You're just a normal private dick, smoking a cig in your office, when suddenly the cops appear and knock down your door. You've never commited a crime in your life, you think. Why are they after me? Armed with only a mysterious briefcase and your wits, you start running. Eventually, a woman in a bowler hat is roped in to this, and at first it seems like they're working together, but it turns out to be ambigious. And there's also a Bond-villain-like man with a mustache after you both...
That's only the surface of the iOS/Android game Framed, an interactive comic/puzzle/stealth game that notably recieved recognition from Hideo Fuckin' Kojima as his Game of the Year. It's very easy to see why, since the game is probably one of the most clever puzzle games in recent memory, telling a complete noir tale where you have to direct the course of the story so the two protagonists make it to the end.
Platforms: iOS, Android
If you haven't played it yet, the gameplay of Framed is deceptively simple. You have to move panels of a comic around so the protagonist makes it to the end of the page without being caught by guards, falling off a building, or otherwise getting stuck. For the most part, you'll be planning your next move by changing the order of panels and letting the story play out. Like any good puzzle game, more ideas are added as you go, such as pinned panels which can only be tilted, and moments where you have to reuse panels to get to the end. This makes it uniquely engrossing, plotting out scenes like a Hollywood director and making sure that the scenes go without a hitch, and while many of the pages are deviously designed, there's no penalty to trial and error. It's basically a given that you'll watch your characters fail quite a bit on your first go through.
The story is presented with no dialogue, letting the wonderful presentation do most of the talking. Every character is a rotoscoped sillouette performed by live actors, with little touches of color, contrasting with the more colorful city. The whole thing is a throwback to the heyday of noir, with a jazzy soundtrack and familiar archetypes populating the scenes, while the "man on the run" concept is fairly evocative of films such as North By Northwest. More importantly, the composition, staging and execution of each page is quite good, which raises the comic motif from a mere gimmick to integral to enjoying the whole thing.
Framed provides an excellent way of playing a narrative game. Though the story isn't multi-pronged, it's enjoyable to watch each scene play out like it should after much deliberation and trial and error, and successfully tells a stylish noir tale through a unique format. It's 5 dollars on the App Store and can be finished in an afternoon, but I think these guys are on to something about the future of narrative games.