Framed's central idea is a delight. You're rearranging the panels of an animated comic to lead a scarpering crook across a digital page.
It adds new ideas as you work your way through its narrative, letting you twist panels and reuse frames. By the end you're frantically switching things around, trying to make sure you don't take a bullet to the chest.
And it does it all without a word. You're left to figure things out for yourself, poking and prodding at the small playground to find out what does what.
It makes for an incredibly entertaining, if a little brief, experience. It's a puzzle game with an engaging story that doesn't feel like anything else on the App Store.
Breaking the first wall
Things start off simple. You drag frames around and put them in the order you think is going to work. You need to sneak past guards, edge along ledges, and keep one step ahead of your dogged pursuers.
The deeper you get into the game, the more it plays around with these ideas. One section sees you essentially running through a maze. There are guards at every corner, and you need to create a path to get past them.
In another you need to hit a switch to turn off the lights, sneak past some now blind policemen, then rearrange everything a second time to hit the switch again and power up the door you need to use to escape.
Each one of the pages has its own eureka moment. Some small and barely noticeable, others grand and often accompanied by a smug smile.
Working things out is the order of the day, and your successes are all the greater because you're left on your own to achieve them.
No, not that way
There's a delicious noir feel to proceedings. Everything's trench coats and Trilbys, mysterious briefcases and thick patches of colour. Cigarettes spark in the gloom, and no one is who they seem to be.
On top of that there's a surprising pace to the game. You're always running, always darting out of the shadows to the next safe port of call. Failure only ever resets your progress across a single page, letting you jump straight back into figuring out the challenge.
And while it reuses some of its ideas, the game never feels repetitive. It switches things around quickly, and isn't afraid to twist the outcomes so what you expect to work doesn't quite come off.
Failures are almost worth it to see all of the wonderful animations the game has to offer. One in particular, that sees you falling off a roof thanks to a pile of logs, is hilarious.
Framed isn't the longest game, but it doesn't outstay its welcome either. It's less about the challenge and more about experiencing the brilliantly simple idea that lies at the heart of everything it does.
This is about as fresh a puzzler as you're likely to find on the App Store. It brims with confidence and swagger, and will have you transfixed from the first swipe to the last.