Viewfinder 1
Image: Push Square

We've been rather taken with Viewfinder since we first caught wind of it, so we were very eager to try out the new playable demo on PS5. This first-person puzzler essentially allows you to turn two-dimensional images into full 3D spaces, and you'll use that unique hook to progress through the unusual, serene environments. The demo version is very short, but it provides just enough of a taster to leave us hungry for more.

The game toys with perspective in a brilliantly conceived way. 2D pictures you find in the environment can be held up against the world and sort of "stamped" into being, after which they become fully 3D spaces you can walk into. It's an incredibly clever trick. The demo begins by scattering various photos in the levels for you to find, but later on you get a camera, letting you take your own photos which can then be used to solve puzzles.

It seems like some levels have you hunting for batteries to power a teleport device, while others are just about getting to the teleporter. The first proper level in the demo is the former, and you'll need to explore a photo in the stage to grab a third battery. It's hard to explain how or why this is so cool — it's just one of those mechanics you need to experience first-hand to really appreciate.

The initial demo levels are quite lean, meant just to introduce you to the idea of imprinting photos into reality, but one or two later ones are more open, and don't have a strict solution. That's because you eventually get access to a camera, allowing you to take your own photos which can then be converted into 3D environments. It's here where the potential of the puzzles really starts to grow. We won't spoil exactly how, but there are multiple ways you can solve the demo's final level, and working them out makes you feel like a genius.

What's also great is that the game's art style changes depending on the 2D image you're using. You'll mostly be stepping into black and white photographs, but the demo also has you walking through pencil sketches, cel-shaded cartoons, and pixelated dungeons. It's clear there will be some visual variety, but it also means there should be some interesting mechanical variety too. A power-up in one picture you can find grants you a much larger jump, for example.

One interesting wrinkle to the gameplay is that anything behind the photograph when you stamp it in is erased from existence. This necessitates a rewind function to prevent you from inadvertently making levels impossible, but it also lets you do cool stuff, like bypass walls and barriers.

The potential on display here is sky high. The way that photo realms gain real physics when imprinted in the environment, the open ended puzzle-solving, the capacity to layer images onto and into each other — Viewfinder has hit on an ingenious core concept, and it feels like the demo barely scratches the surface. It's only 30 minutes long (if that), but it's left us even more excited for the full game, so we'd say that's mission accomplished.

Viewfinder doesn't have a firm date just yet, but it's coming to PS5 sometime in 2023. Have you played the demo? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.