Happy Painting, My Friend
Art sits alone in its creative outpouring of expression. Mediums from centuries past tell tales to this day of men and women lost to the passage of time. Many mediums can bring that sense of life to not only the eyes of society, but their ears and hearts as well. Poetry, music, film, drawings, paintings: all windows into the emotions of the creator, expressing feelings felt within in the hopes the few who view it can share those same emotions whether in person or across the world.
For this aspiring artist, she guides her emotions through paint and canvas. Scattered pieces of personal memories to award winning details hold steady across the walls of her studio apartment. For now, colors of green and yellow and red comfort each other closely as they reveal the scenery of a vivid town’s summer day. Often taking a break for coffee and toast, she’ll pique her curiosity for her older neighbor, an artist himself, and his like-age cat. Taking refuge in her notebook and sketches of a life she’s curiously watched over, she reminisces about the past, the mysteries of the present next door, and the curiosity of her future as the emptiness of her canvas becomes enveloped with each selected color.
Gently mixing together Point & Click with Hidden Object and Puzzle-Mystery combines the foundation for Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery. Detailing small tasks like making breakfast and typing out requests for inclusions to art exhibits carry over to putting final touches on past paintings to unlock various memories that have since been forgotten. With each painting finished and memory re-awakened, more paints become available to finish her current project alongside little happenings to fill the days.
While her current painting leans more towards impressionism, Behind the Frame’s art direction plants itself firmly in the magical. Rivaling some AAA animated titles of recent years, scenery is packed with love and care as the studio apartment is lifelike yet cluttered, messy yet organized: where someone with fleeting ideas and sky high fixations would most certainly settle. Cutscenes are short but sweet, each one striking and vivid in its color design and direction and just begs for a short film to be made alongside this game because, I mean. Wow. I can’t say enough about it.
The musical score pulls its weight just as well. Cassette tapes of soft jazz and tight upbeat piano fill the room with delight and creativity, while the somber bass tones amidst rainstorms and fuller orchestral pieces imbue each emotional checkpoint with a kind of grace and comfort that really shows the developers took every angle to pack as much volume into each scene.
There’s not much that hasn’t been meticulously fine tuned and crafted masterfully to draw a perfect circle around this 75 minute experience. The puzzles are not easy enough to insult the player, but intriguing enough to elicit a pleasant response to completing. While the game may feel short, Behind the Frame doesn’t waste any time nor does it overstay its welcome. The only issue I had was the camera pans in a way that triggered a bit of motion sickness and caused me to take a break about 45 minutes in, but this could be solely on me and shouldn’t deter anyone from trying the game.
With the past year or two being a somber reminder of how fragile the world can be, it begs the mind to recollect, reflect, and rejoice the memories of good times that were had and the better times that could lay ahead. Behind the Frame takes these emotions and paints a commandingly emotional yet poignantly human tale of what was, what now is, and what we do with what could be.
A Steam code was independently purchased for review.