Viewfinder

Posted:  Nov 12, 2023
SDHQ BUILD SCORE: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarNo Star

Review

Viewfinder was provided by Thunderful Publishing for review. Thank you!

Ever since reviewing The Talos Principle 2, I have been getting back into mind-bending puzzle games. While looking for some to play, I remembered my time with Superliminal, one of my all-time favorites to play on the Steam Deck. It was the first game where I really felt the emphasis of contorting and bending reality to suit your needs and solve each level, and I loved it. Viewfinder is very similar in that sense, and I loved it.

Using photographs, you will manipulate reality, completing pathways and bringing items into areas where you couldn't before. Some of these photographs will be taken for you, while others will require you use a camera and snap the photos you will use. Some of these puzzles are generally easy, while some completely stumped me and I had to take a moment to think out of the box. I loved the gameplay, but my biggest complaint is length. What was there is amazing, but it just felt too short. The optional puzzles are a nice touch, but I beat the game and was left wanting more.

Viewfinder6

The story revolves around you trying to discover how to save your dying world. This is told throughout the narration and clues you find along the way in a digital landscape that is extremely beautiful. Color permeates through every model and the varying styles of photos and filters you can find make most levels astonishing to just walk through. Each of the hub worlds that housed the levels were unique and had a design of their own, which felt cohesive as we went from place to place. This was only enhanced with SteamOS 3.5, and I am sure will be even more beautiful on the Steam Deck OLED. Speaking of which...

Viewfinder - Steam Deck Performance

Playing Viewfinder on the Steam Deck is extremely easy and I found little issue, for the most part. In the beginning, I did find some areas which saw heavy drops, which I found were caused by the Shadows. Swapping this from "ULTRA" to "High" fixed a majority of these with little change to visuals. There are a couple of spots, usually in the hub worlds, where we need more change to bring down.

Compare
Shadows ULTRA
Shadows High
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Shadows High
Shadows ULTRA

Luckily, this doesn't really affect the levels, which makes playing the game at 60 FPS all the more better! There are some massive drops when going to new hub worlds, and a significant one when getting back into the digital world early on in the game, but these quickly dissipate once loading is done.

With all of that in mind, I found just changing the game's Shadow setting and keeping at 60 FPS was the best way to enjoy. Most of the puzzles are more condensed areas, so we were able to keep the framerate with a 14W or lower battery drain. The hub does have some slowdowns, but bringing Anti-Aliasing to 2X solved this. It still drains a bit, but I saw no visual difference either. This is one of those games that I really preferred smoothness over everything, and luckily, it isn't one that requires a lot of compromise.

There are ways to lower and get more battery life, or better visuals with the resolution scale, but I didn't feel it was worth it. The 100% resolution scale with 60 FPS was the perfect balance of visual quality, smoothness, and battery life.

Accessibility

As for accessibility, Viewfinder has a specific sert of options for accessibility. You can change the language, override the font for better readability or for those who are Dyslexic, change subtitle font color, positioning, and if they include the names of who is talking, and you can turn off haptics and if any levels have a timer. You can also change font size, turn on a Photosensivity mode, change field of view, crosshair settings, audio sliders, and invert controls.

The game does support 16:10 resolutions, as well as full controller support. There isn't any cloud save support, but with how short the game is, I didn't feel like this was a necessary addition.

Conclusion

Viewfinder is an exceptional puzzle game that feels exceptional with its presentation. The world itself is absolutely gorgeous, and the puzzles will make you feel smart when you accomplish them due to the need to manipulate the world to achieve your goals. It is a little on the short side, and some puzzles are a bit easy, but the overall experience is a great one, especially on the Steam Deck!

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Viewfinder is a short, but sweet mind-bending puzzle games that is perfect for the Steam Deck.

Build Score

Performance: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
VISUALS: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
Stability: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
Controls: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
Battery: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarNo StarNo Star
Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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