Behind The Frame VR: A Studio Ghibli-inspired Adventure Falters in VR Adaptation
Behind The Frame VR, a reimagining of the original Studio Ghibli-inspired ‘paint-and-click’ adventure, has made its way to virtual reality. While the game showcases stunning visuals and an intriguing premise, it falls short in delivering a smooth and immersive VR experience. In this article, we delve into the highs and lows of this narrative adventure.
Reimagining the Original
Initially released as a 2D point-and-click adventure, Behind The Frame VR takes the original concept and transforms it into a 3D world, designed to make the best use of virtual reality’s interactivity. The developers have done an excellent job recreating the original environments in a way that suits the virtual reality experience. However, the transition from 2D to VR is far from seamless.
One of the first indications of a rough adaptation is apparent in the opening menu screen, which feels disjointed and out of place. The occasional switch to cinematic cutscene mode during gameplay also disrupts the overall flow of the experience. These uneven presentations persist throughout the game, undermining the immersion that VR promises.
An Engaging Narrative
Behind The Frame VR follows the story of Amber, an aspiring artist, as she embarks on a journey to complete her masterpiece. Her neighbor, an elderly artist accompanied by his cat, sparks her curiosity and leads to an unexpected and compelling narrative. Despite the technical shortcomings, the game manages to hold players’ interest for its roughly two-hour duration, leaving a lasting impact on their artistic sensibilities.
The majority of the game takes place in Amber’s home, with occasional cutaways to other locations. Interactions within the game are simple but serve to gradually build a picture of Amber’s life. The classic point-and-click mechanics are still present, requiring players to click on various objects to learn more about them. The transition to 3D adds a new layer of interactivity, offering a more immersive exploration experience.
A Mix of Puzzles and Painting
Behind The Frame VR incorporates a variety of puzzles and painting tasks to progress through the game. Some puzzles may involve adding colors to existing pictures or recreating patterns found in Amber’s notebook. While none of the puzzles are overly challenging, they provide enough engagement and variety to keep players entertained.
Painting in the game is a particularly enjoyable aspect, as players gradually unlock new colors and use them to create their artwork. However, there are instances where the detection for adding paint to pre-existing paintings is inaccurate, causing frustration and hindering the overall experience.
Technical Issues and Comfort Concerns
Behind The Frame VR suffers from several technical issues and comfort concerns, particularly in the PlayStation VR 2 edition. The laser pointer used for interacting with objects is not consistently visible, making aiming from a distance a challenge. Texture distortions and occasional cutscene glitches also create an uncomfortable sensation for players.
Behind The Frame VR – Comfort
Stick-based artificial locomotion with snap turning is the primary means of movement in the game. Unfortunately, there is no smooth turning option provided. Although players can toggle between teleport and smooth movement, teleportation did not work during the review playthrough. Seated play is unsupported, and the game lacks comfort settings beyond audio sliders.
These comfort concerns are exacerbated by multiple bugs encountered during the PlayStation VR 2 playthrough. Object textures flashed and distorted when selecting certain items, and walking toward the kitchen caused an unintended height adjustment. It is uncertain whether these issues are exclusive to the PlayStation VR 2 edition or also affect the PC VR and Quest releases. Nonetheless, the technical problems detract from the overall gameplay experience and left players feeling nauseous after extended sessions.
Behind The Frame VR’s greatest strength lies in its captivating narrative, which remains intact despite the challenges of the VR adaptation. However, technical performance issues, uneven visuals, and design problems hinder the overall experience. The game feels like a disappointing take on the original concept, and at present, we recommend opting for the flatscreen version instead. It is our hope that future patches will address these issues, allowing players to fully enjoy the immersive potential of Behind The Frame VR.
Please note that this review is based on the PlayStation VR 2 edition of Behind The Frame VR. The presence of bugs and technical issues mentioned in this review may vary across different platforms.