September 24, 2021


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Behind the Frame is a Chill Ghibli-inspired adventure game – Marseille News

Photo from behind the frame of Silver Lining Studio

Photo: Silver Lining Studio

Look around you wherever you are and find the closest person. Perhaps they are in a window in a neighboring house; Maybe they’re walking down the street looking at their phones. What life did these people live? What stories are hidden inside?

That’s the simple premise of Behind The Frame: The Fest Scenery, an hour-long narrative adventure from Taiwanese developers Silver Lining Studio. It was shown during the Day of the Devs show at E3 this year, and last week at Gamescom, the game launched on Steam, iOS, and Android.

Photo of the article titled A Chill, Ghibli-Like Adventure Game Set in New York

Screen capture: Silver Lining Studio / Kotaku Australia

You play as an artist trying to complete a submission to a gallery in New York City. The focus is on the present, focusing on brush strokes and soft music playing the lo-fi café in the background.

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The process consists of a set of daily rituals: brewing coffee, eating eggs and toast for breakfast, and slowly discovering where you left the various tubes of paint in your apartment. These are all missions that are usually hidden by some light puzzle, but behind The Frame is not a daunting adventure. Instead, it’s a Ghibli-inspired storytelling adventure, complemented by beautifully animated cut scenes as you progress through the chapters.

For the most part, most of your major progress is related to an elderly neighbor who lives in an apartment across the street. As you sit and sip your fresh coffee, you watch him from the window, he and his cat, both smiling and trying to say hello. He ignores you, of course, and so Behind The Frame becomes an exercise in looking at his work, charting what he’s doing, and questioning what kind of life he’s lived.

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There is not much drawing or painting in the game, although the animation is satisfying; Especially if you’re playing on an iPad with access to an Apple Pencil. As such, Behind The Frame is better viewed as an interactive story than a true point-and-click adventure. It’s the kind of thing that’s exceptionally enjoyed on the sofa via a tablet or phone with headphones on, or on a computer with blasting speakers and beautiful red glass. (I first tried playing Behind The Frame through Steam Link and Nvidia Shield, but it’s not a game designed around console support, and the lack of compatibility turned out to be very frustrating.)

It’s a shame that there is no more mechanic connection with art, as the drawing and painting mechanics are fun to play. But it’s also a short story at its core, and most people will take just over an hour. Everything in the game is drawn by hand. Besides the music and magic, it has a quality that reminds me of playing in Florence – although Behind The Frame doesn’t have a deep Florentine melancholy.

Image of the article titled A Chill, a Ghibli-style adventure game set in New York City

Screen capture: Silver Lining Studio / Kotaku Australia

It’s very easy to see The Frame’s major twist. So, if there are serious flaws in Behind The Frame, it’s the inability to explore its central idea very deeply. But in the same way that you might like a Ghibli movie like Howl’s Moving Castle, even though My Neighbor Totoro, Porco Rosso, or Princess Mononoke are probably great movies, Taiwanese indie is a good time.

Enjoying it on mobiles or iPads is probably better than enjoying it on PCs, just because the cost-benefit ratio is a bit better and you don’t lose any of the experience. With Behind The Frame, noise canceling headphones, cookies, tea or coffee and maybe a nice blanket: it’s a really great way to unwind in the afternoon or evening.

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This story originally appeared on Kotaku Australia.