One of our most anticipated hands-on demos at GDC was for Framed, an upcoming mystery game with a completely unique gameplay mechanic. Instead of directly controlling your character as he uncovers dead bodies and tries to run from the police, you have to rearrange the panels of his comic-book environment to change the order of his actions.
The demo we received was very short– just five brief scenes, which took us about as many minutes to complete. In some of the scenes, we only had to switch two panels, while in others, there were three movable panels.
You start by hitting play on the panel in the upper-left corner, which triggers a smooth animation of your character’s actions for that page. On the first page, you’re walking towards a locked door in the second panel, while a potted plant with a small yellow key waits in the third panel. Switch the two panels, and instead of getting stuck at the locked door, your character is able to pick up the key, unlock the door, and move on to the next scene.
The next few scenes involved finding a body in the basement. After you discover the body, the police give chase and open fire, forcing you to rearrange the comic panels to defend yourself and escape. Each page was a simple exercise in trial-and-error: If the panels didn’t work in one sequence, there weren’t too many different combinations to try.
While we think that Framed has an incredible art style, and it plays unlike anything else we’ve seen, we’re worried that this adventure will be be too short to make a lasting impact. The developer, Love Shack Entertainment, eventually wants Framed to have 40-50 levels, lasting 90 minutes total. Like another well-animated iOS game, The Act, it seems that Framed will be short and sweet.