Contrast

Tags

, , , , ,

7
Platformer, Light Puzzle Solver
$10(15), PC, PlayStation (3 and 4), Xbox (360 and One)

          Contrast was a title that came across somewhat randomly on Steam. It shared a few earmarks with other games I had invested time in. So I checked the page out and thought it was interesting enough to put on my wish list. I recently grabbed it, and finished it before I realized it.

Story

          Didi is a young girl being raised solely by her mother, Kat. A powerhouse of a singer, she performs at a cabaret club known as Ghost Note. Making money means being out all night, and Didi often follows her mother to her exasperation and to the chagrin of child services. As Kat heads off to perform once more she draws a promise from Didi for the young girl to remain at home. However, as soon as Kat is gone, Didi turns to Dawn to get out and explore the city.

Contrast_Screenshot_03

Didi and Dawn

Theming

Contrast_Mechanic

Acrobatic Alacrity

          While Didi is the focus of the story, we the players take control of Dawn. Didi is the only person who can perceive Dawn. The enigmatic woman is lauded as an acrobat. She also has the unique ability to navigate the world via shadows. This reinforces the story as much of it is from Didi’s perspective. Can you remember living at home with your parents and overhearing a conversation that wasn’t meant for you? As Didi, and Dawn by extension, are sneaking around and eavesdropping truth comes from the shadows. Aside from the Protagonist Pair, all other people in the world are seen as illuminated shadows or figures in portraits.

Contrast_Narrative2

As Didi Sees

          Personally, I found the game to be lovingly made. The world is rife with rich detail. You could likely clear the whole game in two hours, achievements and all. For this, each chapter feels hand made. Didi’s room is seen twice in the game. Some exteriors are accessible outside their respective chapters. But otherwise, all the settings and set pieces are unique. Those that indulge in a look will see a somewhat shattered world. I feel it is, like much of the game, a deliberate choice. Is it the disjointed viewpoint of a child’s imagination? Is the nature of reality being debated betwixt the light and shadows? Is just just more clever than having invisible walls?

          Contrast evokes the feel of the Roaring 20s. Every element builds up the setting. The overall noir feel is reinforced by the characters, how they speak, and the power of their silohettes. The music has all the right flares. I can imagine hearing it through a gramophone, vinyl scratches and all. The building designs have the feel of being built to last. Even the sepia tones of the shadow platforming reflects film quality of the time. A lot of subtle cues overlap to immerse the players into the world.

Contrast_Screenshot_10 (1)

Music

          The music in each of the puzzle segments is spot on and serves reinforce the set pieces. Listening to it on its own via the soundtrack can be repetitive, but such is the way of game music.

Contrast_Screenshot_06

Kat sets the House On Fire

          Counter to repetitiveness, I was introduced to Laura Ellis thanks to this game. Ellis’ vocals gave Kat her punch as a performer. Kat’s Song, heard on the intro menu, and House on Fire, which played during Kat’s performance at Ghost Note, are memorable in their own rights. Laura Ellis’ singing ties together an era of cabarets, gangsters, and shady back room deals.

Mechanics

Contrast_Screenshot_04 (1)

          The puzzles in the game will have Dawn jumping in and out of shadows. In some cases, arranging how light is cast to manipulate the length, shape, and movements of the shadows. If you ever played some key titles in The Legacy of Kain game series, Defiance and the Soul Reaver games to be precise, recall Raziel’s manipulation of the Physical Realm to effect the Spectral Realm.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

          While very short, everything is put together well. The game never lagged and was a smooth experience all the way through. Checkpoints are plentiful enough that a fall won’t set you back too far. New mechanics are explained as they are acquired. Once you are into the game, it is a brain teasing jaunt to the end.

Replay Value

          This is the one area where the game could be said to be lacking. I dithered around and tinkered with different parts of the game knowing that I was going to write a review. I finished the game at around two hours. I got to around three hours achievement hunting. I jumped back in to take some screenshots. I am just at four hours of game play. And unless I feel the need for more screenshots that’s where I’ll stay. Outside of a platforming segment I hopped, skipped, and jumped around most of the solutions are fairly straightforward. I may revisit the tale in the far future when I do not remember it so clearly. While short, Contrast will stick with you. This is both good and bad in terms of replaying.

Saving Options

          The game only allows for a single play of the game at a time. However, collectibles seem to be saved independently so once found they are permanent. Also, you can choose to return to any chapter once completed. As the game is so short you don’t need multiple save files.

Closing

          Contrast has everything I love in a game. It is an original intellectual property, a clean cut story, consistent and tangible setting, wonderful music, with intuitive and responsive game controls. I like games like this, especially from lesser known companies. It shows they can deliver a finished product and, if given the materials, what they would do on a grander scale.

          Already Compulsion Games is presently developing We Happy Few with Early Access now. I’ve seen many streamers and YouTube personalities cover this game. Compulsion Games have proven they’ve got what it takes, and it is being recognized by this larger project.

          Contrast is, as near as I can tell, Compulsion Games’ first showing. They did a wonderful job and I am happy to have spent a scant few hours with this game, and I look forward to more work from this group.

Contrast_Screenshot_12

Dawn and Moon View the city


Credits

Slideshow images taken from within game by author
Other images from Compulsion Games, Contrast website, and related press kit

Advertisements

A Boys’ Blue

Tags

,

Born under a blue sky
Held lovingly against my mother
Taught to walk at the ends of my father’s arms
Given the promise of the whole world
Told always the sky is the limit

Memories caked with paint
Blank pages covered in random splotches
Never being concerned with taste
Or staying inside the lines
Purely happy, free, and blissful
Using only my hands to manifest dreams

Stiff and dark, these blue pants
Oft scoffed and more oft loathed
Deemed simple and safe
Formed a rigid mind
Oft contained and more oft freed
Every time the pants changed

Blades in blue blood
A hardened heart
A mind still as a pool
Even stone and water
Can move with quickness and force
Even cold and still
Does the human heart express affection

Blue, representing sorrow
The pain of love unrequited
The agony of love lost
The shattering of a dream
A singular look up reminds me
That blue isn’t sadness

Over open ocean gazes the eyes of the now young man
A sky of promise
Memories painted vividly
The pain of a lifetime
Forever as the waves
Small as a grain of dust
All emotion encompassed
Inside a solitary crystal tear

My One Truth

Tags

,

Deep within your eyes, I sense a dark beauty
The Light of who you were was beauteous enough
Now a taint has added richness to your soul
You are delicate and powerful
Delicate, yet powerful
Your elegant voice sends surges through my being
Your memory causes my rarely beating heart to pulse
With Anticipation and Delight
My mind is drawn to thoughts of you always
To hear your words, to listen to your voice again
To touch your beautiful face
To hold you and feel your warmth
Blurred moments and blue eternities
Are what I long to spend with you
From the time in memories long past
I can remember holding your hand
And My Heart stop and beat insanely
The dazzle and sparkle in your eyes
The pure presence of life you exuded
As then, I want from you all that I cannot see
A lust is held to drink deep from your soul
To know you in the absolute
To share my soul with you
That the universe may be ours together
Now, and beyond the end of time
Just as it is darkest before dawn
My perpetual night always seeks your radiance
Just over the horizon
The thought of you burns brightest
In the dark depths of my heart My Love

Truth

Tags

,

What are you really?
You can’t be a normal girl
Born of flesh to be flesh
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust

Are you a drop of water?
Elegant in motion
Beautiful in its simplicity
Yes, but No
The vast ocean is you
For your darkness and depths hide great beauty

Are you the wind?
Bringing fresh life wherever you go
Unhindered and unchained by the hands of man
Yes, but No
A powerful tornado is you
Destructive, yet completely captivating

Is it that you really are just a girl?
Who, by whatever chance, have a goddesses’ bearing
Or perhaps it was good karma in a past life
Yes, but No
I have yet to see into your soul
But still, I know you are more than a dress and a voice

Without ascending into any kind of celestial being
And having a universal understanding
I can never find the words to describe what I feel from you
But, I can try…

And after much thought, I now know what you truly are
A meteor, a fallen star from the heavens
You came from above eons ago
It was you who obliterated the dinosaurs
You caused the dark cloud that ended them
However
From the first ray of light that shown through that cloud
Like an angel descending
It was you, like water in a vast desert

But just imagine
If you could rock the world of the great Saurians
Think of what you do to the human race today!

Land of Broken Spirits

Tags

,

The pain of my soul is overbearing
Where there was once a lush forest and beautiful fields
There is now only desolation and tragedy

I created this place out of the Darkness
But it had no meaning
I made meaning

But in you
Your fires burned bright
Gave new life to an already beautiful creation

Love of an Angel
The True loving heart of a divine entity
Gave light to the broken world

You give your all
Yet still, the world breaks
And You cry the saddest tears of all

This land of desolation
This land of broken spirits
It is my own… at your loss

Solace of the Sea

Tags

,

Falling far
Falling fast
Falling forever
The Void of Darkness my domain
I faltered and feel, was kick and battered and thrown into the pit
At once I lost all sensation… all awareness of existence
And, with a splash, I returned to reality, I returned to awareness
A great sea in the midst of Darkness… it saved me, held me, gave me something for my mind to feel
It gave me a reason to live
Quickly the sea took me to shore and allowed me rest
Sunrise and sunset over and over again
By the sea was the first light I had seen
The sea would rise and encompass me
It helped heal me
As it receded I would awaken to a peaceful night under peaceful stars
I began to walk with the sea, to swim in it’s waves
The land was foreign
I found shelter with the sea
I would play in the waters, dive it’s depths, return to shore, and rest with it
I learned to hear it’s voice, to hear the words unspoken to me
I could hold the sea in my heart, and we understood each other
We were as lovers, knowing all while nothing was spoken
Twilight would come as it always did, yet the air would change
That which flung me into the dark returned, it sought me still
I fled
I ran inland and away from the sea… all that I had known since I awoke in the dark
That which would destroy me still seeks me
I wish, only once, to go back to the sea
But the question is
Would it remember me?

Unnamed

Tags

,

What can I possibly say
To take all your pains away?
What can I do
To forever be near you?

What can I let you see
That will make you believe in me?
Will it be physical?
My strength as the earth?
Will it be through the heart?
Fires that burn to protect and warm?
Will it be the soul?
An ocean of life waiting to be explored?

I am as the planet, waiting to give life and to provide
Will you be the Sun, to give your blazing light?

And as you shine on me, and life grows
All will come to worship and give thanks as I do
And realize the great you do, just by being you

Drawn

Tags

,

Tell Me
Why is it that I thirst for you?
Why do I have a hunger for you that cannot be sated?
Why do you plague my mind?
Draw from me thoughts of passion and sin?
You who is as one with me…
A part of who I am and always have been…
Even in my confusion you are still there
You awaken in me desire
Fire
Rage
Why do my insides torment me so at the thought of you
Why does my heart ache to be near you once more?
My Body long again for your touch?
For your eyes to gaze into mine
To see love and fate and have all else fade away?
You draw screeches and cries of torment for every instant I am not near you
You drive me mad with your absence
If it truly makes the heart grow fonder then I have been away too long
For now I am delirious without you

To My Love

Tags

,

This poem is to the one I love
Whose infinite beauty resembles that
Of an angelic dove
Now and then until the end of time
I wish I could gaze upon her forever
Radiant and Divine
With a spirit of grace and her hold on me
For her I would dive into the
Deepest, Darkest Sea
It is an unseen force, a hidden power
That causes me to love her through every hour
And though I love her with all my heart
My cowardice causes fate to keep us apart
From this poem my feelings ring true
And I hope these words, with all my soul
May reach the person who
Through her life lights my world
And sometimes is all that keeps me going
And to her now my real feelings I am now showing

Her beauty unrivaled, her kindness unbridled
Yet her name unknown, my love
The one whose beauty resembles that of an angelic dove

Timeless Trouble

Tags

,

Small and tiny was that which held all the worlds’ woes
Why the gods teased man so only they can know
Hand crafted Pandora, so blessed by all
With one hand and curiosity gave way to the fall
From within her box the worlds’ ills spread
Through time and myth her legend has bled

In our time is a girl with an impish grin
Small and subtle it naught betrays all the worlds’ sin
Slight in frame, rare in name, unknown aim, wrought from spirit same
Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned
Beware she, darkness clad, god-kissed reborn