Review: Framed, by Loveshack (universal binary)
Framed, by Loveshack (universal binary)
• Cool “film noir” feel
• Interesting combination of puzzler and comic book
• Nice ambient music and feel to the game
• Limited help or hint options
• Limited control/settings
Comic book meets film noir meets puzzler – that is sort of the theme behind the game “Framed”. In short, you are following along on some sort of caper (Bank heist? Espionage? It is not quite clear) as you help shadowy figures try to escape the clutches of the police and evade each other, getting away with a mysterious briefcase.
Figure 1: A mysterious suitcase, shadowy figures, running from the law - welcome to the "film noir" game "Framed"
The game is very simple. You are presented with screen consisting of various tiles (think a comic book page). If you hit the play button, the shadowy figure (initially a male, but it changes depending on which character has the briefcase) moves through each panel, trying to get to the “exit” in the end. Without making any changes, you will run into some sort of obstacle (police, impassable road block, enemy agent, etc.) that prevents you from reaching the final frame. You play by moving the frames around to encounter them in different orders.
Figure 2. Move tiles around in the comic book style layout to change the action, change the outcome of the story (hint - avoid being captured)
For example, perhaps there is a jump that is too wide to make. You might see something as simple as a fire ax in one of the frames – but in the correct order, you can use that ax to fashion a method to jump over the gap. You manipulate frames by sliding tiles around or by rotating tiles that are “pinned” in place. In some cases, you just move two tiles of a large screen to move the action along (think of them as cut scenes). In others, moving the tiles prevents you from being captured, killed, or losing the briefcase. The action spans roof tops, construction sites, trains, alley ways, and a wide range of other locations.
Figure 3. Sometimes subtle differences are the key - notice the cracked tile in the 2nd to last frame? If I was on that level, I would have fallen to my death!
There are limited “help” options in the game. While the game play is very straightforward, there were times I wish there was a little more instruction. At one point, for example, you need to move the tiles a second time while the action is unfolding – it took me a long time to figure that out. In addition, there are no real settings to adjust. You can reset the action to in the iPhone settings (not through the game itself). The only “setting” you have within the game is a replay button, to resent the page in case you don’t make it to the end. It would be nice to be able to go back and view (or replay) previous scenes. One feature I sorely missed was some sort of “fast forward” option – when I had a page with about 9 tiles/scenes on it, and only shift the last two, I still had to wait for the entire scene to replay to determine if I made the correct move.
Figure 4. In addition to sliding tiles, some times (on a pin) are rotated - like rotating the poison to pour into the coffee cup.
The “atmosphere” of the game is great. I strongly recommend that you play with the volume up (or with headphones) as the jazzy film noir music really enhances the mood. Every scene is with muted colors (dark pastels and blues usually) and all figures are in silhouette (with distinctive features highlighted in white – such as a hat, cigarette, tie, guns, etc.). One thing that is a little humorous – the police in this game must be the most oblivious ever – unless the character is right in front of them, the police are blind to any actions going on around them, even if it is literally a door opening inches behind them and someone sneaking through.
Figure 5. Cut scenes, where you still have to change the action, along with great music and well designed theme add to the movie feel.
All in all, this is an enjoyable quick puzzler game. Combining great mood with a fun puzzle twist, you can play the game for long stretches or small bits at a time (for me, I would play for about 10 minutes at a time). While there are limited settings or help options, the game has a solid design, enhanced through good mood music and a gritty film noir atmosphere. At $4.99 for a universal binary, the game is worth the cost. Four out and a half out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. All opinions expressed in this review are precisely that – opinions. You may agree or disagree. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.