Viewfinder from Thunderful and Sad Owl Studios is a mind-bending first-person puzzle experience that you need to check out on PS5. Find out why in our Viewfinder review!
Viewfinder from Thunderful and Sad Owl Studios is a mind-bending first-person puzzle experience that you need to check out on PS5. For this single-player journey you’ll be making the most of a peculiar instant camera that will allow you to use the pictures you take to redefine how you solve the puzzles that the game will throw at you. On top of the pictures that you can take and use, you’ll also be bringing to life paintings, sketches, postcards, and more, as you learn the secrets of the world of Viewfinder.
As you can tell from the trailer and screens in this Viewfinder review, the gameplay loop makes for a very fun and trippy experience that, at times, reminded me of the excellent Superliminal – which I got to review on PlayStation 4. While Superliminal played with perspective as you explored the Pierce Institute, Viewfinder takes things in a different direction by allowing you to use pictures to bring them to life so that you can solve the many puzzles that you’ll run into as you complete each chapter. It also offers bite-sized levels compared to Superliminal’s more interconnected world.
As soon as you start to play, you’ll hear a voice from someone named Jessie who will de directing you as you explore each area. It seems you’re exploring a world not here nor there… or something? By interacting with the Loggagraph that you find, you’ll be able to listen to recordings that will allow you to learn more about what is going on. You will also find some Post-it here and there, as well as other notes with additional information.
Since the game is played from a first-person perspective, you’ll be walking through each area with the left analog stick as you look around with the right one. You can interact with the Square button, which can be used to check out items, grab photographs, postcards or drawings, or to activate contraptions, such as the teleporter that will allow you to exit each level. Press the X button to jump. And if you make a mistake, you can always press the Circle button to rewind time and fix things! And yes, you can definitely rewind an entire level if you want to.
Pick up a photograph or any of the other images that can be used to solve a puzzle, and you will be able to aim it with the L2 button and place it with the R2 button anywhere you want. While placing an image, you can press left or right on the D-Pad to rotate it. Pressing up will allow you to align the image with the general area in your view, so that you can place it just right to have the resulting image bring you one step closer to completing the level.
If you have multiple images on you, you can flip between them by pressing down on the D-Pad so that you can pick the right one to get the job. You’ll soon run into stationary camaras during the game’s second chapter, which you can use to take pictures to help you solve puzzles. And once you’ve obtained the instant camera – which happens early during the game’s third chapter – you’ll be pressing the L2 button to aim and the R2 button to take a snap of what’s in the camera’s view.
It’s hard to talk about a game like Viewfinder without spoiling things too much. But in order to give you an idea of what to expect, I’ll talk about the first two levels in the game. The first one is an easy one, since all you’ll have to do is grab a photograph that shows a teleporter, place it into view, and then walk towards the teleporter to activate it. Except that the wood bridge that you have to use to get to said photograph will fall as soon as you step on it! You’ll learn this the hard way, but at least you’ll be able to quickly rewind time so that you can give it another go.
For the second level in the game, the teleporter is right there next to you. Unfortunately, the pad that powers it up only has a single battery on top of it, and it needs three batteries to be fully charged. There’s one extra battery nearby after you walk up a flight of stairs, but that still means you need one more battery to activate the teleporter so that you can move on to the next level. The good news is that you can find a photo of that area on a canvas to your right, which means you can then place the photograph and up walk up to the black and white battery in the photograph to grab it so that you can use it as the third and final battery needed to power up the teleporter!
And now, let’s talk about trophies! Viewfinder has a full trophy list with a Platinum, so you’ll have to work on obtaining the 32 Bronze trophies, 5 Silver trophies, and 4 Gold trophies on offer to be able to add that new shiny Platinum to your collection. What objectives will you need to complete to get all of those trophies? Along with obtaining the camera and taking 25 and 100 pictures, as well as finding all special collectibles in each of the game’s chapters, you’ll also have to complete all of the optional challenge levels, collect all camera filters, pet Cait, rewind for a very, very long time, and drop a battery of a level, to name some examples. There’s also a long list of 20 secret trophied that I don’t want to spoil here, so you’ll have to play the game to find out what you need to do to make those trophies pop.
Viewfinder is a clever mind-bending first-person puzzle experience on PlayStation 5 that will have you using images and taking pictures to complete the bite-sized puzzles it will throw at you. Each chapter in the game has a different theme, and it will introduce new elements at a steady pace so that you get a chance to learn more about them without feeling overwhelmed. It reminded me at times of the excellent Superliminal, which is certainly not a bad thing! Viewfinder is out tomorrow on PlayStation 5.
This Viewfinder review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by Thunderful.