The Franz Kafka Videogame Review
The work of Franz Kafka can get a little trippy at times, so it’s no wonder that The Franz Kafka Videogame is an oddity to itself. This game is a point-and-click adventure that takes you on a reimagined story of Franz Kafka and his journey to America. Along the way, you’ll solve traditional point-and-click puzzles but often with a metaphysical twist. It is a short game coming in around 2-3 hours depending on how quickly you can solve the puzzles, but I felt if the game went on any longer it would be a detriment to itself.
The Franz Kafka Videogame obviously draws a lot of inspiration from the novels and short stories of the author, dripping with obscure symbolism that I’m sure a Kafka superfan would find relevant; however, I’m only briefly acquainted with his works via Metamorphosis back in high school so I’m sure some of the more subtle references were lost on me. All that being said, the story is still coherent and told well against the papercraft art style and surprisingly fun music. Although understanding why the setting of the story delves into Alice in Wonderland levels of metaphysical insanity probably does help with the player’s overall enjoyment of the game.
“I commend the developer for taking on such an odd corner of literature and creating a unique story inspired by a Bohemian author.”
The actual gameplay is fairly rudimentary even for a point-and-click adventure. There is no inventory and every level is self-contained, something that I feel removes a lot of the stress from each level and lets you enjoy the madness that much more. All you need is a mouse and a working index finger to complete each level. My real criticism comes in with the design of the puzzles. I understand that the theme is this descent into madness, but I thought it was about the character and not about me. The first puzzle players face has only a few moving parts and a very vague clue, that you are supposed to find a rabbit for this Alice-like character. After some brief understanding of how I can interact with the world, I discovered the solution required me to create a silhouette of a rabbit out of the objects in the room. Ok, I thought, this will be the theme of the game. Not a single other puzzle had that same mechanic. Every subsequent puzzle was completely different. Most puzzles were an all-or-nothing style puzzle, meaning there were no steps or confirmation that what you were doing was on the right path to solving the puzzle. Sometimes I needed the hint to just simply understand what I could interact with, to learn that an element of the puzzle could be dragged instead of clicked.
As frustrating as the puzzles were, I still appreciated the game overall. I commend the developer for taking on such an odd corner of literature and creating a unique story inspired by a Bohemian author. The art and music are so well done that I hope to see more of what comes from this developer; furthermore, I hope to maybe see more of these themes explored in other games as well.
*** PC key provided by the publisher ***
- Charming story
- Hints for all puzzles, but not right away
- Puzzles don’t build on a central mechanic
- Never obvious what you can interact with