Viewfinder melts the mind and stays with you long after its credits roll

While the introduction of Portal helped ignite a genre all on its own, few games have been able to match its creativity.

There’s been some great hits like The Turing Test, The Witness, and The Talos Principal, but all of them follow very similar patterns. All of them try similar things in slightly different ways.

And all are great games, don’t get me wrong, but after a few puzzles into Viewfinder, you begin to realise a fundamental ingredient all those games lack – a way of looking outside the box.

A game that makes use of angles, scenery, of making you look at things from different perspectives and unorthodox, creative solutions. Take multiple pictures of the same location, twist it, turn it, and look at things from all sides, exploring your surroundings to the full.

Viewfinder is compelling, intriguing, fascinating puzzlework that never fails to melt your mind several chapters deep. It’s a gimmick, sure, but it’s the way Sad Owl Studios keep reintroducing it, freshening up the formula, making it work in different ways that just keeps you invested.

It starts simple, with you picking up photographs, holding them up in front of you and lining them up so they become part of the scenery. This, in turn, breaks up the environment and essentially transports you somewhere else.

But it evolves and plays on that theme over and again, while still challenging you, making you think about duplication, about travelling long distances and opening up secret areas.

It’s one of the most refreshing puzzlers in years, quite frankly. And while sometimes you feel like you’re going through the motions and puzzle solving in general is fairly easy once you get into a groove, it’s a memorable experience between its subtle story-telling and smart scenic shifts.

There’s a wonderful part, actually, deep in Chapter 2 when you’re moving between different textured environments. From pixel art to watercolor to a child’s sketched drawing. I decided to sneak a look back through the worlds I’d travelled through and was startled to see the game had not only retained the different stages, but it created a remarkable effect and it didn’t even slow the game down or make it sluggish.

Perhaps that’s the most impressive thing about Viewfinder, the tech genuinely works, the engine holds, and at times it’s complete wizardry. I honestly don’t know how the devs have pulled it off.

Even the storytelling gets its hooks into you, as you learn more about the world and these experiments through gramophones, have conversations with a cat and uncover a variety of collectibles, from fridge magnets to mahjong pieces.

Viewfinder is just full of surprises, puzzles that play with the mind, but equally stun and impress you. It’s a game others will watch and become bedazzled by, and it’s an experience you, as a player, won’t soon forget.

This is a game that impressed with tech demos and early trailers. Fortunately, it’s also one that lived up to the hype.


Viewfinder is one of the most complete and compelling puzzlers in years with a unique hook that seperates it from the rest of the pack. The aesthetics are mind-melting and the concepts are dazzling, despite the short length and the ease at which you can cruise through the game. All told, Viewfinder is one you won’t soon forget and a game we’ll look back on with the greatest fondness for generations to come. 


+ Incredible concept expertly realised
+ Smart puzzles that make you think while staying memorable
+ Engine and mechanics hold up surprisingly well


– A little easy to cruise through it all once in the rhythm

Viewfinder is out July 18 on PC and PlayStation

Code Kindly Provided by Thunderful for review purposes

Played on PlayStation 5

About the author

Sally Willington

Sally is relatively new to gaming since a newfound addiction to Nintendo Switch. Now they just can't stop playing, anything and everything. Sally especially loves a good RPG and thinks that Yuna may just be one of her favourite characters ever.
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