Contrast Review – Shadow Complex

How clever can you be with Light and Shadows?

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The next generation of consoles has finally arrived and for my first game on the PS4 I selected Contrast. I have been anxiously awaiting this indie game because I love games that have a different stylization. I’m also a big fan of the jazz era, which complements the game design quite well.

Contrast is a departure from a traditional platformer. With its use of narrative, it combines a lot of different techniques with a rather clever game mechanic. The mixture of puzzles throughout the game will keep you engaged and wanting to see how the story will end.

Dawn and Didi

Contrast takes place in a world that looks like the 1920s, when jazz was beginning to take off and vaudeville, fairs and travelling circuses were still a good source of entertainment. You play as a character by the name of Dawn and she can do some extraordinary things when she has the appropriate light. Dawn is best friends with the only other person that seems to be able to see her, a little girl by the name of Didi.

The story is broken into a classic three act story and is somewhat of a cliché, while still being effective.  You begin the adventure by sneaking out of the house with Didi. This is when you learn that Dawn has the ability to shift in and out of shadows.  From the very start of the game, you quickly figure out that life isn’t that great for Didi; her mother, Kat, is an entertainer that works nights and her father, Johnny, is a screw up.  Throughout the game you help Didi try to keep her father out of trouble by helping Johnny fix the circus that he’s doing a lousy job of trying to put on.

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Once you get a hang of the controls, the only real hurdle is solving the puzzles throughout the game. A lot of the gameplay depends on how well you can navigate light and the shadows. It does help that Dawn and Didi are the only 3D characters while everyone else is a shadow. While playing the game you collect items that help you piece together who Dawn may be, and I will admit that I enjoyed the moment of revelation at the end.

This isn’t a very long game and it can be played in one sitting, if you’re used to platformers and understand how to solve the puzzles.  I think that infrequency in some of the checkpoints encourages you to just keep playing.

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My biggest complaint for the overall game is that it was very glitchy when I was playing it and I don’t know if it has anything to do with the port to the PS4. I do know that there was a patch that uploaded to my PS4 just before I finished playing the game. I can’t say that it solved all of the problems but I’m glad to see the developers are aware of the issues because it definitely detracts from the gameplay and the bugs I experienced were rather frustrating at times.

Overall Contrast is an entertaining stylized game that isn’t an intense adventure/platformer and can be enjoyed casually.

Contrast is available to PlayStation Plus members for free on the PS3 and PS4. It is also available on Steam with full controller support for the PC and Xbox Live Arcade.

The review was based on the retail version of Contrast for the PlayStation 4.

  • Story
  • Graphics
  • Gameplay
  • Sound
  • Value
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