Thursday, May 17

Review: FRAMED Collection [Nintendo Switch eShop]


While the Switch has been great for all sorts of genres that hard core fans love, it has also turned into a home for some terrific puzzle games as well. With its versatility, allowing you to play in either docked mode with a controller, or in handheld with a touchscreen, it also may be the perfect platform for great puzzle options from any space. FRAMED Collection is a fabulous example of a unique idea paired with an amazingly cool art style to deliver a puzzle experience that works well on Switch no matter how you choose to play.


In both iterations of FRAMED you’ll play the part of basically two different shady spy types, a male and a female, who are trying to get by the cops through whatever means necessary. It’s impossible not to immediately point out the game’s distinct and classic noir look paired with a comic book-ish panel art style then complemented by a pretty well spot-on jazz soundtrack. The game oozes style in every panel and it simply looks incredible in handheld mode on the Switch, which is probably the preferred way to play as well using the touchscreen since that offers the most intuitive and easy way to control the action.


Essentially on each “page” there will always be a number of panels that, by default, won’t work out quite the way you’d like for your shady pair. The trick is then to rearrange the panels in a way that will allow them a means of escape. Early on this tends to be pretty straightforward with you simply needing to plot out a path and avoid the cops. However, as the games progress every few levels new elements get introduced that continue to up the ante. Some panels will rotate, allowing you to change a stairway from up to down. Larger panels that rotate have an even more drastic effect, completely altering the layout of the panels on the page, and essentially creating a new flow. Further complicating things, you’ll eventually be able to move panels mid-flow, with some puzzles requiring you to return to a panel more than once, usually because you’ve altered something about it the first time through. For the most part no two “pages” alike and thankfully even when you fail it can sometimes be a bit entertaining to watch things play out as you’re captured through any number of circumstances.


Probably my only real complaint is that sometimes the game bends the rules a bit too much by essentially constraining your choices at times. You will sometimes see a solution that is possible but you’ll be prevented from moving certain frames into certain positions or swapping with one another. I would imagine this better guarantees a more consistent level of challenge, and prevents there from being “cheap” solutions at times, but in some of the tougher puzzles this limitation can be frustrating since you can see a solution that just won’t be allowed. While the sequel starts out roughly building on where the first one left off, and exhibits some additional creative flairs, playing them in close succession makes them feel roughly like one continuous game, though I suppose that may be a compliment as well.


Overall, even on a system that has a great selection of casual and puzzle games FRAMED Collection absolutely stands out as something special. At all levels from its presentation to its simple and intuitive controls to its consistent creativity it’s an experience well worth checking out. Throw in the fact that it is launching with a very reasonable asking price and it is effortless to recommend it as one of the best games of its kind on the system.

Score: 9

Pros:
  • Looks and sounds fantastic
  • Control is perfect with the touchscreen and excellent with a JoyCon
  • Absolutely a unique and creative puzzle gaming experience

Cons:
  • Each of the individual games can probably be finished in a little more than hour, depending on how quick you are
  • Some puzzles have constraints that can be frustrating