Review of FRAMED (Loveshack Entertainment)
So this will be a departure from my normal book review here, but I had to share this fantastic game I've been playing on my iPad. I love games like The Room (both 1 and 2 were fantastic!). I've reviewed The Room previously and loved how it's a series of deceptively simple-appearing boxes to be opened - a safe, a pyramid box, an octagonal box, for example - and how the overall game play was a little like those wonderful matryoshka dolls in which another smaller doll nests within the larger and so on. Don't get me started on how much I loved Device 6 in which the player interacts and becomes immersed in the narrative of the story and uses solutions to a series of puzzles to solve a mystery and, of course, escape the island. Now, I've found another devilishly clever game called Framed. Actually it was recommended to me by the same person who recommended The Room. (Thank you BTW.) If you are interested in intelligent but funny conversation and critiques about games of all kinds you should be listening to In Game Chat on Saturday afternoons from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. They're on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and here's a link to get more info: http://www.ingamechat.net.
And now on to Framed. Whereas Device 6 was like a mystery novella, Framed takes a noir-ish comic book approach to game play. The player rearranges panels or frames to alter the outcome of events. ('Change the order, Change the outcome') You're introduced to a mysterious silhouetted man wearing a fedora clutching a briefcase, an equally mysterious silhouetted woman in a bowler (maybe a cloche or a bowler cloche?) hat as well as an older limping man in a trench coat in hot pursuit of both, hoping to grab the briefcase from them. Along the journey are plenty of police and security personnel who also pursue or lay in wait along high-rise ledges, down fire escapes, into dark alleys, across the top of billboards, and from one train car to the next.
One thing I found unique about Framed is that the player controls how the storyboard plays out, not the characters in the game. The outcome is affected by how panels/frames are arranged. It is up to me to work out how Man in Fedora/Woman in Bowler gets past the police and escapes Trench-coat Limping Man. To do that, panels can be rearranged not only in a different order but some may also be turned vertically or horizontally. Additionally, there are also latter panels to be used more than once. What's in the briefcase actually turns out to be less important than getting Fedora Man and Bowler Woman to safety though the briefcase does change hands from Fedora Man to Bowler Woman and back again. I will say she seems to definitely have her own agenda at times, and Fedora Man is left in her dust. All of this unusual game play is enhanced by the jazzy soundtrack playing in the background and elegant, clean, and minimalist graphics. Plus there's a fun surprise when you work through the last, er, frame.
I did wish there was a way to watch the scenes in their entirety after you've solved each puzzle because the storyboards are very much like a mini-movie experience. It would have added a little extra to be able to play them all back-to-back to watch how the story unfolds. But, that's a small quibble because I really loved Framed and urge you to give it a try if you'd like to experience something different in game play. Framed has just the right amount of fun and challenge mixed in to give a very satisfying experience. And, thankfully, there's nary a bite of candy or angry fowl anywhere.
Developer: Loveshack Entertainment
requires iOS 7.0 or later