Framed [$3.99] feels like the first half of what should be a really good game. It's a title with a great premise: rearranging comic book panels both in order and rotation so that the protagonist in the scene makes it to the end without getting detected by cops or falling to their doom. The cops in the world of Framed were not the academy's best and brightest students, as they don't even turn around for the protagonist running through doors right behind them. "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" is the motto of the Framed Police Department, but good for the characters in this game, all trying to get control of a mysterious briefcase.

Framed 4

The concept is really cool to play around with, and invites some clever puzzle-solving. The game plays with the way that comic book panel layouts work, meaning that swapping two panels may cause the way that the protagonist runs through them to be different because they're running a different direction now. So, the puzzles become about spatial awareness, and figuring how to deal with the way that temporality changes as the puzzle pieces do. Odds are, you've played nothing like it.

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The problem with this ingenious concept is that it never feels like it's quite used to its full potential. The best moments are when the game allows for the rearranging of narrative elements to cleverly impact the proceedings, like early on when it's possible to move an event with jumping over a table around to block bullets. The moments like this are the game at its best. The game uses spatial puzzles as well, where ladders, steps, and pathways can be moved and rotated in order to get to safety. But these form the bulk of the game's puzzles, and their novelty wears thin after a short while. It's not that they aren't designed well, it just feels like the trick of playing with comic panel continuity has been made.

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As well, the sections where panels can be rearranged while the scene is going on have some novelty of their own but don't make sense. For example, there's one scene where a luggage rack can be knocked down to stun a passing guard, and then through rearranging panels, can be returned to, in order to get the key necessary to progress. This is all fine and dandy but rearranging panels properly feels way too clumsy, and it kind of goes against the comic book nature of the proceedings, to instead have it so that the order can be rearranged.

Framed 1

I suppose the padding of the game's length and addition of variety is welcome, but it was a poor addition to the game. The story also lacks any dialogue whatsoever, which seems clever enough, but it gets a bit confusing after a while to follow the narrative. This may be intentional, though. But also, the shifting nature of who the player is controlling doesn't help with the clarity of the narrative, as sometimes a supposed villain is being guided by the player, and it doesn't quite make sense as to why. There's a big twist in the game, and it serves more as an element of confusion than a big revelatory plot twist. Even the music winds up being repetitive and samey-sounding over time.

It's all a shame because the ideas here are top-notch, but they never quite come together to make a top-notch game. Given the brevity and lack of progression in the concept, this really does feel like half of a larger whole stretched out to fill one game, and it's sad because Framed oozes with promise but is ultimately a letdown.

TouchArcade Rating

  • tomj315

    I agree. I have waited for this game since the end of 2013 and it's just sad

  • orangecan

    I can agree with all the criticisms levelled at it but I did really enjoy it I've got to admit.

    • tomj315

      I have really enjoyed it, it's just it doesn't really have what to enjoy. Ten minutes of gaming and you're done.

  • PoloBaquerizoH

    Excellent review!

  • Amin

    Great graphics, unique style, congrats to developers!

  • macplash

    ..and reviews like these made me limit my visits to TA forums only.

  • Bliquid

    Hideo Kojima said this was his GotY.

  • InkyTheGhost

    Gotta disagree, I thought this was extremely well done. It was beautiful, the puzzles progressed seamlessly, and I rather prefer games that aren't really long. I like enjoying a game, deleting it, and moving on. This platform is kind of perfect for that type of game.

  • PoloBaquerizoH

    Much more was expected from this game

  • RamazUltra

    I called it. That this game was going to get a Lower score than candy crush. Bullshit

    • DoctorFedora

      But… have you actually played it? It really doesn't live up to the tremendous potential of the basic conceit.

  • lowaaa

    Gotta disagree too. Also, this review feels like it is based off what he expected the game to be rather than what the game was, which is a real shame because this game is amazing. I'm curious if this review is an outlier, or if its overly nitpicky due to the hype and recognition?

  • PoloBaquerizoH

    Games can be truly originals" but that doesn't means it should have 5 stars.

  • DoctorFedora

    The concept the game is built on is much better than the game itself. For some reason, people seem more willing to forgive video games for not living up to their premise's promise than, say, movies.

  • sickbigbrother

    Loved the game but it was way too short. And too easy for the most part.

    Even though five bucks aren't a fortune, it's in the higher price segment of mobile gaming and should provide you with more than an hour of gameplay (especially if there's no replay value at all).

  • ToastyKen

    I totally agree with this review. I was really looking forward to the game, but far too many of the puzzles are just basic spatial ordering; too few involve actual environmental interaction. I actually liked the real-time portions even if they didn't make sense, but again I felt like I never had to think enough. Maybe the problem is that you can't have too many panels, but with too few panels there's only so much you can do.

    I think if more puzzles involved the environment though, they would've been interesting enough on their own without needing too many permutations.

    Also I'm completely confused by the ending. :

FRAMED Reviewed by Carter Dotson on . Rating: 3