November 24, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Framed: Spy Caper Meets Animated Graphic Novel | Touch and Go

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Continuing with our series of posts on gaming and puzzle apps, Kathleen Wilson reviews an intriguing selection below.  

Part noir spy caper, part puzzle game, part animated graphic novel (where viewers get to control the narrative), Loveshack’s prequel, Framed 2 (iOS, $4.99, Android, $4.99; Gr 8 Up), like its predecessor, Framed (iOS, $3.99, Android, $2.99; Gr 8 Up) defies easy categorization.

The protagonist is a mysterious silhouetted man with white shades and a briefcase. He’s on the run and viewers must keep him alive as he races through a shadowy, urban landscape, across rooftops, up and down fire escapes, along lengthy piers, and through twisting alleyways. Although his destination is not clear, his intent to reach it is, despite the many obstacles in his path, including cops with guns, attack dogs, crumbling architecture, rickety steps, and various other dangers. Two silhouetted characters from the original Framed add to the mystery—a young woman with a flowered hat, who joins the protagonist midway through the caper, and a man with a mustache, who appears to be chasing them both.

Each of the 23 levels in Framed 2 is displayed as a page from a graphic novel illustrated with a series of mildly animated scenes in individual frames. The trick is to find the best way to sequence the frames so that the mystery man in black can make it through the scenes and on to the next level without meeting his demise. This is where the visual puzzle game comes in.

It takes a while to realize that the panels may need to be reordered, reused, or rotated to make each sequence work and keep the protagonist alive. Not only that, but with different combinations, a variety of actions can happen in any given frame. Although this can be frustrating at times, the cartoonish mishaps of the silhouetted man can be quite entertaining, even when deep in the middle of the trial-and-error process. At random moments, viewers get the added surprise of bonus collectible polaroids that pop up on the screen.

Although there is no dialogue, the story progresses nicely from one action-packed sequence to another. The artwork is gorgeous, with touches of rich detail, fluid pastel colors and evocative animated elements, such as the occasional rippling of water. Among the highlights of Framed 2 are the carefully chosen sound effects and sultry jazz soundtrack that map perfectly onto the narrative, seamlessly adding tension and drama. A trailer is available. VERDICT Steer viewers who enjoy visual puzzles, slapstick humor, and high-stakes action—with a twist of intrigue—to this unusual production.Kathleen S. Wilson, New York University, NY

For additional app reviews, visit School Library Journal‘s dedicated app webpage.



Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.

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