Game review on iOS
Clinton Raethel / Tue 4th Jul 2017
82 views / 1 bite
OVERVIEW Framed is a stunningly beautiful puzzler that engages you from start to finish. With its beautiful design and elegant mechanics, this is a game that needs to be played to truly appreciate its brilliance.
STORYLINE Set in the 'noire-esque' period, Framed tells a story of two characters on the run. We don't know who they are or what they've done, but we do know they have a briefcase that everyone wants - it's up to you to make sure they escape in one piece.
The easiest way to describe the gameplay is to call it an interactive comic. Each page begins with an automated element followed by the character being caught or shot due to the order of the subsequent frames. By re-arranging the panels, you change how the character moves through the environment, with the goal of finishing the page in one piece.
This is where Framed really shines. Understanding what to do involves simple logic, but the manner in which it's executed is simply sublime. Each panel is fully animated, and what happens in that panel depends on where it's placed. One panel may have the character entering from the top floor, but put a panel before it with a set of stairs and they will now enter from the bottom.
Some puzzles involve two or three frames, others are much larger. As the game progresses you're introduced to the concepts of pinned panels, rotating panels and panels that can be re-used. Some involve bigger panels that change the order in which the character moves through the comic depending entirely on how they're orientated.
The real beauty is that the difficulty is always just right. You feel genuinely rewarded each time you complete a scene, and you do so without wanting to throw your phone down the toilet.
GRAPHICS Make no mistake, Framed is beautiful. Completely hand drawn, characters are mere silhouettes that contrast well against a simple yet detailed background. The animations are the real highlight - I never thought it would be possible to make someone move so smoothly. And don't even get me started on the flowing cloaks...
AUDIO The minimalistic audio is expertly crafted to enhance the experience. Sound effects exist only to highlight key events such as a gunshot or the lighting of a cigarette, but that's it. This allows the soundtrack to take center stage: a smooth, swanky low-key jazz track that really does place you in the game. You will want to play this with the sound on.
VERDICT Framed has to be one of the best experiences I've had on a mobile device to date. To have top-notch graphics and sound design backed up with incredibly clever puzzles and elegant gameplay, developer Loveshack have created something truly special. It is short at just over one hour to finish, and it certainly isn't cheap ($5.99 AUD on the app store), but I cannot recommend it enough. Framed 2 has just been released too, so if you need me, you know where to find me *puts on fedora*.