Home Featured The Franz Kafka Videogame Review – Shaggy Dog Existentialism
The Franz Kafka Videogame Review – Shaggy Dog Existentialism

The Franz Kafka Videogame Review – Shaggy Dog Existentialism


A videogame about Franz Kafka? Sounds strange, right? Well, not in terms of the surrealism and alienation, but I was wondering how stories like The Trial or The Metamorphosis would translate in a videogame.


The Franz Kafka Videogame answers that question, and it’s “Not really” with a but. The but is because while this game is influenced by Kafka it takes bits and pieces from his stories rather than just being a straight adaptation of them.

The story begins in Bohemia, in 1924. The main character is K. a psychiatrist who treats his patients through hypnotism. K. is engaged to a woman called Felice but he’s poor so they can’t get married. The game begins when he gets a letter offering a job, and then it turns into something quite surreal. But you can’t have the name Kafka without having surrealism, right?

“So, what kind of game is this?”

This is a 2D point and click, but it’s closer to games like Samorost, Botanicula or Hamlet (this one by the same developer) in that the game doesn’t have an inventory or interactions other than the puzzles.

Each screen is a puzzle, and they mostly consist in interacting with the environment in the correct order in order to solve them. There are many different puzzles and that’s where the game drops the ball a bit. Some of the puzzles are simple enough to solve, and satisfying. But there are others that require a bit of time, and also involve a bit of that old-fashioned moon logic. The game requires you to think outside the box, and outside of that too!

The issue with this is that it has a hint system that you can’t deactivate because there are no options (other than a language button). The hint system has a timer. After a couple of minutes it gives you a hint, and some minutes later the whole solution. That was a bit of a moodkiller, in that I ended up clicking on that hint system several times by accident, ruining the solution for myself. And the whole “You get a hint and then the whole solution” is a bit of an overkill if you ask me.

Despite of how frustrated I was with some of the puzzles I found them original. And some of them were good. You have to break the fourth wall in a couple of them. And speaking of fourth walls, watch out for the John Romero cameo (referencing Mortal Kombat rather than Doom, which I still don’t get).

“So, what’s so Kafkaesque about this game?”

Apart from the whole situation with the puzzles, the game gives you a sense of existential anguish, in a way. You’ve no idea where you’re going or why exactly. The story mixes elements from different Kafka stories but the ones that are most recognizable are America and The Metamorphosis.

In fact, the reference to The Metamorphosis was my favourite thing in this game, as there’s a section where you play as Gregor Zamza as a private detective. And yes, he’s a bug. But in the end of the day that wasn’t enough.

I was expecting the game would have some sort of references to The Trial. I wanted that existential dread that dealing with authority of any kind gives me. This is more of the “What is going on? I have no idea what I’m doing” type. And while that one’s terrifying it’s not the same.

Russian developer Dennis Galamin (mif2000) made this game and Daedalic Entertainment published it. Daedalic do a lot for the adventure genre, and while I might not necessarily like all their games, I always appreciate their efforts. It’s also interesting that the design was improvised, I don’t really agree with the choice behind this but I still find it interesting.

Still, I was hoping this game could’ve been more than it is. The game looks pretty but at the end of the day it disappointed me. It’s very short, and I felt like I just spent two hours getting angry at myself when I played it. Still, one thing that has to be noted is that in the end, this is just an opinion. It’s not my kind of game, but it might be your kind of game…

You can buy it on Steam for €9.99