Although Summer officially ended a little over a week ago, mine has just drawn to a close. Today, and over the next few days, I aim to overhaul this site completely. I am going to try not to spend too long rehashing old topics. But I want to make all my page hubs uniform, and go back and edit and update old documents. I do aim to still write new articles as well. Thank you for your patience in this matter, and your ongoing readership.
I turned the loose list of social commentary into a hub. Some pages have been dismantled, and posts backdated in their places. Thank you for your patience as I worked on it. Also, much like my gaming, I am working to produce better works in this arena as well.
I am taking another day this month to recover some oomph, but this time I have a lot on my mind. This round of editing will not be as rapid fire as my Poetry page edit. I still wish to be done by days’ end. I aim to lay out my social commentary hub much like my gaming and aforementioned poetry hubs. Stay tuned.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Slideshow images taken from within game by author
Other images from Compulsion Games, Contrast website, and related press kit
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
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
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
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!
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