“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” – Vincent Van Gogh
Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery sees players take control of the paintbrush in order to solve a variety of puzzles and help an aspiring artist create their masterpiece. As the paintings start to come together an emotional tale of chance and artistry is slowly revealed.
Developer: Silver Lining Studio
Released: 25th August 2021
Price: £5.49 – £10.29
This game is being reviewed as part of the Indie Game Collective (IGC) showcase.
The game uses mouse-only controls and is pretty intuitive to navigate. It begins with a spot of painting, which has quite a tactile mechanic and involves dragging the mouse across the areas to be filled with colour. The player is then confronted with a to-do list consisting of music, breakfast, resume, coffee and painting that will become the basis for each day/chapter. There are also opportunities to explore the protagonist’s apartment and make sketches of her neighbour and his cat!
In order to get new paint colours to finish the paintings, and to gradually reveal the story, a different series of puzzles needs to be solved each day. The logic-based and escape room style conundrums will provide a clue to the next section of the puzzle with some narrative exposition and so on until the new paint tube is acquired and the artwork can be continued. Overall, the gameplay is both satisfying and rewarding without posing too much of a challenge.
Behind the Frame plays out over six chapters and focuses on the budding artist and an old man that lives next door to her. As the player guides the protagonist through her everyday tasks, the art that surrounds her begins to tell an unexpected story. There is no voice acting but this does not detract from the experience as the narrative is delivered as much visually as it is through text. As the game is fairly short, it is difficult to discuss the story without spoilers, however, it is surprisingly moving and delivered with both charm and impact.
Behind the Frame’s art style is a lovely mix of soft painterly backgrounds with an anime cartoon style for the characters and interactable objects. The environments are beautifully crafted using soft colour pallets and evocative lighting and really help to immerse the player in the different scenes.
One of the daily tasks involves playing music from a series of cassette tapes meaning that most of the soundtrack is diegetic. Primarily using strings and piano with a bit of woodwind, the songs vary from jazzy swing numbers to more melancholy tunes and always fit the visuals and narrative perfectly. The music is absolutely one of the highlights of the experience and it is clear why the game recommends the use of headphones.
Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery is a unique and relaxing game that mixes painting and puzzles to great effect. The styling and gameplay blend seamlessly and the narrative is engaging with an unexpected twist. If you are looking for an immersive and emotive interactive fiction with a ton of artistic flair, I highly recommend this title.