The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Compulsion Games' striking indie platformer/puzzler presents
players with an irresistible mix of themes and aesthetics. The setting blends 1920s
vaudeville with the film noire of the 1940s. The player travels seamlessly between
the colorful 3D world and the moving shadows that paint its surfaces. The story
follows a precocious little girl named Didi, but contains some surprisingly adult
twists. Contrast doesn't have the biggest budget – nor did it receive the most attention at E3 – but it's the title that stuck with me the most.
Players take on the role of Didi's imaginary friend, Dawn, who
the little girl invented to help cope with a traumatic event in her past. These
events play out as shadows on the environments around Dawn, as she follows
Didi around the world and solves puzzles. Being imaginary, Dawn can also
transform into a shadow herself, allowing her to traverse the silhouettes cast
by other objects. For example, one area requires Dawn to climb up to the rooftop
of a building overlooking a courtyard. In the middle of the courtyard, a spinning
carousel casts shadows of the horses onto the surrounding buildings, which
provide moving platforms for me to jump across. When I get to a gap that's too
large to cross, Didi holds a stick above her head, which provides a temporary
bridge to my objective.
Compulsion Games studio head Guillaume Provost says that the game is
broken up into three acts, each of which of which features new locations,
puzzle mechanics, and story twists. Provost says Contrast will provide players
with a stream of new puzzles and experiences, and that he'd rather keep the
game short than repeat the same tricks.
Contrast was one of the first games approved on Steam
Greenlight, and Provost says that fans responded positively to the jazz song used
in one of the trailers, performed by singer Laura Ellis. Because of the fan
feedback, the developer has composed an all-original soundtrack that Ellis will
be performing. We get a chance to hear one of these songs in a cabaret bar in
an early level of the game. After finding and shining a series of spotlights at
the empty stage to reveal the ghostly shadows of a band, the silhouettes launch
into a full song, complete with a seductive dance number from the sultry,
Jessica Rabbit-esque singer.
I don't want to give away too much of the story, but the
sequences I saw revealed some of the struggles facing Didi's parents, who
despite their flaws, love their daughter. Like Papo & Yo, Contrast is
another indie game that shows mature topics can be explored in games in a
meaningful way, and I'm eager to see where the story leads.
Contrast's unique visual style, original music, and innovative
gameplay make a compelling package for players, and the enthusiasm of Provost while
sharing his demo reminded me why I love indie games so much. Contrast will be
available on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 later this year, and will be a launch game
for the PS4. If you're a fan of unique indie games, Contrast should definitely
be on your radar.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.
looks very steampunk