I can’t help but think of the TV series Mad Men’s brilliant opening credits while playing the Framed games, with those beautiful, clean contrasts of the absence of colour on simple, bright backgrounds. Framed 2 carries on the original’s signature art style to great effect, often depicting scenes which you would be happy to freeze and hang on the wall of a funky, Melbourne coffee shop.
The gameplay mechanics remain mostly the same, involving the sliding around of comic style panels to enact a successful chase sequence, with the touch interface of the Siri Remote enabling the experience nicely on Apple TV. New puzzle mechanics are introduced earlier in Framed 2, resulting in a more varied experience right from the get go. There are a couple of new puzzle mechanics that weren’t seen in the first game, and an increased focus on having to reuse panels to get a successful outcome. Some tricky sequences involve actually having to navigate not one, but two characters through a scene, and figuring out how they are going to help each other flee.
This emphasis on the male and female protagonists aiding each other, creates a nice sense of emotional investment in a game lacking any vocal cues or text.
Replay value has been added to Framed 2 via a series of collectible polaroids, some of which can only be obtained by failing a scene in a certain way. It’s a nice addition, as without it the game only takes an hour or two to complete, depending of course on how many attempts you need with each puzzle before that aaah moment arrives.
Musically there is more variety in Framed 2 than the original, although the instruments in the original somehow felt more real than in this follow up. The style itself though keeps nicely within the smoky, speakeasy noir of saxophone and sparse piano.
Overall Framed 2 feels tighter and more exact than Framed. The puzzles feel a little more logical, with nice visual clues if you pay attention. It feels as though the idea that was Framed has been distilled and matured into Framed 2 – just as a good sequel (or prequel) should feel.
The ending has a satisfying twist, much the same as the first in the series, and players that have puzzled their way through to the end credits will do well to sit through them. A surprise awaits on the other side that will make a lot of sense to those who’ve played the original.
Will this series become a trilogy, or does Australian studio Loveshack plan to stretch its creative talents into other gaming genres? Or perhaps even completely own this new niche carved out for itself and create other adventures within the style? Sci-fi and/or horror panel-sliding stories perhaps?
Either way, we look forward to following Loveshack’s progress, and being on the receiving end of its creative talents.
In A Nutshell:
Framed 2 provides a satisfying sequel experience that builds on the strengths of the original, producing a tighter, more logical puzzle experience, while also managing to tie the story neatly together between the first game and the second.