Review: Contrast

Despite being sick, I spent a few hours playing games for Extra Life (thanks to everyone who helped me reach my fundraising goal!). I played some of Slender: The Arrival, and I started and finished Contrast.

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I’ve been wanting to play Contrast since the PS4 was released. My boyfriend and I were killing time before a movie one night, and decided to check out the gaming stuff at Best Buy. It was during the holiday season, and I was looking at some keyboards and gaming mice. Since it was on display, I decided to fiddle around with the PS4. Of course, neither the PS4 or the Xbox One had a big launch library, so the only game I was interested in playing at the time was Contrast. I got a taste of the first level or so, and I really enjoyed it. However, I kind of forgot about it, since I assumed the game wasn’t on any of my platforms. But Contrast came out on Steam a couple of weeks ago, and I bought it then.

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In Contrast, you play as Dawn–an acrobat, and the invisible friend of a young girl named Didi. Didi’s family has some problems–her parents are estranged, and Didi is often left alone at night. When her father returns to the city, though, it launches the start of the game. From the beginning, the visual world of Contrast is amazing. It takes place in a beautiful 1920s setting, and  has a beautiful animation style. Thee only two characters we see are Didi and Dawn. All other characters manifest as shadows on the wall–which sounds a little strange, until you realize that the shadows are one of the most dynamic parts of Contrast. The game world is split between a colorful 3D world and another universe that exists in its shadows

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At its core, Contrast is a puzzle-game. The shadows are a key element of the game. As Dawn, you can phase in and out of the shadow universe, scaling and manipulating shadows to access different places and solve puzzles. It’s been a while since I played a game as that was as fun to play as this one. I loved phasing in and out of shadows and I enjoyed the kind of thinking that this gameplay encourages. Contrast is about putting things–including Didi’s family–back together.

There have been some complaints in reviews about the gameplay being buggy. I didn’t experience any bugs, though, so it might have been cleaned up for the Steam release. I also read a lot of criticism about the games controls, saying that it made for a difficult play experience. I may have experienced some of that…though, at the time, I just chalked it up to player issues :).

If you haven’t picked up Contrast yet, you definitely should. It’s led by pretty great female characters (even though you’re a silent protagonist), and it has a delightful blend of great art and story-telling. The game play can be trying at times, but it’s always rewarding. Contrast is a short puzzle game, which makes it great for people who don’t spend much time playing video games. If you want to get into gaming, or just spend more time with it, then you should definitely pick up Contrast. It’s also a great way for the more dedicated gamer to spend an afternoon.

4 thoughts on “Review: Contrast

  1. Pingback: 2014 Year in Review: Games and Comics | Geekphoria

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