Framed: Our Review

Apparently in the mid-twentieth century telephone lines were strong enough to support the weight of a grown man. Don't try this at home kids.

I was looking forward to playing Framed for weeks. I had a trip to take that involved a four hour plane ride and Framed – much like Device 6, Spider and Alto’s Adventure before it – would be the game to carry me through a long flight. Once I sat down, I popped in my ear buds and started the game’s opening sequence (a great strategy to avoid having to speak to other travelers as they sit down). I was immediately pulled into the game’s simple story, stylish graphics, and original gameplay. Unfortunately, before my plane reached cruising altitude, I had finished the entire game. Sure, it was a great little game, but at a cost of $5, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit cheated.

Hey save your bullets! Those cigarettes will kill him soon enough anyway!

Framed’s gameplay is original and addictive. In the game, you guide a character through a series of comic strip-style panels by rotating the panels to clear a path. In each section, your character runs into the panels in sequence and dashes into whatever obstacles are there. You have to scramble to reorient and reorganize the panels so that your protagonist avoids some enemies and gets the drop on others. Moving one panel may mean your hero runs up ladder to a balcony leading over some thugs rather than running directly into the thugs. Rotating a panel may lead your hero to turn left instead of right and get the drop on some gun-toting adversary.

Amazing a guy who smokes this much can run this much without being perpetually winded.

The graphics are really the standout feature of the game.  The animations are smooth and impressive on the small screen and the game’s noir-style maintains an air of mystery throughout.  I never knew what exactly was going on but I never had any real doubt about what I needed to do.  The game is pretty good at guiding you through the mechanics of each level and after a little trial-and-error, you’ll figure out how to get your character from one end of the screen to the next.  It is a little frustrating, of course, when you realize you’ve made a mistake and are forced to let the scene play out before you can reset the level (at least the Lemmings could self-destruct).

Rotate the panels to clear a path to sneak past the guards. If only Sam Fisher could do that.

Framed is a very creative game and the graphics are impressive. However, game’s short length and lack of replayability is disappointing. The puzzles don’t change or rearrange in any way (and this seems like a wasted opportunity, because it wouldn’t be that hard to randomize some of these). Once you’ve solved them, you’ve solved them. It’s kind of Portal’s Paradox all over again: it’s a great looking game with interesting puzzles, but once you know how to solve the puzzles it’s difficult to find a reason to play through again (especially without the warm, comforting presence of the Companion Cube).

Okay, let's get to our final score....

You'll have to uncover the mystery of the man with the silver porn-stasche

GRAPHICS: 90

The graphics of the game are pretty top notch. The animations are particularly fluid and amazing.  These are the kinds of graphics you'll want to show off to your friends.

GAMEPLAY: 80

The gameplay is very innovative but also pretty basic.  The game adds some twists to the gameplay but overall never strays too far from the original premise.  Puzzles can be complex but never get terribly frustrating.

REPLAYABILITY: 60

You'll want to show your friends the awesome graphics but - like all puzzle games - once you've beaten the game, there's little reason to play through a second time (which is a real shame given how brief the game is). 

OVERALL: 78

The game is very novel and beautiful, but the brevity of the gameplay makes this title hard to recommend.  If you see it on a discount, pick it up!  At full price, however, you may feel a little cheated when you wrap the game up in about an hour or two.

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