Painting puzzle game Behind the Frame drips with Studio Ghibli charm
Hayao Miyazaki’s influence is seen beyond film, and in games across the entire industry. But until the hour-long Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery, I have never felt like I was in a Studio Ghibli movie.
Behind The Frame was created by Silver Lining Studio in Taiwan. It is a short interactive-fiction game about an artist who finishes a piece of art before sending it to a New York gallery.
Behind The Frame is filmed in the artist’s studio. She slowly works through the painting over the course of several days. It’s easy to get pulled into the Ghibli-like style and animation, which is set to a soft, “lo-fi” soundtrack. You can paint slowly: one stroke of yellow, one swipe of blue. It’s not your job to create a masterpiece. You can just fill in the spaces with colours or guide your pencil to draw a line across the screen. (Sketching is essentially the opposite of erasing in If Found …, the Annapurna Interactive-published visual novel from 2020.
The main canvas is the one in front of you, but you can also paint on other areas. These paintings are simple puzzles that move the story along within the game. Silver Lining Studio tells a story of memory and love in the time it takes to play behind the Frame. It is both devastating and delightful. Behind The Frame is grounded in the repetition of routine. It is necessary for the player, bringing back Studio Ghibli’s influence, to have a simple but beautifully rendered breakfast and then to sip coffee by the window before the day can begin.