A picture tells a thousand words. It can also reshape reality in Sad Owl Studios’ puzzle-adventure game, Viewfinder. The puzzle game of the year is right here, offering a mind-bending experience that will require your thinking cap. Find the answer to the impossible, once you step into the world of Viewfinder.
In a world where climate change has reached a devastating level, you must travel through a computer simulation to try and find lost research left behind by scientists who may have found a solution to the world’s end. Players are drip-fed parts of the narrative, but it is left up to the player’s discretion on how much they want to dig into it. Post-it notes and research reports are scattered through each level detailing the researchers that came before you.
The premise of the narrative was interesting enough to have me invested in it, but often it just felt like the story was just tacked onto the game as an afterthought. It could have been fleshed out a bit more, but it felt a little two-dimensional at times.
When it comes to Viewfinder, it’s the puzzles that truly set it apart from any other puzzle game. It has gameplay similar to that of Superliminal, but with the impact and innovation that Portal gave us back in 2007. I’m not a big puzzle game guy, but the concept of these world-bending puzzles had me so intrigued.
Puzzles are solved using photos and pictures that can be placed to change the world around you. These pictures can be used to create bridges to unreachable areas, duplicate items, and even erase items out of the world. Almost nothing is off-limits when it comes to the puzzles. A rewind feature is available on the fly if you feel like you’ve made a mistake.
The game has five hubs which home multiple levels, all offering new gimmicks to the puzzles. Each level has multiple puzzles throughout, some are straightforward, while others encourage lateral thinking. I found myself struggling with two or three puzzles throughout my playthrough. There are no options for difficulty, but hints are available once the game acknowledges you’ve been in the same level for a while.
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Viewfinder’s primary art style is beautiful and vibrant with soft colours, with the colour palette changing throughout each hub. It’s the juxtaposition of the art styles throughout the pictures you place that really shines, though. These can range from sketches and pixel art to paintings and other surreal art styles. It’s a visual marvel.
It’s been a long time since an iconic puzzle game has captivated the gaming community, and Viewfinder will have just that. At a $45 price tag on PS5, this is an experience I can recommend to anyone who enjoys puzzle games.
Viewfinder reshapes the world into a beautiful reality that will have players completely engrossed in the thought-provoking puzzles it presents. Despite its often disjointed story, it offers a surreal experience that players will be talking about for years to come.
- Striking art styles
- Puzzles are fun and don’t get repetitive
- Encourages players to think outside of the box
- Concept of the game is fantastic and well-executed
- Only 3 hours long
- The narrative could’ve been stronger
- Some hints aren’t that helpful