Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery is the first game from Taiwanese developer Silver Lining Studio. Released on Steam and mobile last year, it has collected its fair share of rewards and strong user reviews. With its launch on console this month, it gains an additional epilogue to play through, offering a new slant on the original story.
Smoothly combining animated interludes, 2D interactive scenes, and 360-degree viewing of 3D spaces, the rich, hand-drawn art describes a European town and the apartment-cum-studio of a young artist finishing off the final piece of a gallery submission. The original music and songs complete the mood upon pressing play on an old cassette player.
The gameplay is essentially escape-room-style, in that you will explore a space and work out what to manipulate to proceed. However, the puzzles are so light as to offer almost no resistance to the flow, and the visual and audio presentation are so bountiful that there is never a feeling of milking an environment completely dry before being permitted to see something new.
The interaction model is clearly designed with touch in mind. You will pick up pans to slide eggs onto plates, complete the artist’s paintings with your finger, and press buttons on the tape machine. While these sound like things you could achieve with a button-press, their brevity and clarity make them engaging. Turning the view in the 360-degree scenes is probably the only thing that perhaps works marginally better with a thumbstick, but otherwise, this is a game that is a pleasure to play on the touchscreen and, unfortunately, a relative slog to play with a controller.
It’s certainly not unplayable or lacking in entertainment value when on the big screen, but we stuck firmly to handheld play on an OLED touchscreen and that’s clearly the way to go. And that is a fact you may find to be a bit of a sticking point. Behind the Frame has been available for 10 months on mobile devices, so you almost certainly own another device that can play it, just with a different size and quality of screen. At the time of writing, you will pay about three times as much for the Switch version as for mobile. Even the new epilogue added for the console release has been added for free in an update to the original app.
Behind the Frame’s mobile roots show, and the Switch’s touchscreen comes into its own. The story didn’t exactly keep us guessing, but went to an interesting place. The graphical art and music are the stars, and the sub-2-hour playtime means they stay fresh to the last. Putting the length and price on one side so you can factor them in for yourself, we really rate the experience here as a piece of art worth getting into.