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Review

Contrast Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • PS4
Aaron Sampson on Google+

Lost in shadow.

Contrast is a game concerned with intangible ideas: the substance of a shadow, and the makeup of a child's broken heart. As a mysterious figure named Dawn, you aid a young girl named Didi in her efforts to prevent her family from falling apart. You don't exist fully in Didi's reality; rather, she is the only person you can see and who can see you. Everyone else appears as a mere shadow projected on the wall, and you yourself have the ability to shift between a corporeal, three-dimensional existence and a silhouetted, two-dimensional one. Contrast conjures up a captivating and surreal mid-20th century European atmosphere of jazz clubs and cabaret singers, and its use of shadows is sometimes striking. But Contrast's puzzles and platforming rarely call for you to do more than go through the motions, and far too often, the roughness of its physics shatters the elegant ambiance of its world.

Didi's parents are on the rocks, and as you follow the intrepid Didi through town on her quest to keep her family together, the story of their troubled romance plays out in shadow vignettes. Noir-flavored dialogue gives the interactions of the troubled lovers a smoky edge; when Kat tells Johnny that he's "a carousel of broken dreams," you might feel like you're in the midst of an intoxicating, Casablanca-esque love story. And indeed, the game makes a few explicit references to that classic film.

Kat and Johnny's relationship has seen better days.

But these enticing glimpses of a rocky relationship between two strong-willed people aren't just for show. As the characters' large shadows play out their parts in these scenes, you can shift into a shadow yourself, leaping on their outstretched arms or their shoulders and using their movements to help you reach places you otherwise couldn't. You can leap onto just about any shadow on any wall, and a few basic puzzles require you to manipulate light sources so that objects cast shadows that you can use to your advantage. And in one elaborate and especially enjoyable sequence, you fill in for a princess puppet in a story about a brave, knight-rescuing princess that Didi's father cooks up to entertain his daughter. The imagery and dialogue of these shadow vignettes make Contrast a distinctive and intermittently seductive experience.

As you progress through the game, you earn a few new abilities that you must put to use to advance, including a dash move that lets you pass through thin shadows, and the ability to pick up boxes or spheres and shift them into shadow form. This latter ability factors into the occasional puzzle that offers a satisfying "aha!" moment as the pieces fall into place and you realize what you need to do to get the box to its destination.

Shifting into shadows is a neat trick. It's too bad Contrast doesn't do more with it.

But for the most part, what you need to do is plain as day, and once the pleasure of being in Contrast’s world has worn off, the act of carrying boxes around and pushing switches to make machinery do its thing becomes routine. The ability to shift objects in and out of shadow form also leads to frustration, because it's extremely common for Dawn to become stuck in the environment when snapping out of shadow form with an item in hand. You can usually get Dawn unstuck by leaping or dashing or just wobbling around for a bit, but the prevalence of this problem pulls you out of the mood Contrast's atmosphere and story strive to foster.

There are collectibles throughout Contrast that shed a bit of light on the narrative, but the ultimate explanation of Dawn's existence is cursory and unrewarding. And despite a few strong moments, the game more often flounders in its efforts to mix substance and shadow into an enjoyable cocktail. The alchemy of Contrast doesn't quite pay off, and in the end, the game feels as insubstantial as the shadows that populate its world.

The Good
Engrossing mid-20th-century European atmosphere
Juicy, pulpy dialogue
A few imaginative puzzles
The Bad
Mostly mundane gameplay
Clumsy physics clash with elegant ambiance
5
Mediocre
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Carolyn loves Casablanca and dreams of spending smoky nights in elegant jazz clubs but has not yet been to Europe. She played through the PlayStation 4 version of Contrast at the GameSpot offices. It took her about four hours.

Discussion

100 comments
megafitch
megafitch

Spoilers? Poor show.......the game itself is short and feels fairly clumsy in its execution. could have been a far better game, given the excellent concept and setting.

megafitch
megafitch

Spoilers in the video review? not cool... To be honest, as intoxicating as the game is on the surface, for me it gets wildly repetitive - and its criminally short. could have been executed far better.

Jock9
Jock9

For me this was at least a 7, for the fact there was no other games to download on PS4's PSN, except maybe Resogun which I got as well. I liked the atmosphere, and the European feel of early 1900's or earlier, if I'm incorrect on the setting. Yes, perhaps the shifting into shadows mechanic is underused but for an Indie title, and being one or the only main one on PSN right now, it's a fun, enjoyable game. I liked the characters, and the shady storyline involving the father. 


I would like to see more titles like Contrast on the PS4's PSN in the coming weeks, as we need new games Sony.

feral_warrior
feral_warrior

Five? Ouch. Well to each their own. I personally love the feel of the game and the era it is set in. Kind of like a mash up of BioShock and Lost in Shadow. =P It's a pretty neat indie game in my opinion.

thorn3000
thorn3000

well, I am sucker for atmosphere and this game had it - music, visuals, story, all made for the atmosphere...so 8 for me, the biggest downside is that it's short...for your average gamer would be a 6.5 likely, but of course it would depend on how much he/she spend on it which can offset shortness...

easykillzgaming
easykillzgaming

This game was a blast to play. Most of all its free! The gsame i can say was a big buggy in some parts but the overall story and gameplay was pretty decent. It was a little tough on some of the puzzles that you had to solve but it was worth the while once you figured out how to do them. The transistions from shadow to light made the game feellike paper mario.


For more gameplay and reviews check EKG on facebook and youtube!


https://www.youtube.com/user/EasyKillzGaming

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Easy-Killz-Gaming/190718417772195?ref=hl

flameon12346
flameon12346

This game still look like its fun. It look like it will bring me back to the PS2 days so I am still going to buy it since it interest me and bring something new.

flameon12346
flameon12346

Umm guys, didn't they put the S for spoilers at the beginning of the video to let y'all know that the video might contain spoilers? So why are people complaining that the video spoiler the ending if they mention that it contain spoilers?

moesuir
moesuir

I love how I can now play this "NEXT GEN" PoS4 game on my last gen Xbox 360.

Halloll
Halloll

I like how Carolyn gave a simple reference to the Wii game Lost in Shadow.

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

I'll pick it up on a steam sale one day for like 2 bucks.... looks good enough for a playthrough

ogara0c9
ogara0c9

Don't worry folks, the final clip in the review is not an ending spoiler.  I'm actually curious now as I never saw this scene in my play-though.

slainta
slainta

"Carolyn loves Casablanca and dreams of spending smoky nights in elegant jazz clubs but has not yet been to Europe"? Casablanca is in Morocco, Africa.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

I remember the time when some scorned fans railed at gaming sites for not highlighting Mass Effect III's endings in their reviews, even though such highlights would have technically been a spoiler.

Really, some gamers make rather expedient arguments to prop up their allegations of malpractice on the part of salaried reviewers.

natalieyan
natalieyan

so this personmade this video review just to let us not buy the game? f**king spoilers right at the end when the score pops up

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

I usually don't comment much on a score but this seems unusually harsh for a small budget, discount price, indie game that seems to do a lot of interesting things...  seriously this reviewer is wildly inconsistent with their reasoning behind scores...



what_is_game
what_is_game

Oh no...nonono...Would somebody PLEASE fire ms. Petit already?!

This is getting ridiculous.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

Unlike some of you, I am perfectly fine with any spoilers - it just means that I don't have to play the game to know the story.

To be frank, I personally find concerns with spoilers to be rather petty. These are just consumer products, nothing worth getting upset over.

moldyspud
moldyspud

Wow, this person Petit has never been right about a review. Also, putting spoilers in a review is worse than murder. Why is this person still employed?

TheGrumold
TheGrumold

WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU PUT THE ENDING IN YOUR REVIEW????

*** ANYONE READING THIS BEFORE VIEWING: do NOT watch until the end ***


I know you did not like the game Mrs.Petit, but it is still a completely unprofessional way of doing things.

I am terribly disappointed.


warriors30
warriors30

I'm not getting much out of the gameplay, but I definitely love the art style. Looks like it would be fun for a couple of hours.

Nightflash28
Nightflash28

@moesuir Your comment is bad and you should feel bad.
At least extend your logic to all other multiplat / gen-crossing games that are not only coming to the PS4 but also Xbox One.

DinoBuster
DinoBuster

@Halloll Yeah. I read about the concept before and immediately thought of that game. Given how obscure that game was, chances are the devs for this didn't even know it existed. "WE GOT THIS COOOL IDEA WHERE YOU CONTROL YOUR SHADOW!!!" Done already.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@slainta  

Morocco is in a geo-political flux. If you are referring to the continent that Morocco is on, then you may be correct - but Morocco is culturally more European than it is African.

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

@Gelugon_baat 

Fans complaining about an ending is an expected thing on the internet. What you don't expect is a professional critic to spoil endings in her release-day reviews.


Your attempt to mask your total lack of logic with embellished articulation isn't working. But then, I guess if you can't see how spoilers are a bad thing, then you're alien to me, and arguing with you is completely pointless. The entire Gamespot community evidently has different values and priorities to you, Gelugon.

Though, I suppose that's not always a bad thing, when I consider this community...

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@nl_skipper  

You may want to be reminded that different games may well elicit different responses from the same one person. 

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@what_is_game  

You might want to get used to people that you don't like. Besides, you should be reminded that you are not Petit's employer.

starjet905
starjet905

@Gelugon_baatPlease tell me you're a troll. Just because you're okay with spoilers, do you honestly expect everyone to be?

" I don't have to play the game to know the story."

That's well and good for you. But some people like to know the story while playing the game. You know, the way it was made by the developers for people to play?

"These are just consumer products, nothing worth getting upset over."

And someone spoiling a game is just taking the value out of the said consumer product, making the spender's money a waste. It's not upto you to decide what people consider valuable in a product.

strawhat1987
strawhat1987

@Gelugon_baat if you are fine with spoilers its up to you to look them up on you own but you just don't do that in reviews, its just unprofessional.

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

@Gelugon_baat

We're here for one reason: games. So if coming here spoils one of those games then that gives us a right to complain.

mapulaproasta
mapulaproasta

@Gelugon_baat What a dumb comment. So you say that is perfectly fine to spoil the end for everybody when it comes to story driven games. You are just as dumb as Petit. GTFO 

Forcecaster
Forcecaster

@TheGrumold The very reason why I stopped watching Review videos. I read the reviews and in some cases watch the videos, but do not watch them on GS.

DJMist
DJMist

@TheGrumold You should be terribly disappointed with the PS4 launch games.. The only game above 8 is NBA2k14 and it is a multiplatform  title.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@TheGrumold 
How do you know that the scene is the ending?

If you do, then you may not realize this, but you are already contributing to the spoilers with your outburst.

EcksTheory
EcksTheory

@Gelugon_baat @slainta Theres no "maybe" correct about it, he is correct, its in Africa! just because its right next door doesnt make it part of Europe. By that logic, Canada is a part of the USA.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@MooncalfReviews 

"Lack of logic" really? Tell that to the people who know that the "ending" shown is not the ending at all - it is a red-herring scene.

Also, it sure feels good that you saw what seemed to be an opportunity to lambast and you took it, eh?

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@starjet905

I am trolling, but that doesn't mean that I mean less of what I have said. Also, you may want to be reminded that value is ultimately a matter of perception and opinion.

I am not going to change my opinion that concerns about spoilers are petty. Also, I personally don't see story as adding significant value to a game - especially when I can just know about the story elsewhere, e.g. reading/watching spoilers.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@strawhat1987

There is no official convention on game reviews that clearly states that having spoilers are "unprofessional".

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@mapulaproasta 

You call others "dumb" because you don't like other people. Really, there are plenty of intolerant people like you. Also, it's quite a waste of time to tell others to "GTFO" on the Internet - how clichéd of you.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@jourideblaere

Why are you bringing the Turks in?

Also, I have done some research into Morocco, and I am not convinced that it is culturally more African than European.

I am making my argument after observing the idiosyncrasies of typical African, Arab and European cultures, and I am of the opinion that Morocco is inspired more by the last culture, especially in its form of governance and choices of habitation/housing.

What are you making your argument on?

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@EcksTheory  

If you approach the matter with geographical knowledge in mind, then definitely Slainta is correct - but this is not merely a geographical matter, it is also cultural.

With that said, Canada is very close to the USA in terms of culture.

Also, Morocco certainly is not on the European continent, but you may want to be reminded that Canada is on the same continent as the USA. They are not appropriate analogies.

EcksTheory
EcksTheory

@Gelugon_baat @what_is_game Concerns about not having plot details revealed are now "petty"? Yeah, theres nothing I like more than having have the fun ripped away from me by a fucking arsehole!

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@what_is_game  

I don't see them as "legit criticism" - I see them as indignant, petty complaints. Despite your labeling of "bullshit argument", I will repeat this again: concerns about spoilers are petty things.

See? I have the right to express myself too - and I certainly will repeat that again if another of the likes of you strongly and expressly disagrees.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@starjet905  

You should be asking that question about "ruining" and such at the reviewer.

However, if you want an answer, then consider the furore over Mass Effect 3's ending. There were people who just mentioned the endings outright, when embellishing their complaints that the endings were not satisfactory and made light of their decisions throughout the three games.

Would you pose the same question at them, when they are arguing that they are not receiving the value they wanted from the game?

Returning to this review again, in case you don't know, that is not the ending.

If you are going to accuse others of being "immature", you should have had the "maturity" yourself to invest effort into verifying whether that is truly the ending that was being shown.

starjet905
starjet905

@Gelugon_baat @starjet905 "Personally" being the keyword there. It's all well and good for you to consider that story doesn't add significant value. But that's not the same for everyone, so why are you trying to have it ruined for those who do consider it as a significant value? Or are you just an immature kid who thinks everyone should live by your standards?

Contrast More Info

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  • First Released
    • PC
    • PS3
    • + 3 more
    • PS4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Contrast is a 2D/3D puzzle platformer in which you can shift between the striking 3D fantasy world and the mysterious 2D shadowscape.
    6.8
    Average User RatingOut of 92 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Contrast
    Developed by:
    Compulsion Games
    Published by:
    Focus Home Interactive, Zoo Corporation, Compulsion Games
    Genres:
    Action, Puzzle
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco