A splash of colour, a slice of bread, and a little bit of sadness - all these make for an intriguing game, to say the least, and Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery doesn’t disappoint. From the gorgeous artwork reminiscent of Studio Ghibli to the cosy soundtrack I wouldn’t mind having on loop all day long, the puzzle-slash-interactive fiction is a breath of fresh air in an often suffocating world.
The story of Behind the FrameTo talk about Behind the Frame without spoiling its ending is a bit of a challenge, as it’s really best enjoyed when you’ve had the chance to digest the narrative as a whole. Still, what I can tell you is that it’s all about art, passion, and a whole lot of love. You play as an aspiring artist trying to piece together a puzzling painting as part of her submission to an art gallery, but, as with real life, completing a work of art isn’t as straightforward as it seems.
You’ll have to solve intuitive point-and-click style puzzles, sketch a grumpy old neighbor who inspires you a little bit, and handle a pesky feline furball who seems adamant to leave pawprints all over your studio.
Behind the Frame visuals and gameplaySpeaking of your studio, you’ll get to interact with beautiful elements in the hand-drawn environment around you. Every single scene is just picture perfect - I almost wanted to capture every moment and frame them up in my room, or set them as my tablet’s wallpaper, at the very least. Each panoramic view is picturesque enough to make you want to take a moment or two just ogling at the scenery, and the animations of the cut scenes themselves are definitely eye-candy.
Of course, when you top it off with a totally chill, totally low-key soundtrack serenading you in the background, it’ll make you yearn for a cup of coffee, a good book, and a cosy corner to snuggle into on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
That said, while staying in one place in the game forever does sound inviting, progressing through the game is a must - the engaging narrative will prompt you to charge forward just because what happens next is too intriguing to pass up. There’s a bit of a Groundhog Day-esque element in the first few chapters, but things escalate as you uncover more of the past - and the truth - of the world around you.
It’s short but sweet, and if there’s one complaint I have with it is that it’s probably too short - and that’s an issue only because I would have liked to stay in that surreal world a bit longer. There are no replayability options here, but it’s worth going through the chapters again just to marvel at the visuals. The imagery for each chapter is spot-on too - the game does its best to engage all the senses apart from just what you can see. The morning breeze, the pitter-patter of the rain on your window sill, the coffee brewing on the countertop, the tactile scratching of your pen on paper - all these contribute to the feels (and yes, there are a lot of feels).
Behind the Frame: What’s the verdict?Overall, Behind the Frame is a relaxing experience you’ll likely want to dive into when you’re snuggled up in bed after a long and tiring day at work. Puzzles are intuitive and relatively easy, adding to the low-pressure vibe of the chill game. You don’t need to be a master painter or an art buff, either. You simply have to tap away at the images and breeze through the puzzles - no frustrating ragequits needed.
The game is a quick but meaningful ride at just an hour for all six chapters, but the last scene will definitely resonate with you long after the credits roll. It’s one of those stories that leave you with a bit of an existential crisis when it ends, and honestly, those kinds of games are the best. Suffice it to say that it broke my heart in so many different ways then stitched it back up again.