Review: Contrast for Xbox One

Posted on September 29, 2014 by Alan Walsh

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Contrast is a beautiful game set in 1920’s Paris, featuring jazzy music and a new aspect of gameplay. This aspect of gameplay is how the game is a 3D adventure story with a 2D Puzzle-Platformer twist. Contrast is developed by Compulsion Games and was published via Microsoft’s ID@Xbox program for Xbox One, the platform I’m basing my review on. The game is also available for Xbox 360 through Xbox Live Arcade and on PS3, PS4 and Steam on PC.
In Contrast, we play as Dawn, an imaginary friend to the games main character, Didi. Didi is a nine year old girl who is much wiser than her age and we see this initially in the game when her Mother (a singing diva lady known as Kat who’s big in the 1920’s burlesque entertainment business) informs Didi not to sneak out again to watch her perform. It’s Kats big night at the ‘The Ghost Note’, the top venue at town. Didi also asks her Mother a lot if her father will ever be returning home (they’re separated due to money problems) which gives us a good sense of what the story is about.
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As Dawn, it is your job to support Didi, help her out whenever you can. Nobody except Didi can see Dawn and Dawn can only see the shadows of everyone else except Didi who you see in full. There’s one thing that Didi wants and that’s for her parents to be back together. As you progress through the game, you will be trying to push Didi’s Mom (Kat) and Dad (Johnny) to get back together, whether it’s making Dad look good in front of his investors for his show, or Didi convincing them to get back together, that’s your aim. Johnny is trying to put on a circus show featuring a very talented magician known as ‘ The Great Vincenzo’ but his talents are not at all cheap. That’s why Johnny has investors paying big money into the show, however with these investors tight on what they give and Vincenzo requiring a big lump of cash, this is quite the challenge for Johnny. Johnny needs to attract the big crowds to his circus because without Vincenzo his show isn’t that great at all. He needs to overcome this challenge if he plans to get back with Kat. Johnny really wants to get back with Kat and of course Didi wants them back together too, however Kat doesn’t like all the big opportunities he gets involved in because when they were together, they never once paid off. He always said the next one was the big one but it never turned out to be the case.

The Gameplay mechanics may feel slightly confusing at the start but once you get into them, you know what you’re doing. This is when you switch from 3D adventure into 2D Puzzle-Platformer as you become part of the ‘shadows’. You use the shadows to reach certain areas and heights as you progress through the game. This also relates to various puzzles, you’ll find many areas where you have to adjust light by moving objects in 3D Adventure mode and then get to the relevant area in 2D Puzzle-Platformer mode. Sometimes you’ll be timed too, meaning once you change light in the 3D Adventure mode, you’ll need to switch to 2D Puzzle-Platformer and reach the area before the light re-adjusts and messes with your shadow. It may seem like a lot of switching around but when you pick up the controller and start playing you’ll soon realise that all of this is seamless and fits into the game. It makes the game more immersive and links up with that title of ‘Contrast’ which represents this differentiation of light and shadow.

Some of the puzzles in Contrast I found pretty challenging and took a long time for me to get by. It involves a lot of tricking about with various things to try and move onto the next section. Sometimes, it can get frustrating and I found myself taking breaks here and there and going back to it later to try to get by parts. The puzzles are not impossible, nor are they too easy either. However, completing them does give you a sense of accomplishment and you always want to know what’s going to happen next in the story and that is the push factor that makes you complete these puzzles. They may have been tough and provoking at times, but they’re not going to prevent you from returning to the game.

Contrast features an excellent soundtrack, I absolutely love the jazzy music you hear as you play the game. It is what sets that 1920’s Paris tone and atmosphere. It’s a delight to listen to and when you hear Laura Ellis who provides the singing voice of Kat it makes you feel part of this immersive, exquisite world that is in ‘Contrast’. The ‘film noir’ style that this game takes from its music, to voice acting and sense of style within this story of Didi and her parents make Contrast this exquisite atmosphere one you want to explore and as you play, you wish there was more to explore.

Contrast features three Acts, none of which are too long and can be completed within a few hours (depending on your pace and puzzle skills) making the game feel short but at the same time, because of its story, sweet. The game also has some collectibles which provide some little extra details about the story but really you’ll more likely find yourself going for these just to get the Achievements but they add some extra gameplay value which is a good thing. On Xbox One, ‘Contrast’ features 22 Achievements worth 1000 Gamerscore. This also makes the game enticing to Achievement Hunters (like myself!). So the big questions, is it worth it for $14.99/€14.99/£11.99? Absolutely. I feel the world, atmosphere, story and of course the music, which is one of my favourite things about ‘Contrast’ make this a great game well worth the price tag.
– Great, dynamic story. You just want to find out what happens!
– Music is fantastic! If you like jazz you’re going to love this.
– 1920’s makes such a great era for this game to be set in. The style, music and dialogue makes it really enjoyable!
– Affordable price tag for gamers!
– Achievements aren’t too difficult and add to the game.
– Many of the puzzles can be very difficult and can become frustrating. Also makes levels feel repetitive sometimes.
Overall ‘Contrast’ is a fantastic game and I loved reviewing it. The story and music were really the highlights for me in this one. I’m also thrilled to make this the first Rectify Gaming game review! We hope to do many more of these in the future! Rectify Gaming are extremely proud to give ‘Contrast’ for Xbox One an 8.5/10.

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