Behind the Frame is a new narrative game from developer Silver Lining Studio and publisher Akupara Games that is one of the shortest and sweetest little experiences I’ve had in quite some time. Emphasis on “short" as it’s important to know that this likely won’t take you more than an hour or two at most to play through. Some folks look for more “bang for their buck" in their games, and some are content with a shorter experience as long as it’s one that can really affect you and stick with you long after the game is over. Behind the Frame is definitely for folks in that latter camp.
The story follows a young aspiring artist as she sits in her apartment painting and pondering the life stories of the elderly man and his cat who lives in the apartment just adjacent to her. The old man also happens to be a painter, but no matter how loudly the young woman yells over at him he just pays her absolutely no mind. She doesn’t let that deter her curiosity, however, and it isn’t long before she starts noticing that many of the paintings in the man’s apartment look oddly familiar…
This isn’t the type of story you can talk about much more without spoiling things. As for the gameplay, it’s definitely on the lighter side but really charming. You’ll act out the young woman’s daily routine–cook breakfast, make the coffee, play some inspiring tunes on your little boombox–and you’ll also simulate her artistic endeavors like painting and sketching. Those feel really good to act out on the touchscreen. Then you’ll inspect various items and areas in her apartment, similar to a point-and-click adventure, and that will lead to some light puzzling.
There is nothing in Behind the Frame that will challenge your brain too much, but all the interactive elements are really whimsical and fun anyway, and with a game like this the story and characters really are the focus over everything else. It reminds me of Old Man’s Journey in a lot of ways, so if you’re familiar with that game and enjoy these short but potent narrative experiences, I can wholeheartedly recommend Behind the Frame. It is an incredibly sweet and endearing tale that, while short, will really sit with me for a long time to come.