It’s probably a bit funny that I’m talking about the first game I completed on the PlayStation 4 a little under a year after I purchased one, but that’s just how far behind I am in my writing. The first game I completed was the game Contrast it was one of the first PS4 games given out with a PlayStation Plus subscription and was thus one of the first games that I completed.Was my first experience positive or negative?
Contrast‘s story is a bit odd. It takes place in a rather mysterious world that has a noir atmosphere. You play Dawn, who appears at first to be the imaginary friend of a young girl named Didi. The main goal of the story is rather mundane on the surface, as it is basically about getting your mother and father back together again.
This is accomplished in various steps throughout.To start you have to find out where your father went. You then have to help your father set his life right and out of the influence of the mob by starting his circus.Through the course of the game though you learn about Didi’s real lineage and also how Dawn is not just an imaginary friend, but one who gained the ability to shift in between worlds.
The gameplay is a mix of puzzle solving and platformer. The main mechanic of the game is to be able to use shadows as solid platforms to gain access to other areas. This can be done by the normal lights in the game or by turning on or manipulating lights in order to create shadow platforms to reach your desired goal. There are also various collectibles in the game that can be collected to help flesh out the world a little and give you a bit more information about the story of the game.
Easily the main theme of the game is family. Didi seems to want a complete family in her life. She is at the start of the game waiting for her father to come back home. However,she learns that her mother kicked her father out because he got in trouble for bouncing checks. So Didi sets out to get her parents back together again and of course needs a lot of your help to be able to do it. Didi’s desire to have a “whole family” is really what motivates the actions that you take as Dawn.
- That’s Some Style – The style and art direction of this game is really appealing. It’s a shame that there wasn’t more of it to explore, but the noir atmosphere in its almost spooky abandoned setting was enjoyable to traverse.
- It’s Called Contrast for a Reason – The shadow puzzles were a pretty clever mechanic and utilized fairly well. It made for a pretty fun way to climb up unusual platforms, like men playing saxophones.
- If I Ran the Circus – The story of the game was cute, but a little different. I did enjoy it, but it always felt like you were cleaning up after other people’s mistakes making their story a success rather than really engaging on your own story. It also felt hard to connect to characters that you never really got to see, so it made helping them feel even more detached.
- How Does This World Work Again? – I felt that I really didn’t understand how the world worked by the end of the game. Dawn, Didi, and one other character are the only ones you get to see in 3D. Yet all the rest of the world is in 3D and people are obviously interacting with these 3D objects. My best theory is that there are two parallel worlds and Dawn in trapped in one of these which gives her the power to manipulate shadows. She is unable to see people who are in the other “world” except for their shadows. Didi and the other character are exceptions and can see people in both “worlds”. I could be horribly off base on this though.
- Please Sir May I Have Some More – Let’s face it, the game for all the enjoyment I had out of it was very very short. The world is beautiful, but it has very few locations to explore. The story is kind of a strange cute, but also very short. In some ways this is only a bad thing because Contrast was enjoyable and you wanted more. In others ways it didn’t really feel like a completely realized game or at least a completely realized game world.
- Shadow Jumping – I noticed that sometimes it was somewhat difficult to jump on some of the shadows. It wasn’t anything huge, but was an annoyance sometimes. This was particularly true of the moving shadows while trying to move or jump on or off of them.
Contrast is a rather enjoyable, but very short game. It has a very artistic world and has a fairly unique game play mechanic. The story is also enjoyable, but may not be for everyone. Getting it as part of PlayStation Plus makes this game a definite must play in my mind, but I’m not sure I’d jump for the 15$ price tag it is offered for. Maybe at 10$ or lower I’d fully recommend, but otherwise I’d only recommend if the drawbacks of the game don’t discourage you. It’s enjoyable, but the shortness does detract enough to make me reluctant to recommend at full price.