Review for Freud’s Bones
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Freud’s Bones by Fortuna Imperatore is one of the most unusual adventure games I’ve ever played. Using a third-person perspective, a point-and-click interface, and an interesting pixel art style, players take on the role of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, and help him treat patients. They’ll determine whether he’s successful or not. Freud was a unique individual, his friend Carl Jung once said of him, “I believe that Freud is in crisis and that without a faithful friend, he will end up being swallowed by his ghosts.” During this game, those ghosts are you. This adventure's unique premise and well-constructed graphics and sound are hampered by its lack of locations to visit and monotonous puzzles. So some players may find Freud’s Bones a tedious experience.
Freud’s Bones has no inventory feature and doesn’t use a hot spot indicator; however hotspots are used only sparingly. Music is there, but it's easy to forget about it. There’s no voice acting, which is unfortunate because its presence may have helped enliven the characters. The objective is to help Freud diagnose the ailments of the patients who come to see him. This is accomplished in four phases.
First you must analyze the patient’s clinical record. Mouse over all its documents until the cursor changes to a magnifying glass, then click. Freud will circle points of interest useful in the next phase, therapy with the patient.
During the therapy session, your goal is to make the patient aware of their irrational thoughts by asking them questions. Questions are asked by clicking on icons that are presented in a circular manner. The patient’s psyche is divided into three levels. The bottom level is the ID. It's represented by a bull and is analogous to unconscious desires. The second level is the Superego. Depicted by a sniper, it holds the internalized moral standards and ideals that we learn from our parents and society. It governs our sense of right and wrong and is required for making judgments. The top-level represents the Ego. It is depicted by a marionette. It embodies social constraints and ensures that the desires of the ID can be fulfilled in an acceptable manner.
When you select the correct questions, the patient’s thought, which is represented by a bone, will proceed upward through the aforementioned levels of their mind. When the bone reaches the top level, a successful diagnosis is possible. After interviewing the patient, using what was learned in therapy, click on the paragraph that describes the best diagnosis.
The last phase is the remedy. Once the patient is diagnosed, click on the checkbox that prescribes the best solution. If successful, Freud will receive fifty shillings. If only moderately successful, Freud will be awarded a significantly smaller fee. If he fails with an incorrect diagnosis, he’ll receive no money and his reputation will suffer.
Aside from sessions with patients, Freud needs to translate hieroglyphics from a pyramid resting on his table to gain insight into his own mind. You click on the pyramid and then decipher the pictures it shows by selecting from a list of possible translations that the game presents.
The majority of the game occurs inside Freud’s home. He doesn’t get out much. But he will walk his dog, Joffi, during the game. One other location is The Cafe Eckland. Between patients, Freud will go there to eat meals of cake and coffee. If his reputation is high enough, the cafe may present him with the opportunity to sell his books to make money. This is done in a similar manner to therapy sessions; if you select the correct things for Freud to say, people will become his patrons and give him money. Freud can use the money to purchase cigars or cocaine, ameliorating his mental stress which increases throughout the game. Be careful, if cocaine isn’t used sparingly, Freud might miss a therapy session with a client, which could negatively influence the story's finale. The resolution of the story reminds Freud of the purpose of therapy; to better understand our actions and their impact on others. At the end of the game, Freud will indeed see how his choices affected his patients. They will either go on to live a happy life or not.
Freud’s Bones is unique. I can’t remember another game that delved so deeply into the life of a real person. Through well-made graphics and sound, players will learn the many intriguing aspects of psychoanalysis and much about Freud himself. Sadly, over time the exacting puzzles grow monotonous. Still, overall, I’m glad I spent twelve hours experiencing it.