Behind The Frame: The Finest Scenery is just the latest painfully gorgeous new piece from Akupara Games, but this new handcrafted adventure hides more than just a pretty nifty picture in our review.
Out today, Behind The Frame is available on Mobile and PC, via Steam, and presents a very different indie experience than Akupara’s recent Grime. Mixing wonderful visuals, a show don’t tell tale, and a little point and click deduction, this title follows the work of an aspiring artist as she prepares her final masterpiece for gallery submission.
Opening up for the first time, the almost anime inspired character design is reminiscent of Studio Ghibli and is more than an utterly breath-taking opening. The vivid color of this hand drawn protagonist, and her works, strikes a very different visual tone to the deliberately downplayed etchings and muted background of the surrounding apartment. Color is a hugely important part of this adventure, driving many of the game’s central mechanics and tying players to the memories that they will slowly uncover.
Similarly, the delicate audio work by Ychain Wang and Sung-Yueh Chou crafts a sound that dances between the emotions of the central protagonist and the surroundings that they inhabit. I can’t help but feel the more whistful tones that accompany dragging me around an old Parisian avenue during a summer’s day. This lighter tone, much like the visuals, is juxtaposed against a more melancholy side of this soundtrack, introducing tunes that talk to the truths that players uncover throughout Behind The Frame.
It’s hard to talk much about the stories that make up this title without ruining the joy of uncovering them. They are, however, all deeply intertwined with the paintings that are strewn around the protagonist’s abode. Immediately after completing an initial paint by numbers task, players quickly find themselves falling into an intuitive point and click adventure. Immediately, this seems like it’s just the beginning of a hunt for more materials, unlocking boxes, and completing simple quests to step further forwards, but that’s not entirely true.
A series of strange events unfold, objects change, and even time seems a bit off as developer Silver Lining Studio drags players through a series of events without stopping to get into the exposition. Instead, the gorgeous artwork, wonderful music, and the story that winds through the heart of Behind The Frame takes centre stage. As things start to unravel, part of the charm is trying to figure out exactly what is going on without any other characters to fill in the exposition for you.
Behind The Frame is far from a normal adventure game. While titles like Hob or Rime are keen action titles with a story that unfolds in front of you, this sits closer to Gorogoa. Behind The Frame never pulls back until the very end and leaves just enough oil on the canvas for players to speculate about this artist, her work, and the old man that seems to sit in the apartment opposite. It’s not particularly long either. Again, like the aforementioned puzzler, it’s very linear with a short play time, but Behind The Frame is more about the wonderful way in which games can tell stories than how many heads will explode. This wonderful escape is available now on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and Steam Store.