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The Franz Kafka Videogame Review: Problem solving with the 'surrealists'

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The Franz Kafka Videogame won't be the best puzzle game you'll ever play, but it will be the most charming puzzle game you'll ever play. I unraveled its mysteries in just over three hours, and if you're a fan of the genre, then it's a must play, especially at only R109 (Steam price).

Playing the game felt like walking inside a series of enchanted drawings. Images painted by iconic surrealists like Dali, Rene Magritte, or Max Ernst. It was Rene Magritte who said about painting that “Everything we see hides another thing," and that's exactly what beats at the heart of The Franz Kafka Videogame. The developer, Denis Galanin (better known as mif2000), drew inspiration from some of Kafka's work, and you'll notice a few references in the different acts, but the beauty and charm of this game are captured in how it combines art and puzzle solving.

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As you can see in the images, the artwork (and puzzles) are striking in its simplicity and complexity. It's an echo you'll find throughout the game, and perhaps a play on the philosophy behind surrealism. The story indeed centres around a dream world, or rather, it takes the player inside a dream of a dream of a dream. You play as one "K," and the journey begins as you hypnotize a patient in order to resolve some issue she is having.

The puzzles range from easy to extremely difficult, but every single one is incredibly entertaining.

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When you get stuck with a puzzle, then The Franz Kafka Videogame will provide you with two hints that both run on a separate timer. Not every timer for every puzzle has the same amount to tick of before the clue opens. It ranges from 1.30 minutes to over two minutes for some of the clues to appear. These are well worth the wait as some of it is almost as inventive as the puzzles - if not a bit tongue in the cheek.

I never once got bored with a puzzle or thought it repetitive. Every puzzle is either hilarious, mind-boggling, or just plain fun to solve. The variety is genius, the art masterful, and the mind behind it beautiful. I have collected some outstanding artwork while undergoing a few lessons in surrealistic puzzle solving.

The only negative I have against the game is that the ending didn't make any sense. It was as if the developer got so caught up in the puzzles that he lost track of the story. Who can blame him?

I also have no idea how I solved the last puzzle. Was it a stroke of luck? Did chance smile on me? I wish someone could tell me.

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"The variety is genius, the art masterful, and the mind behind it beautiful."

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