Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound: Rating:
Game Controls: Rating:
Replay Value: Rating:
FRAMED is a narrative-driven puzzle game in a pretty literal sense. Players rearrange the pieces of a story by moving around comic panels to create a way for the protagonists to keep moving the story along. Although it's not a particularly long experience, FRAMED is unique, engaging, and incredibly stylish, making it well worth checking out.
The game sets itself up a a crime story with some film noir sensibilities. Players take control of morally ambiguous characters as they slink their way across dark alleys and buildings in an effort to avoid the authorities and other obstacles. Although FRAMED presents a static-looking set of comic book panels through which the story plays out, players can actually rearrange these panels to determine how the scene goes. Essentially, this makes the game about changing what looks like a series of cutscenes into a story that drives the game action forward.
As the game moves forward it introduces additional mechanics beyond the base rearranging gimmick, making for a continually challenging and satisfying experience. Players can expect to discover panels that rotate and others that can be "refreshed" and used more than once in a set. Finally (without giving too much away), after players complete the narrative, replaying FRAMED also rewards them by switching some sections up in ways that keep things feeling fresh on subsequent runs.
More than the mechanics though, the thing that makes FRAMED such a pleasure to play is the way it moves, looks, and sounds. Although all of the action shows characters as silhouettes instead of being fully detailed, they are surprisingly expressive, extremely fluid in their movement, and engaging to watch move about the screen. Combine these awesome visuals with the appropriately jazzy soundtrack and FRAMED becomes a complete delight to the senses, even when stuck on a particular puzzle.
As for drawbacks, my main complaint with FRAMED is that sometimes certain sections take too long to play out. This means that when players run across a puzzle that seems too tough to wrap their minds around, they have to wait for each frame to move and play out before realizing they've messed up and have to try another permutation. Also, because of some of the occasional process-of-elimination-style puzzle solving, the plot can get a little lost in trying to figure out each individual puzzle.
However, these are relatively small complaints against FRAMED. The game is so beautiful and captures its specific aesthetic so well that it's extremely hard to put it down, even after completing it.