I’ve finally been giving my PS4 some play time last week — seriously, this has to be the worst launch lineup I’ve ever seen! And while it’s not an exclusive, I’ve been looking forward to playing Contrast since I saw a teaser. Given that it’s available on PS4, 360 & PC, I determined I’d pick the console that it was cheapest on.
I’m not entirely sure about what era the game is set in, but I think it’s the 20’s or 30’s. The time of mobsters & cabarets. One of the things that most interested me in the game was the setting & music. You don’t typically see a lot of games set during the Roaring 20’s. Most games are either in a fantasy setting, modern or future times. The game definitely has a noir feel to it. The music is also well-placed, with a mix of jazz & swing. It all has this moody sort of atmosphere without feeling oppressive.
The story of the game so far is that you control Dawn, the imaginary friend of a girl named Didi. Dawn helps Didi get past obstacles to help her parents. I’m only up to the second act, but the first involved Didi getting her parents back together. The second seems to focus on fixing Didi’s dad’s circus so he can pay back the mob. There are collectibles scattered around the game world that fleshes out the story a bit more, like finding a letter from Social Services threatening to take Didi away from her mom.
The game is a puzzle-platformer with an interesting twist: Dawn can morph into the shadows. When she shifts into the shadows, she’s able to use the shadows as if they were tangible things. So the shadow of a statue becomes either an obstacle or platform to reach her goal. The puzzle aspect comes from having to move objects in the environment to manipulate the shadows so Dawn can reach her goal.
While I’ve enjoyed the game so far, there do seem to be a fair number of bugs. Dawn can easily get lodged in the scenery, getting stuck in her falling animation. While so far I haven’t encountered a time when I couldn’t get unstuck by using Dawn’s dash ability, it’s a little annoying. I also have trouble with these sections where Dawn can’t enter a room unless she shifts. There’s like a forcefield on the door, which seems pretty arbitrary to me. A few times my camera bugged out & I couldn’t see Dawn anymore, but it was still able to move & shift. I also encountered a sound bug where, after moving a cart to adjust the shadows, the sound of the cart moving kept playing until I reached a save point So while these bugs were annoying, none of them so far have been game-breaking.
I also wanted to mention that it’s been an interesting experience still learning the PS4 controller. My previous game, Flower, didn’t require much in the way of button presses. Pressing any button worked. But Contrast has a traditional control scheme. I know that X is the bottom button, but I sometimes have to check to remember which one is the O & Square buttons.
Depending on how my puzzle-solving mind works, I don’t foresee this being a long game. I think it’s only three acts. So hopefully I have a verdict soon.