The popularity of the Switch has brought on two major things. The delightful Nintendo franchises to many for the first time, or first time in a while, and mobile ports. So…many…mobile ports. Framed Collection is a port of two mobile games, but before you tune out, these ones are worth seeing.
Framed Collection consist of Framed 1 and 2 which are both games originating on mobile. Their simplicity in interaction and art directions show how much of a perfect fit they would have been on that platform.
Framed and Framed 2 are first and foremost puzzle games, which shows you a series of comic panels. You need to arrange them, to ensure that the events take place in the correct way. This is generally based around a character moving from frame to frame, and how they leave one frame, determines how they enter the next frame.
This varies from the path they are on, to the ladder they are climbing or descending, the platform they are in, or objects they have picked up. Frames are regularly filled with places the character can fall, police that line you up in their sights, or dead ends that have a detective catch you. Unlocking a door may require getting a key from travelling through another frame, breaking boards on a window isn’t possible without an axe or getting past a policeman requires going through another frame to change directions so you can sneak behind him.
This is what makes the game is so dang clever. For the first while, it is lining up directions to make sure your character avoids being seen, but as the game progresses it gives more complicated way to interact, and to interpret the puzzles.
This is at its most complicated when panels become reusable. After you kick of the puzzle, initially you must watch it play out, but this gets flipped on its head as some panels become reusable, meaning you get a character to go through it a second time. Usually this is because their initial travel changes the panels contents in some way, and their second or third visit allows them to get what is needed to complete the stage.
Then there is the use of direction. With longer panels, you can switch them, so they face a different direction, such as moving it from side on to upwards. This changes the direction the puzzle goes because it may not run from left to right, because the long vertical frame works as a line break. Some simple puzzles can be hard when you don’t fully consider your options here. Proven by an embarrassing 20 minutes I spent on one page.
The puzzles are short regularly consisting of five to ten panels, which makes the solution always feel within reach, and makes these creative reusing of panels so crucial to keep the game engaging. Though it is worth noting the game isn’t long. I beat both games in five hours and have heard smarter cookies do it in half that time. It’s a perfect length for a game like this, but it is worth noting.
The art style is what makes the game truly gorgeous and playable. It has a blocky and shadowy noire style. Characters are all black with white accents, or clothes, and the surroundings are simple and bold. These are both gorgeous to look at, but also makes the puzzles easier to comprehend, as you don’t need to figure out what some details in a background may or may not be.
If the length isn’t a deterrent for you, then Framed Collection is a must buy for your Switch. It’s gorgeous, clever, and so unique that you’d be doing yourself a disservice to not check it out. It isn’t hard to see my Hideo Kojima named the first game his GOTY many years ago.