App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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When a game comes along with a unique gimmick, it's always interesting to see how developers deal with the prospect of making a sequel. Will they make clever iterations on their trick, just give you more of the same, or ditch it it entirely for something new? In the case of FRAMED 2, Loveshack provides players simply with more of the same from the original FRAMED, which is a little disappointing, though the game is still pretty great.
The original FRAMED was a puzzle game where players rearranged comic panels to play out a scene in its proper order. The exact same is true here with FRAMED 2, though the setting has moved to an Asian country of some sort.
In this game, players take control of a man who has recently arrived to the country carrying a briefcase that must be delivered to a client. Much like the original game, this is presented using silhouetted characters and a smoky jazz soundtrack, giving the whole affair a noir-inspired feel.
Puzzles in FRAMED 2 start out easy enough, with you rearranging a 2-3 panels to make sure your character has an unimpeded way forward. You may, for instance, want to make it so your character has an alternate path over a shaky bit of pier by allowing him to get off it before reaching that section by moving a junction panel ahead of the precarious one.
As things escalate in FRAMED 2, things get far more complicated. There are certain panels that can rotate or even be inserted back into your ongoing scene after they've already been used. These tricks are used to pull off all sorts of complicated scenarios, like the climbing of a clock tower and sneaking through a warehouse undetected. The sheer variety of these scenes and the ways to solve them is really the appeal here. It's largely the same as the first game, but it's a formula that still mostly works.
As neat as this kind of puzzle design sounds, it's all stuff that was in the original FRAMED. There may be a little more ambition when it comes to the length of its puzzles and its storytelling, but beyond that, the game looks and plays almost exactly the same as the first.
As a result, the problems with the first game just stand out all the more. Particularly toward the end of the game, some panel sequences get so long that they just feel immediately tedious. A lot of this has to do with the fact that it's hard to tell how any given panel will play out in a certain sequence. You can make some predictions based on colors and patterns, but there are also times where FRAMED 2 resolves entire scenes in ways you couldn't predict without some extensive experimentation. While experimenting to solve puzzles isn't inherently a bad thing, watching scenes repeatedly play out so slowly just to find a new way to fail can grow frustrating quickly.
The bottom line
I don't dislike FRAMED 2, but it is one of those sequels that seems just like “more” of a previous game rather than something that pushes the core ideas of a franchise forward. While there are a few moments where this sequel tries to do some new stuff, a lot of it feels like too little, too late. If you liked the first FRAMED and want more of it, FRAMED 2 is great, but if you were looking for something more than that, you might be a bit disappointed.