Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery is both art in videogames and a videogame about art. A relaxing adventure about a young painter with the goal of achieving her masterpiece, this turns out to be an emotional ride with many layers and surprises before the unexpected conclusion. Sadly, the whole journey is too short and unless you get stuck on a particular puzzle, it’s over in a couple of hours, DLC included.
The Painting of a Lifetime
What begins as a routine day in the life of this yet unnamed aspiring artist ends up as a strange, often surreal undertaking. Realized in first-person but without any sort of movement apart from screen rotation and examination, Behind the Frame is about having a sense of observation and discovering the clues in the right order. The initial days may feel repetitive, as the girl cooks the same breakfast and makes coffee with the precision of a factory robot before each new paintbrush stroke, but thankfully the adventure is going to expand into other territories when a certain neighbor and his feisty and chubby cat come into play.
The adventure is interspersed with hand-drawn cutscenes worthy of a Studio Ghibli movie, the kind that grab your attention and suddenly cut you off due to their briefness, leaving you excitingly waiting for the next one. With the power of the soothing music, especially the piano ones, you get the perfect combination of visuals and audio that triggers emotions and immerses you in the story.
Most of the puzzles revolve around finding the right colors for the paintings and finishing them, often by following some clues scattered around the house or found in your diary. It was to be expected that a painter would always have the basic paints available, but most of them are hidden in the weirdest places that you must unlock via different means, including putting the final touch to another painting. Other puzzles are more inventive, from deciphering computer passwords to door locks, but most of the game is very friendly even if it occasionally asks for some cunning.
With nothing to rush the player or any sort of timed challenge, Behind the Frame is the kind of easygoing experience that is akin to watching a movie. The story is charming, and when you finish the first point of view, there’s the option to start an alternate campaign that will give you another perspective on the whole story, putting things into context.
Short and Emotional Art
Behindthe Frame is very emotional, pulling at the heartstrings but never in any way that might feel cheap or convoluted. It all ties up nicely while still leaving some room for questions, and it’s all in good taste. There’s some repetition to the process and it doesn’t really take you places expect for your mind, ending up as the retelling of a story that we are piecing together.
Sweet and touching games are a terrific thing if you are in the right mindset, but there’s not much gameplay here to speak of. With a few nice brain teasers, wonderful visuals, and a delightful soundtrack, Behind the Frame ends up as a very short game that may make you question the admission price, but you shouldn’t regret it. Just like the main character, make yourself a cup of coffee, sit down comfortably, and let the brush strokes guide you.
- Beautiful graphics and hand-drawn animations
- A delightful soundtrack
- Lovely story with two sides to it
- Less than two hours to finish both stories
- Gameplay is simple and repetitive