The Franz Kafka Videogame Review: Betrachtung

April 14th, 2017 -

Think back to when you were going to school, in whatever the highest level of math was that you attempted, and think about that problem you stared at for hours without understanding. Now think of the teacher showing how to find the answer, and being completely lost still. That’s not really what this game is like, but I just thought you should remember that moment in your life.

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If you have no knowledge of who Franz Kafka is, it won’t really hurt your enjoyment of this game, if you are to find any. If you have some knowledge, you’ll no doubt see nods to things that you recognize, and take joy in those. If you have copious amounts of knowledge, you may find this game to be a bit too simplistic in the ideas that the man would take on in his writing.

The game is basically a series of visual puzzles, with some having a clear solution, and others seemingly ending with random clicking to come to an answer. If you think point-and-click adventure games have weird solutions, you have not even considered this game. While you won’t be having any fights with funny quips, nor will you be adding suggestions to a suggestion box for our forefathers, you will find yourself removing a cow from train tracks through aviary means, writing a word to destroy a monster, and completing a numbered puzzle in a way you wouldn’t expect.

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Of course, for each absurd puzzle, there were puzzles that were more straight forward and clever. Puzzles that utilized visual clues that gave away the answer if you only looked. No doubt puzzles that you’ve figured out in other games or outlets, such as creating an object’s silhouette with inanimate objects, or doing something in a rhythm based on a symbol. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t be having a complete meltdown with these puzzles like you would with The Witness, especially as the game will offer you hints if you take too long with any single puzzle. There’s even an achievement for using hints on every single puzzle. If you’re a keen achievement hunter, it may behoove you to do that your first playthrough, as the puzzles don’t change.

A fun fact about the game, and probably partially why it took so long to finally launch, is that Denis (the developer) improvised the entire game. By that, I mean there were no plans for what the puzzles would be, what the story would be, or the characters you’d come across. There is no design document for the game. Having worked on a couple of games, this is not typically a process you’d want to follow. Being a creator at all, this can lead to a lot of walls in progress, and potentially leaving the project altogether. This was referred to as Improvisational Game Design by Denis, and I can’t think of a game that this pipeline could possibly fit better.

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The game will last you about two hours if you struggle with the puzzles, otherwise you’re looking at a playtime between an hour and an hour and a half. You’ll end up wondering what you played, and whether it was worth your time in the first place. You’ll reconsider whether you played a game, or simply witnessed some grander experience that a human can’t comprehend. Or maybe you’ll just ask Steam for a refund. Either way, it’s up to you. Do know there are a couple moments that will make you laugh though; an unexpected chuckle.

If you are willing to accept absurdity in the form of a game, you may be ready for The Franz Kafka Videogame. If not, I honestly don’t know that I can suggest this, unless you are a diehard fan of Kafka. To which point, you would be one for the absurd.

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Pros

  • Unique Puzzles
  • Absolutely Absurd

Cons

  • Puzzles With Seemingly No Rhyme or Reason

The Franz Kafka Videogame was developed by Denis Galanin (mif2000) and published by Daedalic Entertainment. The game launched on PC April 6th, 2017 for $9.99. The game was provided to us for review on Steam. If you’d like to see more of The Franz Kafka Videogame, check out the official site.

 

Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.

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