Review: Contrast Is A Decent Shadow And Light Play
Contrast is a game of light and shadow that is a decent in every sense of the word. Being one of the first downloadable games to launch with the PS4, how does it stack up?
- Worth The Time?If you have a PS4 then do try it out, it's free with PSPlus.
- Things LovedI loved the dynamic of changing between the normal world and that of the shadows, this made the interplay between puzzle elements refreshing rather than stale for the most part. The art direction is beautiful and the world is crafted nicely enough. Some environments do seem sparse, but overall Contrast is a beautiful game. The actual story of the game is well though out and an emotional one at that.
- Things HatedSome of the puzzles don't seem well though out at times, levels are prone to bugs and glitches, and the game suffers from some framerate issues, most probably owing to the game being a port.
- RecommendationIf you enjoy puzzle platformers and have a PS4 give Contrast a go. It's free with PSPlus.
- Name: Contrast
- Genre: Platformer
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: None
- Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360,
- Developer: Compulsion Games
- Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
- Price: $14.99 (R152)
- Reviewed On: PS4
Contrast is a puzzle platformer, developed by Compulsion Games, which follows the story of Dawn an imaginary friend to a little girl named Didi. The game has you controlling Dawn moving her through a 3D world, with the unique ability to shift her into silhouette and having her jump between shadows consisting of obstacles. As you journey through the game, you will use Dawn to solve puzzles that involve you moving between the physical and shadow worlds. The beauty is that you can alter the shadow world by controlling and manipulating different light sources in the physical world, which in turn helps to create new paths for you when in silhouette traversing the shadow world of platforms.
The game world is noir in atmosphere and feeds off black and white film nostalgia with an interesting world and set of characters. Prominently the young girl Didi is the catalyst for events in the story, as well as your own actions as Dawn. The game’s narrative is told from her focal point and follows a line of exploration into parental issues between Didi’s mother and father, a subplot involving low-life criminals manhandling Didi’s father for money, and Didi trying to reunite her parents. All the other characters, with the exception of Didi and Dawn, appear as shadows. It is all pretty compelling stuff and the story is presented exceptionally well.
Gameplay is enjoyable with Dawn traversing the shadow world as you manipulate it in the physical world. You can shift between the physical 3D world and the 2D shadow world, on any wall or surface you so choose. This gives you many options in approaching the puzzles you come across. Essentially as Dawn you manipulate various light sources in a level to either enlarge or stretch the 2D shadow world. This in itself is a key element of the gameplay design, and is fun for the most part. Light sources are manipulated by moving real world objects and altering the dimensions of the shadow world. You are not really given any direction when approaching a puzzle and have to solve it within the confines of the shadow world, and exploit it to the best of your abilities. Throughout the game, you are aided by Didi who brings you to new puzzles, and you also gain new abilities such as been able to speed dash through shadows, some separated by light, and the ability to smash through walls and obstacles at will.
The puzzles themselves can be quite interesting with levels following a range of themes. At one moment in time, you could be trying to find your way across a broken bridge and have to use the shadow world to your advantage. In such instances, Didi may help you to make your way through by altering a light source. But generally, you’re left to your own devices and have to help Didi make progress. Another puzzle involved a merry-go-round, with Dawn jumping along the enlarged shadows of horses in order to get to a goal. This required timing and patience to complete and Contrast offers a range of different shadow puzzles to keep you busy.
There are also a variety of challenges where you can obtain collectibles, which tell you about the world and characters, and also can give you access to new puzzles and further the story. These challenges are normally sequences involving everyday objects with a shadowplay that you have to travel along in order to obtain a collectible. When it comes down to it, it is of benefit to explore the world around the puzzles, and visit every nook and cranny.
The art direction in Contrast is beautiful with a real 1920s feel about it. The game truly brings across that atmosphere of film noir. The visual style suits Contrast’s world of magicians, illusions, deceptions and imaginary friends. Combine this with a well chosen Jazz soundtrack and everything runs smoothly in the art and audio departments. The game, however, is not without its issues. Some of the levels suffer from glitches and bugs, and there is a noticeable framerate drop in some parts of the game. Much of this owes to the game being a port. But even with decent gameplay, strong visuals and musical choices the game comes across as unimpressive. We’ve seen shadow-inspired platformers with Limbo and those that have followed it. The experience doesn’t want to push you to finish the game, and there is not any incentive to do so.
Puzzles in the game, its main focus, can vary from predictable to confusing. Some of the puzzles aren’t particularly well laid out, and such design choices are irritating with puzzles becoming chores. When playing Resogun, in comparison, the game is far more addictive, even within its simplicity and makes you want to play it more. Contrast doesn’t do that.