The Japanese has a word for the absence of something called Ma (間). It’s been described as a pause in time, an interval or emptiness in space, and therefore it is not only highly regarded as an aesthetic concept, but as a universal principle that directly affect the human psyche and impacts the individual progress. Therefore, I would like to discuss today how Behind The Frame: The Finest Scenery implements this concept in a very beautiful way.
Ma combines the kanji for door門 and sun日. Together these two characters depict a door through the crevice of which the sunlight peeps in 間, thus enabling enlightenment and creativity. As much as we would like for something to exist in our lives, the absence of certain things holds as much weight and is integral to giving our love its complete shape and form.
Behind The Frame: The Finest Scenery is now available on PC (Tested), Android and iOS.
Behind The Frame: The Finest Scenery Review
Behind the frame tells the story of a young female artist who is determined to paint the final piece of art commissioned of her to be displayed at a painting gallery in New York. The painting is an abstract landscape that she already finished the basic outlines for, and has an idea in her mind of how it should look like in the end, yet she still can’t perceive a proper image of the colors the painting needs to be completed.
The woman is not entirely obsessed with her job as you might think at first, as she keeps being distracted by the actions of her neighbor who lives in the opposite window. An old man who lives alone with his cat, and a painter just like her, but some of his paintings already seem very familiar, and it leaves her with more curiosity about the nature of his art, and what is the life he leads, and what kind of person he is.
Words are not exchanged between the two however, since the journey is more concerned about self introspection and finding the right inspiration for the artist’s slump. The player will be tasked with searching for torn papers, finding inconsistencies between similar portraits, and try putting together an incomplete painting and fill the gaps with your brush and artistic sense of colors, for the reflection of your inner soul to finally gain clarity.
Intuition and feeling often determine the outcome of actions over pure logic and reasoning in Behind the Frame. There are many things left in said, and attentive listening and thoughtful observation are more valued than just talking to fill an uncomfortable silence. In fact the game strives to present one hour of an atmospheric quite time for the player to truly think and feel the quality of the experience.
There is a very little amount of narrative monologue, since meanings and emotions will mostly be conveyed through the visual interactive elements in the art studio, and the Ghibli-like aesthetic that fans of old Japanese animation movies will wholeheartedly appreciate. The bright colors blend very well with the beautiful simplicity of the presentation, and there is a small cassette player that sets the mood during each of the six chapters through playing some really enchanting melodies.
It always feels like there is some kind of an “invisible energy” passing through everything, and that you are existing in pure harmony with the space around you. The empty boundary and the lack of knowledge and inspiration provides a place for the imagination, and the more you ponder the more you fill in the gaps with your own thoughts just like artist herself. Behind the Frame is that kind of story.
The story is told in the silent pauses between musical notes, the sunrays escaping the window gaps, the coffee brewing on the counter, and the small gestures of love and regret between people. The Void 間 allows us to truly think for ourselves about the meaning, and shaping our world to reach fulfillment, but of course any of this wouldn’t have been possible without the developer taking the extra step to prepare everything in an interconnected and meaningful manner, leading into a very satisfying and thought provoking climax.
- Beautiful touches of art and animation that equal in quality to one of Japan's most prominent studios
- The interaction with the missing parts is very purposeful and well implemented
- The setting of an art studio in old Paris completely draws you in
- Playtime is very short - not more than an hour
- Puzzles are very expressive but they could have been more complex