things that I didn't find very believable. For example, the game is supposed to take place in the 1940's, but it isn't always true to that setting and also features things like a color TV with several different channels. And Fran is supposed to be eleven years old, but at times she's a lot more knowledgable than she ought to be at that age (e.g. talking about "placenta" and Einstein's relativity), while the rest of the time I found most of her dialogue more fitting for a six or seven year old girl. Of course part of that could be explained by her quirky character, and the special circumstances or condition she finds herself in (naivity as a coping mechanism), but it's still not very convincing, if you think about it too much. Apart from that, I liked the writing a lot though. Some of Fran's remarks are really remarkable, they made me laugh or think, and they perfectly capture the weird but somehow logical and even wise ways in which children sometimes think. (They are also a bit reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's Alice occasionally, and the game is very open about this inspiration.)
As a point and click adventure it is mostly easy and very enjoyable, although there were two to three puzzles which forced me to take a peek in a walkthrough and I think they could have been done much better (e.g. in one case the most obvious solution was only allowed after finding out that a lot more obscure and complicated solution didn't work out, and there was no logical explanation why Fran couldn't and wouldn't have tried the more obvious thing first; if you try it too early, you just get a generic "I could, but I won't" reaction).
Another thing that I found irritating at first was the way that the speech bubble dialogue is handled, as sometimes two lines of dialogue following each other remain displayed on the screen at the same time, and not always in the order you'd expect them to (not seldom the second line is displayed above the first line, instead of below, contrary to how successive dialogue is usually displayed in comics). And if you want to read all of Fran's comments about objects in the environment, you have to click on those objects several times (between two and five), until they start repeating again. It's nothing you can't adapt to quickly, I just feel there might have been more immersive and professionally looking ways to handle that. And adventure gamers probably won't like that there is only one savegame and no manual saving. You will never lose any progress, the game always saves on quitting and let's you continue exactly where you left it, but you won't be able to replay specific scenes unless you replay the whole chapter. There are no voiceovers, btw, and sometimes, instead of animations, you get illustrated stills. But I actually think voiceovers wouldn't have suited the game, and I really liked the stills.
Anyway, most of the criticism above is just nitpicking and a lot less problematic than it might sound in my review. Overall I thought this was a very good adventure game, with a gripping story full of original ideas, as well as fantastic graphics and great sound design. It was also longer than I expected it to be, and since I enjoyed it so much, I consider that a good thing.
Post edited March 14, 2016 by Leroux