On the run up to the Playstation 4 being released, gamers were beyond excited for the staggeringly good line up that Playstation Plus was serving up for launch day. Resogun and Driveclub? For free?! As we all know, sadly at the last hurdle it was announced that Driveclub needed some more polish and would be delayed until early 2014. Enter Contrast. When we first posted a news item about a cool looking little indie game from Compulsion Games in early November we had no idea that it would step out of the shadows and be one of the main launch day titles for PS4. The game would find itself in millions of living rooms, standing alongside the next gen powerhouse that is Resogun. Some prematurely jumped the gun and moaned about the loss of Driveclub and felt hard done by. Either way, Contrast had everyone’s attention.
So, did Contrast deserve its place in the spotlight?
Yes, yes, yes and yes. Contrast is a beautiful, engrossing and quietly enthralling experience. You play as Dawn, an imaginary friend to a little girl called Didi. The 2 of you appear as 3D characters navigating through a vaudevillian world set in the 1920s. As Didi’s imaginary friend, your purpose is to help her good hearted but sadly dysfunctional family. Where Contrast carves its own personality is that all the other characters appear as shadows on walls, despite acting the same as normal people would. You can then shift into these walls (using the button), and use the reflections to get to heights you need to be. If the shadows don’t contain a perfect human or object shaped staircase for you to advance, you can use nearby objects to manipulate the shapes, such as spotlights and film projectors. This is all done in a 2D environment. Whether you are fixing fairground rides or simply gathering collectibles, it’s incredibly clever clicking between 3D and 2D and is just one of the many reasons Contrast gets things right. On top of that, you’re cocooned in a gorgeous noir art style that truly compliments the charming story and intelligent mechanics.
At its core, Contrast is a puzzle platformer. There are some real conundrums here, but all feel a joy to complete. The puzzles can be perplexing, but when you decipher the mystery in front of you, you’ll feel at times foolish that you didn’t see something so obvious at first glance. The hardest part is getting the shade on buildings to corral in a way that sits perfectly for you to jump on to.
Contrast consists of 3 acts, and if there was to be any criticism at all, it would be that I wish I could have stayed longer. In a world prevalent with First Person Shooters and Free to Play games that aren’t actually free at all, Contrast is refreshing in its originality and it’s hard to not want to prolong the adventure. For those wanting to extend their game time and boost their PS4 trophy count, the icing on the cake comes in the form of 21 bronze trophies, all of which can be collected on your peregrination through a game that only ever challenges you in a polite, friendly way.
Contrast is an illuminating experience. It’s a lovely, gleaming escapade where even in its shadows, light shines brightly.
Let there be light.
Punk rating: 8.5/10