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Contrast review – A flawed, yet memorable experience

This post has not been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.

Developer/Publisher: Compulsion Games/Focus Home Interactive
Genre: Puzzle-platformer
Available on: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PC
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Mode(s): Single-player
Release date: November 15th, 2013

On Nov. 15, the day the PlayStation 4 launched in North America, PlayStation Plus members could download Contrast for free, and non-members could download the indie title for $14.99. When I launched Contrast for the first time on my brand new PlayStation 4, I had no idea what to expect. I knew it had something to do with shadows, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. I ended up enjoying the game a lot, although I wish it had been more polished.

The game follows a little girl named Didi and a mysterious woman named Dawn, who you play as. You quickly find out that no one else can see Dawn, and it’s easy to assume that she is Didi’s imaginary friend. Didi has a complicated childhood. Her parents are separated, she’s home alone a lot while her mom is out working as a singer in a nightclub, and she just wants her parents to be together and happy again. She frequently sneaks out of the house with Dawn to try to mend things between them. Dawn’s ability to shift into the shadows allows her to reach places that Didi could never reach alone.

The puzzles are generally simple, but some are pretty challenging. In a way, the puzzles remind me of the indie hit “Limbo” (There is an obvious homage to Limbo in one part of the game). I really enjoyed using Dawn to climb up shadows, especially when the shadows were people. It’s an awesome concept that really makes the game stand out, but sadly this isn’t enough to bring the game out of the dark shadows and into the light.

The main thing that kept me playing was the story. I was interested in what would happen to Didi and her family. Sadly, the game’s ending felt pretty abrupt and left me wanting more. In order to fully understand the story, one must find collectibles (newspaper clippings, etc.) that tell all about Dawn and who she used to be.

Contrast is a game that has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the finished product just isn’t something I could justify spending money on. If I wasn’t a PlayStation Plus member, I would never have played it, and that’s a shame. That being said, it just isn’t worth $14.99. It’s a game that simply feels unfinished. Perhaps it was rushed so it could be released on the launch day of the PS4.

Final thoughts

Gameplay: The gameplay consists of 2D and 3D puzzle-platforming. As fun as it is at first, the puzzles and checkpoints become very annoying later on, something that could have been avoided.

Appearance: The visuals aren’t remarkable. The environments are pretty, but I wish there was more to explore. Character animations are sometimes laughable.

Sound: The jazzy soundtrack really helps set the mood for the ‘20s noire setting. The voice acting is nothing more than “alright.”

Bottom line: This game just doesn’t live up to its potential. There is no way for me to justify anyone spending $14.99 on it. If you’re a Plus member and can download it for free, definitely give it a shot. While it has its fair share of problems, I still had a lot of fun playing Contrast.

Overall score:

60/100


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