Just a shadow of what it could be
I love playing beta builds of games. Knowing the project isn’t finished means you can look past most of the bugs, and just let your mind reel with the possibilities the game’s setting and mechanics suggest for the final product.
Contrast gives that kind of pleasure, followed by the disheartening realisation that this IS the final product. It’s buggy, very short and generally feels unfinished – but the style, setting, characters and central mechanic have all the makings of a classic.
You play as Dawn, the “imaginary” friend of an adventurous young girl whose mother is a cabaret singer in a delightfully warped version of the 1920s. The story is fairly simple, as you help the girl, Didi, bail her parents out of financial and personal scrapes. Given the short time we spend with them, the characters are fairly well drawn, flawed but likeable – which is a great analogy for the game as a whole, actually.
An avalanche of minor issues… all add up to overshadow the charm Contrast clearly possesses.
Playing with perspective is a regular trick in the indie game handbook, but Contrast does it ingeniously. Throughout the 3D over-world, you’ll find brightly-lit surfaces which Dawn can shift into. Her physical form disappears and you take control of her shadow, moving across the walls as a 2D platformer.
The key to solving puzzles is to shift back and forth. Manipulating objects and light sources in the 3D world alters the shadows, and the game rushes through clever ways to use that mechanic without ever really slowing down to explore any of them in detail.
Some puzzles have you moving objects closer to or further from a light source, making their shadows bigger or smaller, as required. Others require regularly flipping back and forth, as obstacles appear in each dimension that can only be avoided by shifting to the other. Later you’ll carry objects into the shadow world with you, to move them to areas you can’t take them otherwise. It’s fun and deep enough to sustain a full-length game, but it all breezes by in about three or four hours, and leaves you wanting more.
But rather than just needing to be longer, the pacing issues leak all the way into the game’s core structure. For much of it you’re asked to follow Didi from place to place, shunted from cutscene to cutscene. Don’t get me wrong, the story is well told through them, but the pace is jarring. You run down a corridor – cutscene. Follow Didi around a corner – cutscene. There needs to be more downtime between them, more opportunities to explore and enjoy the unique and beautiful 3D world.
On top of that, there’s the general air of roughness that make the game feel like a late-but-not-quite-ready build. An avalanche of minor issues, like imprecise controls, repetitive animation, clipping and collision errors and other general bugs, all add up to overshadow the charm Contrast clearly possesses.
But there are times when the good does shine through the faults. Some truly great moments have you treating the shadow of an important scene as a 2D platforming level. In one, an argument between Didi’s parents requires you to move from the floor, to the table, over the couple and onto a balcony. As you figure out the best way to traverse this living landscape, you’ll find the conversation they’re having is much more engaging than watching it in a cutscene.
I really wanted to love Contrast. Most of my enjoyment of it came from fantasising about the kinds of puzzles and platforming challenges the mechanics could offer, but unfortunately, the game barely scratches the surface of its own potential.
The team has followed the recipe well, making sure all the ingredients of a classic indie gem are in the mix, but it feels like Contrast was taken out of the oven far too early.https://ushousingmeltdown.org/contrast-review/https://ushousingmeltdown.org/wp-content/uploads/header1.jpghttps://ushousingmeltdown.org/wp-content/uploads/header1-150x150.jpgБез рубрики