Sunny-side-up eggs and toast. A warm cup of coffee. Relaxing piano music. An easel and a canvas. What better way to enjoy a morning?

Behind the Frame invites its player to revel in that tranquil scenery. It tells the story of a young painter who's trying her best to enter an art exhibition in New York and, on an afternoon that would have been spent with the easel, ends up learning more about an old neighbor who doesn't interact with other people much. As a short narrative-focused game, it's better not to go any deeper into the story in a review: suffice to say, it's a touching and easy to relate to story about being true to oneself and one's feelings.

Much like Tangle Tower, another 2D hand-animated point-n-click on Steam, Behind the Frame immediately distinguishes itself through its immaculate vibes: the Ghibli-inspired characters and animation, gorgeous environments and emotional tunes are highly effective in setting the mood to our lovable artist's surreal adventure. The similarities end there, however, as Behind the Frame is much more focused on its narrative than anything else.

The game is strictly linear, with six chapters composed of events that unfold in sequence -- not unexpected from a narrative game, but the particular choice of mechanics here does end up giving off this distinct feeling of being constrained. It's also far lighter on puzzles, which, bar the ones at the tail end of the game, are solvable within seconds. This makes the package less attractive for its brainteasers, and more of a game to unwind to on a lazy evening. On that front, it makes a very compelling case for itself.

This is the first original IP from Akatsuki Taiwan, and it does leave a good impression along with the lingering question on whether they'll make more original games like this.

Reviewed on Apr 09, 2024