Environmental puzzle games are not a new concept. Finding ways to manipulate the world around you to get from point A to point B has taken on many forms over the years. Still, I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like Viewfinder before and I greatly enjoyed the little hands-on time I got with a PC build of the game during GDC 2023.
Viewfinder takes place in a world where players can take photographs found in the environment and essentially place the scenery into the living world around them. Say there’s a large gap between two areas and you have a picture of a bridge; if you set it the right way, you’ll be able to place said bridge and walk right on over. However, place it the wrong way and you could end up completely erasing your goal from existence. Fortunately, there’s no real fail state in Viewfinder and players can simply rewind time to erase their mistakes and try again.
Even in my short time with Viewfinder, this game presented me with a number of creative puzzles. At one point I used a picture with a picture in it of the same scene so I could keep placing it over and over to reach my goal. Several puzzles also involved collecting batteries to open the gate to the next level. I was able to place a pic sideways in the air and drop the battery down in order to open the gateway. At one point I even got my own instant camera so I could take my own pics and solve the puzzles however I saw fit and create my own solutions.
I found Viewfinder to be a very soothing puzzle experience that didn’t make me overthink anything while still providing enough complexity to keep me intrigued. The way that players interact with the world around them and manipulate it is open-ended and I am very interested in getting my hands on more, which should happen later this year, as Viewfinder is slated for a 2023 release.
This preview is based on hands-on time with a PC build of Viewfinder. The game is slated to launch on PlayStation 5 and PC in 2023 but does not have an official launch date as of the publishing of this article.
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