Viewfinder is a first-person puzzler from Scottish developer Sad Owl Studios and publisher Thunderful. It is currently available on Windows PC and PlayStation, and for the purpose of this review I was playing the Windows PC version, with a review key that was very kindly supplied to us from the wonderful folks over at Plan of Attack.
Viewfinder is presented to the player as if they are playing within a simulation where you have to reshape reality to move forwards. You discover that the scientists that you work alongside in the real world have failed in their experiment that they are conducting and the simulated world must be shut down in order to leave and return back to the real world. You are accompanied by a feline AI, known as Cait, who will help you along the way. Equipped with your trusty polaroid camera you must twist and contort reality to make your way back.
The basic concept with Viewfinder is that you take a static image using your polaroid camera and you then use that picture to create a path to your destination. Sounds simple, but as you progress you’ll find this one singular mechanic is multi-faceted, and experimenting with it will find you the answer to every challenge you’ll face. Sometimes you’ll need to find battery packs to power up this teleporter. Sometimes you’ll need to take pictures to find these batteries, and other times you’ll need to take pictures to duplicate the batteries, but no matter what the objective in front of you, your camera is your best friend.
Viewfinder takes a seemingly simple concept and transforms it into something innovative, challenging and enjoyable. One thing I’ve frequently said about puzzle games is that the best puzzle games take one or two core concepts and applies them in a diverse range of ways throughout the game. When done correctly, these games don’t become stale or boring because despite the core concept being simple, the challenge remains present for the duration. Viewfinder falls into this category for me, and the aim of each area is to find your way to a teleporter.
Like previously mentioned, Viewfinder kept me gripped for the entire duration. The puzzles started off relatively easy and I made sense of them quickly and then the difficulty ramped up at a fair and reasonable pace. Eventually you’ll find yourself in tougher puzzles that actually require some trial and error. There were a few that had me stumped for a while, and then I’d make progress (sometimes by accident) which allowed me to see the bigger picture and understand it.
There was very little within the game to disappoint me. The range of puzzles never failed to keep me engaged, the environment was beautiful, and my feline companion was always on hand to amuse me. If you're a fan of games like Superliminal and Portal then you will feel right at home with Viewfinder. It will provide a challenge and a few hours of relaxed gaming for you.
Lj’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
For more information on Viewfinder please use the following links...
Many thanks to Plan of Attack for the Review Keys.