Sunday, 12 April 2015

Review No. 109 Contrast - PC (12+)

Strong Points:
Great mechanics
Nice art style
Touching story
Lovely soundtrack
Good puzzle design

Weak Points:
Very short
Bugs and glitches
Can become slightly frustrating
No custom key-bindings

Rating: 78%

In-depth Review:

Release Dates:
North America: November 15, 2013
Europe: November 29, 2013


This game reminds me of Portal in so many ways. An interesting and original puzzle concept? Check. A touching story with lots of subtext and backstory which gets you thinking? Check. Some humorous sections which make you 'laugh out loud'? Check. A silent protagonist? Check. Very short game? Check. An evil and sarcastic robot intent on destroying you? Maybe for the sequel...

So what is this game mechanic I hear you ask. Well, your character, Dawn, can jump between the real, 3D, world and the shadow, 2D, world at will. If there is a light shining on a wall then Dawn can jump into the wall and use the shadows created by objects around the light source to traverse and get to unreachable areas. I loved this concept and the interesting puzzles which go with it from traversing across jazz players after turning the spotlights on to saving a knight in a puppet theater.

This concept wouldn't be nearly as effective without good lighting and art direction but thankfully this game delivers on that front. With the setting of 1920's Paris, beautiful environments are abound. These environments really help to tell the touching story of a girl and her 'imaginary' friend (you) who she relies on to help her restore her broken family. As you are in the girls mind, she is the only one who can see you and she is the only person you can see fully fleshed out. All the other characters are seen as shadows which allows the story and the game mechanics to mix together in varying ways including using the characters talking and moving to traverse to another point in the level by walking across them.

While the story does take some bizarre twists at the end (which could set it up for a great sequel), overall it is heart-warming and brilliant with great character development and voice acting even though it's a really short game. The music helps to tell the story and increase the immersion of the game and I regularly stopped for a minute to take in the graphics and listen to the awesome jazz sounds (even the title screen!).

However, even with all this stopping, I finished the game in one play session of just under four hours. It then took me another twenty minutes or so to nab the last few collectibles and achievements and I had 100% the game in four hours. While I was left wanting more, it was nice to actually be able to finish a game and move on instead of having to keep restarting a level to collect the 100 or so different collectibles as in some other games. This games mission was to tell an engaging story and show you a great idea, and minigames, side quests and collectibles weren't just shoved into the game to flesh it out a bit.

The execution of the game was mixed, with some levels being perfectly made and some making me have to cheat or restart to even be able to finish the level. There were quite a few glitches with boxes and yourself being able to float just off the edge of the platform (this is where I cheated) and randomly popping out of the 2D shadow plane because you charged over a bend. This wasn't a AAA title though and without the AAA price tag (I got it on sale for just over £2) or 100 hours of glitches, therefore the wasn't game too frustrating.

Conclusion: overall, this game shows great potential and hopefully a sequel (if there ever is one) will be able to learn from its predecessor.

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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