Loveshack Entertainment are the Melbourne based game development studio responsible for the FRAMED series of games. Originally releasing in 2014 for iOS and Android, FRAMED became a multi-award winning game and was touted as Hideo Kojima’s favourite game of the year. Now the game along with its sequel have been packed into a single collection and is being sold for PC and Nintendo Switch.
FRAMED and FRAMED 2 are certainly two of Australia’s more successful video game releases. I got my hands on the collection recently and can personally attest to their quality. The games can be described as a “noir-styled spy adventure “. Controlling the silhouetted character you move through an animated comic strip and watch as your fate plays out before you. You are then required to rearrange or alter that comic strip to change the course of events.
The game’s aesthetics are certainly very cool although it’s the clever design that left me impressed. Rearranging panels on an animated comic is such a simple yet brilliant idea. Once the game opens up a bit and introduces new mechanics you can quickly see how that simple idea can adapt into something quite complex. Puzzling is clever in the FRAMED games and it was surprising how quickly I found myself stumped by some of the more devious comic strips. Rotating panels within any given strip added to the sheer amount of potential panel combinations on offer, and I realised I couldn’t simply work my way through different options until it worked, I had to sit and think about every new strip.
The best puzzle games are the ones that really test your wits. The kind of game that makes you sit in quiet contemplation while you path out potential arrangements within your head. FRAMED has the added benefit of allowing you to test out those arrangements you have created at any moment without any repercussions. Watching as your spy gets caught by a guard or shot in the back is an expected result as you go back to the drawing board to start again, with a little more insight this time around. It’s a clever and simple concept that can be made infinitely more complicated with new mechanics, additional panels, or different scenarios.
Whilst the main draw for FRAMED Collection will be the puzzles, I definitely got a kick out of the narrative that was being told as well. Part of the game’s brilliant design is that narrative and puzzling is being married together seamlessly with both playing out at the same time. The narrative is basic but engaging. Part of the reason it is so engaging is because the story really is being told by the player. Every failure of the character or every success is a direct result of your comic strip arrangement. Even though there is only ever one path to progress, the huge variety of differing failure states and mini stories is impressive and entertaining to watch.
The collection of games is definitely something worth checking out, especially for those, like me, who live in Melbourne and want to support local talent. Whilst I’m playing this one on my PC, I can definitely see how taking the game portably on the Nintendo Switch would be the way to go. It’s an easy pick up and play title that will probably hold my attention for some weeks to come.