As we play offers the thought strands of the reviewer as they’re going through the game. This offers unique content for the reader so they can come to understand the conflicting feelings of the reviewer as they’re playing a game for the very first time. All feedback on this concept is welcome.
The game opens in the bedroom of a cute wee nipper called Didi with a groovy 1920s song playing in the background. Didi’s mum comes to tuck her into bed and that’s when things get a little strange. While you can see Didi plain as day all you can see of her mother is her shadow and it looks like she can’t see you either. Maybe you’re her imaginary friend? The second her Mother is out of the room Didi bounds out of bed and hops out of the window; looks like we’re going to watch her sing. The game has a bit of a Tim Burton vibe with characters and buildings all slightly off kilter and out of proportion (Didi’s Mum looks a bit like a shadowy Jessica Rabbit). Once outside the games hook is revealed, if you go to a wall with light shining directly on it you can shift and become your shadow self running along the wall. So a 2D and 3D platform-em-up? Sounds just crazy enough to work…
The early gameplay is fun as you explore the strange and dream-like noir style world using you super shadow shifting powers. You start in a hub area that while small is packed with character; the main drag has a bar and a number of interesting looking gentlemen only locations then around the corner the floor falls away to nothing with only a billboard spanning the chasm to the cinema. Every so often you will see a glowing thing , touch it and on a wall nearby a scene plays out. Shift into the shadows and hop over the characters before the scene pays out and you can grab one of several luminaries dotted around the map. As you progress through the chapter you unlock more skills and areas to explore, more puzzles to solve and Illuminaries to collect. So far so fun.
It’s a pretty game no doubt about it…
Onward and upwards
As the game progresses you find yourself repeatedly aiding Didi in saving her hapless father from the dangers of mob-supported circuses and angry ex-wives. All of the cast bar Didi appear in silhouette only and this really adds to the feel of the game; it’s Didi and her potentially imaginary friend Dawn against the world. It really adds to the atmosphere and helps you to relate to Didi. The circus area is by far the best of the bunch with Dawn climbing shadows cast by a carousel and acting out the role of the princess in a shadow puppet play hilariously narrated by Didi’s father. Less fun are the Portalish box moving sections (I mean the boxes don’t even have hearts on them!) these feel a bit out of place with the rest of the game I mean who builds a gate that needs a box sitting on a platfor to open it?!? This also quite often leads to one of the main downfalls of Contrast; bugs! I found that often interacting with a box left Dawn seemingly stuck on nothing unable to move, you can usually boost out of it but it could did get really old really fast. You also got randomly kicked out of shadow form (more often than not to your demise) quite frequently which does make some of the puzzle a little more frustrating than they need to be.
Contrast clocks in around 4-5 hours depending on how smart you are (or how often you fall foul of the glitches). You will probably pick up the majority of the acheivements on the first play through and as most puzzles have only one solution there isn’t much by the way of replay value.
Hop on their heads, honest they won’t even notice…
Worth a Go?
Contrast is an interesting puzzle-em-up set in a wonderfully quirky world that begs to be explored. At best it is laugh out loud funny and strangely poignant at worst it is glitchy and frustrating; critics scores vary quite considerably and I guess the amount you can forgive the later depends on how much you enjoy the former. There is one thing everyone seems to agree on though, Contrast had great potential that it never quite reaches. If you are a PS Plus member it is free right now so definitely give it a go otherwise you can pick it up the flawed puzzler for the princely sum of £12.79.