Contrast video review – shadowy puzzles, short game

Contrast is available now on PS4 and PC platforms and offers some puzzling adventures with character Didi and her imaginary friend. It’s available for £12, and looks pretty with its 1920s styling. However, with such a short game on offer, is it worthy of your time and money. Take a look at our Contrast video review for the full picture.

Contrast review:

Today we’re taking a look at Compulsion Games’ 1920s inspired platform puzzle game Contrast which thrusts players into the shoes of an imaginary friend of the main character Didi , a young girl who sets out on an adventure to fix her parents troubles and make things right! The story is rather sweet in a charming way, and is told via shadow projections on walls depicting moments of anger, brutality, joy and sadness. Didi seems to exist in an alternate plane alongside her helper Dawn who players control and solve a number of puzzles. Not much is really explained beyond the core story aside from a number of collectible scraps, players can choose to locate throughout each level and piece together some sort of back story.

Contrast is set within a highly stylized jazz fuelled world of the 1920s and offers some excellent looking locales which players can move around freely. However, there’s not much to explore in each area as the game’s progress is dominated by the story with little room for much deviation. The biggest feature of the game is being able to use the shadows as an alternative method of passage , enabling Dawn to reach new areas. At the press of a button, and when standing in the correct position next to a wall, Dawn can jump into the shadow world and platform jump her way up the shapes of the shadows. As the story progresses, the shadows become more complex to navigate, and in tune with the numerous puzzles, means players have to adapt well to figuring things out beyond the obvious. The idea works well for the most part, although it does feel a little hit and miss when entering the shadow plane. There are several moments where failure is as a result of poor controls rather than a lack of skill, although that said, the game’s checkpoint system is very forgiving.

The puzzles themselves are fairly accomplished making good use of the real and shadow planes. Despite some vague moments here and there , they are not too taxing which is a good thing in this instance because the game does exude an all ages appeal.

Graphically, the game’s visuals are very impressive from an artistic standpoint with some great looking locations set within a surreal and unexplained setting.  The game runs pretty smoothly, although the biggest issue seems to stem from the camera at times not being as comfortable as it could be.

Audio is of a highly stylized tone with some jazzy ambience and wooden, but effective film noir  dialogue. It all works well together and makes for a welcome change to the usual classical score one would expect.

In terms of length, the game does weigh in at around four to five hours and offers no real incentive to replay again aside from nabbing collectibles and achievements. Levels can be replayed individually if desired, and really points to a one play game.

Contrast is a neat  but rather bare excursion into the surreal and pleasant looking world of Didi and her family although there’s very little information provided for the player character Dawn which makes for quite a detached relationship. The action of jumping in and out of the shadows is quite well realized and fused neatly with some lateral but non taxing puzzles which makes the game fairly accessible to most audiences. However, the overall length of the game is a bit of a disappointment, especially for the asking price and in relation to the fact the game looks very nice but is perhaps lacking in overall substance.  In this regard, it would be recommended to grab the game for free as a Playstation Plus subscriber, or wait until the game is reduced in price on Steam.

Score 6/10 – Review by Robert Cram





Written by: Rob Cram

Rob Cram has hundreds of video game reviews, thousands of articles under his belt with years of experience in gaming and tech. He aims to remain fair and free from publisher/developer influence. With his extensive knowledge, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement with his views are entirely optional. He might have a bias towards cyberpunk.