Review – Contrast

Contrast is a puzzle-platformer, developed by Compulsion Games and published by Focus Home interactive. It is available now on Xbox 360, PS3, and PS4. The game is set in a noir world, with an amazing art style and is a very different from an average puzzle game.

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You take the role of Dawn, who is the imaginary friend of a little girl named Didi. Dawn is able to move about the world in 3D, but can also jump into the shadows and use the shadows of platforms or ledges to reach places that she would not be able to otherwise. While in the 3D world, you are able to control different light sources. This can create a proper shadow platform, opening up paths on walls to reach new areas. Collectibles are also scattered around the world that offer insight to the games characters and the world they live in.

Contrast begins in Didi’s room where her mother, Kat, is telling her not to sneak out of the house anymore. Didi then asks her mother if the father is going to return to them. Kat doesn’t know the answer to this, but assures Didi that she will be back before Didi wakes up. Once Kat leaves, Didi sneaks out of the house with Dawns help to the Ghost Note, a night club where her mother is performing a musical number. This is where you will first take control of Dawn and learn to move in and out of the shadows.

After the show, Didi over hears her mother talking to the father about a big score coming up and that things will be different this time. This sparks Didi’s interest and you begin to follow her father. From there on, Didi is out to fix her broken family.

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The story telling is captivating and driven by the fact that Didi and Dawn are the only characters who appear in 3D. All other characters in the game appear only as shadows against walls, but they still interact with the world around them as though they were “real” like Dawn or Didi. This element makes it a more personal experience and adds to the whole noir vibe of the game.

Gameplay is mostly standard compared to other platformers, but it is the jumping and phasing into the shadows that makes Contrast stand out as something new and fresh. There are also a few abilities to help you along the way, such as a dash move that lets Dawn pass through thin shadows, or the ability to pick up boxes and spheres to shift them into shadow form. The game’s puzzles and platforming sections are often very clever and fun to solve. The controls themselves are tight and responsive, while also remaining simple and easy to master. If you miss a jump while moving through the levels, you definitely won’t be able to blame it on the controls.

The only real downside of Contrast is its length, clocking in at around three to four hours after having done just about everything there is to do. This is problematic, considering the price of admission is fifteen dollars. Overall, Contrast is an enjoyable ride and is a game that you should play at least once. You will be doing yourself a favor by experiencing it.

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Graphics
The colors are soft and easy on the eyes, but the most impressive feat is the contrast between the shadows and light of lamps in the city streets.

Sound
Truly the best part of the game. The song in the intro and title screen is awesome! Jazzy lounge music sets the moods and almost makes you want a stiff drink and a smoke. The voice acting as well is really well done, and since all the characters but Dawn and Didi are shadows on the walls it forces you to use your imagination.

Story
The story telling is captivating and driven by the fact that Didi and Dawn are the only characters who appear in 3D. It really makes for a more personal experience and adds to the whole noir vibe of the game.

Gameplay
Jumping and dashing feel good and responsive. The ability to move lighted objects and make a statue or table shadow bigger or smaller in the background is a nice and refreshing take on platforming. There are a few tricky sections that will definitely put your skills to the test.

Overall
It’s hard to explain just how beautiful this game is in motion and how well the shadow mechanics play out. From the orange glowing jazz-accompanied buildings, to its dark and depressing story situations. Contrast is an enjoyable ride and is a game that you should play at least once. You will be doing yourself a favor by experiencing it.

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Matt Osborn (17 Posts)

Co-Host of Frag Tag Radio. Author on FragTagRadio.Com.


  • KevinFTR

    I played this a touch on PS4 in a Gamestop while waiting to pick up my Xbox One. The concept of switching from the physical world and interacting with the shadow world. Since it’s not on the One, need to fire up my 360, and download this game.

    • http://fragtagradio.com/ Pradius

      It’s def worth the download. Very original and fun to play.

  • Robbie Watson aka Gore

    I played the trial and liked it but I have so many games to play and so little time to play them.

    • http://fragtagradio.com/ Pradius

      Definitely a lot of good games out there right now. If you like platformers. Check out Contrast.

  • YoDaNaSoDa

    I remember seeing this on 360… glad i finally got around to checking it out on xb1! Fun game.

    • http://fragtagradio.com/ Pradius

      It is fun! I like it even better on Xbox One.

  • blainetezim

    awesome game! got it on 360 and now again on xb1!

    • http://fragtagradio.com/ Pradius

      That’s great! You must really enjoy the game!