"When I played Viewfinder's public demo back in April, it kind of blew my mind.
Even just in that short slice, its central idea—taking photos and then placing
them in the world as 3D objects—was absolutely enchanting. So I jumped at the
chance to mess around with an early build, playing through around the first 2-3
hours of the game.
The game introduces you to its mechanics slowly—you don't start with the camera
itself, instead at first just finding pre-made photos in the world, then using
fixed cameras mounted on poles in the world. It is a little frustrating, when
you know what's coming—I just want to start messing about with the camera as
soon as possible—but these early levels do a good job of giving you a really
firm grounding in how the bizarre physics of photo-placing work.
You learn about using gravity to your advantage—for example, turning a photo
upside down so that when it's placed an object falls out of an otherwise
inaccessible space. You learn about the importance of perspective—how the angle
you place the photo at can totally change the resulting alterations to the
environment. And you learn about building platforms and structures by layering
photos one on top of the other.
Even at this early stage, things get mind-bending—a sequence with a battery
that turns out to be an illusion stumped me for a long time until I started
thinking in photo logic. The consistent goal—you're always just trying to get
to the teleporter to the next level, though sometimes you need to find
batteries to power it up too—keeps things grounded, allowing the developer to
ramp up the weirdness in the environments without overwhelming you.
Particularly charming is when you find other 2D objects that can be used in the
same way as a photo—such as placing huge playing cards as platforms and
watching all the hearts fall off them, or placing a blueprint of a robot and
watching the little invention come to life.
But it's when you finally get hold of your own polaroid camera that things
start to get really interesting. Being able to take a photo of anything and
place it anywhere is just magical—it feels like taking all the rules you've
ever understood about moving around a digital space and breaking them over your
knee. The technology behind the game alone is outstanding, and I bet it's got
many other developers scratching their heads."
Share and enjoy,
*** Xanni ***