Viewfinder review_ A cutting-edge puzzle sport filled with surprises

It is uncommon {that a} first-person puzzle sport comes alongside and makes you are feeling such as you’re experiencing one thing particular that brings one thing distinctive to the style. We felt it when exploring the mysterious glitched worlds of The Talos Precept, when navigating the unattainable Escher-like corridors in Antichamber, and naturally when pondering with portals in one of many originators of mind-bending puzzle design.

Viewfinder appears to seize a spot within the rising surreal perspective-based puzzle style corridor of fame, however does it depart a long-lasting affect like an image you’d maintain in a photograph album for a lifetime, or is it a brief group chat image you’d delete out of your cellphone to liberate reminiscence?

Viewfinder is a reality-shifting journey the place you reshape the world round you with a digital camera and pictures, the place you possibly can immediately manipulate the atmosphere in distinctive methods by strategically inserting footage over the panorama to vary your environment and resolve puzzles.

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The sport is made up of 5 hub worlds that every include quite a few panels which immediately teleport you to a collection of puzzle rooms. We cannot spoil any mechanics from the sport’s later areas, however the sport does a great job of introducing new gimmicks that evolve as you progress.

Every puzzle room requires you to discover a method to the exit through the use of footage you discover or take, with a helpful rewind operate that means that you can return in time to undo any errors or progress any time you want. It really works very well, and the tech behind reinventing the map in real-time is spectacular and makes for an extremely enjoyable and well-executed premise for a puzzle sport.

From photographing bridges and inserting them over gaps, rotating footage of buildings to create a staircase, or utilizing in-game photocopiers to create extra batteries to energy exit teleporters – the options reward creativity and supply loads of “aha!” moments when your terraformed creations work.

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Whereas puzzles are contained to 1 room at a time and require an answer to unravel them earlier than shifting on, all through the sport’s many ranges you will discover oddities and curiously positioned objects and pictures that add one other layer of creativity.

Online game screenshots, well-known work, and even a functioning tamagotchi are just some examples of the sport’s interactable objects that may typically result in secrets and techniques and end in among the sport’s most memorable moments.

Every space additionally has its personal collectables which might be hidden in ranges, and there are secrets and techniques, Easter eggs and quirky moments tied to achievements that act as enjoyable aspect content material you possibly can return and discover should you miss any whereas taking part in the principle sport.

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There may be an overarching narrative and cause you are exploring these stunning worlds to tranquil music. We cannot spoil too many story particulars right here, however the sport does a great job of guiding you thru the lore with audio logs, notes and a speaking AI cat.

The very best half is how the characters and voice logs inform the world round you, and you may discover issues talked about in conversations pop up in puzzle ranges, which is a superb little element and provides all the pieces function.

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Viewfinder’s puzzles are streamlined however artistic challenges that long-time skilled puzzle gamers could discover slightly simple. We completed all ranges together with the non-compulsory ones in below eight hours, which is a pleasant size, however glided by at a quick tempo with us hardly ever getting caught, and solely a few the non-compulsory puzzles taking us slightly longer to determine.

It seems like a acutely aware effort has been made to make the puzzle rooms really feel snappy with fast options that may be executed swiftly, with not a lot time to take in the gratification of your resolution earlier than being thrown into the following puzzle.

Due to this, Viewfinder by no means feels boring, however the contained nature of the puzzle rooms and the tempo at which new mechanics are launched could make a few of them really feel under-utilised. Discovering some late sport mechanics are actually “wow” moments, however we won’t assist however really feel like these are fleeting, as a result of after just a few ranges, the credit are rolling and we’re fascinated by all of the potential puzzle prospects that by no means occurred.

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At occasions, it will probably really feel like Viewfinder is simply scratching the floor of what is potential with its tech in a puzzle setting, which is comprehensible, as making it work in any respect is an achievement in itself, and making use of it to puzzles that make sense and that may’t be basically damaged is a large job – one which Unhappy Owl Studios has positively succeeded at right here.

However as a long-time first-person puzzle participant, it would not have that mind-blowing further layer that rewards you for pondering outdoors the field that you will see in video games like The Talos Precept with its star puzzles, or The Witness and its environmental puzzles.

Lacking this subsequent degree of problem means it doesn’tquite attain the heights of among the greatest video games within the first-person puzzle style, which is disappointing, because the mechanics make it good for actually pushing the boundaries of what is potential.

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This type of first-person puzzle sport has progressively advanced right into a style of its personal, and it is fascinating to contemplate the affect every sport has had on people who got here after.

Video games like Manifold Backyard, Superliminal and Maquette all launched over the previous couple of years, and whereas Viewfinder simply stands above most of them, it does pose questions on what video games like this must do to face out and push the concept of reality-shifting puzzle video games ahead.

Seeing devs deliver new concepts and tech to the style is improbable, as we wish to see boundaries pushed and new video games within the ‘mind-bending’ first-person puzzle style indefinitely, however it may be time to simply accept that the sentiments we felt taking part in innovators like Portal and Antichamber for the primary time would possibly by no means be replicated, and perhaps anticipating them to be is unfair.

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With that mentioned, Viewfinder brings some cutting-edge concepts to the desk and does greater than sufficient to separate itself from any sport in latest reminiscence by means of flawlessly carried out ideas and intelligent design.

Whereas Viewfinder will depart you wanting extra, it is among the greatest and most unusual within the style to come back out in a while, with gameplay that by no means will get previous because it repeatedly finds methods to shock and impress. Whether or not you are an informal puzzle participant or have expertise, Viewfinder deserves a spot within the picture album of must-play titles of the 12 months.

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Platform reviewed on: PlayStation 5

Viewfinder is out on PlayStation 5 and PC on July 18.

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