Contrast is explanation that a good thought isn’t always enough.
At initial blush, it competence seem like Compulsion Games’ entrance would fit naturally into a tradition of indie puzzle-platformers like Braid, Thomas Was Alone, and Fez, titles focused on a singular quirky gameplay judgment in an bid to move something to a genre that was during once both informed and new. To be reductionist: gimmick games.
Contrast, for a part, has one ruin of a gimmick. You play as Dawn, a mysterious, presumably hypothetical immature lady with a ability to transition between a fleshly universe and shadows. From a gameplay standpoint, that means Contrast is simultaneously both a 3D and a 2D platformer, with 2D environments boldly combined by a lighting effects in a 3D world. By switching between both planes—a elementary symbol press when station subsequent to a wall—Dawn can navigate differently insurmountable obstacles by regulating silhouettes as platforms, flitting by glass, and generally upending expectations of movement. It’s a fantastic, truly talented judgment with a lot of intensity for engaging gameplay scenarios.
Trouble is, Contrast has a tough time delivering on that promise. If we demeanour during those other gimmick games we mentioned, if we unequivocally investigate them, it fast becomes apparent that their gimmicks are a slightest considerable thing about them. Their genuine delight is a approach they can build around that judgment in a healthy and engaging way, contracting a beliefs of crafty turn pattern and crafty puzzle-building to enhance that judgment and provoke out a possibilities over a march of a game. Here, Contrast stumbles.
While Contrast includes a handful of engaging puzzles, it offers precious few eureka moments, those times when we glance during an clearly illegible nonplus for minutes, usually to learn a brilliantly elementary resolution that was right in front of we all along. Instead, a resolution is possibly painfully obvious, woefully obfuscated, or—in a misfortune of cases—both. In one puzzle, we insincere a object we indispensable would be out of steer on a height above me, yet after perplexing and unwell to make a burst a dozen times in a row, onlookers assured me that a answer contingency have been elsewhere. After poring over each in. of a room, we finally went behind to that same jump, done it, and found a object we needed. While it was by distant a worst, it wasn’t a usually instance my swell slowed to a crawl, wrecking a pacing and holding all a fun out of a experience.
The technical doing of a judgment also leaves something to be desired. While it’s excellent that a gimmick works as dictated a infancy of a time, things go wrong mostly adequate that’s it’s formidable to ignore. The occasional glitch is all good and good, yet when we find myself stranded in geometry—both 3D objects and shadows—more than a dozen times over a march of a three-hour game, that’s usually inexcusable. To Contrast‘s credit, we was always means to shun these situations by mashing a air-dash symbol or phasing in and out of a wall, yet we never should’ve been in that unfolding to start with.
It’s a shame, since a non-gameplay portions of Contrast find most larger success. The visible atmosphere and environment is fantastic, a arrange of illusory Jazz Age Paris that calls to mind a farfetched backdrops of The Triplets of Belleville. The soundtrack is phenomenal, aided by moist performances from chanteuse Laura Ellis. The story competence be a bit muddled, yet it’s nice, simple, and a heart is in a right place. In a end, though, nothing of those things are adequate to buoy a subpar gameplay.
So, yes, Contrast has a good thought during a core—and a handful of subordinate successes to support it—but a good thought is usually ever a jumping-off point, not a destination. Compulsion should have spent some-more time playtesting, revising, and reconsidering what they built to entirely move out a underlying potential. As it stands, Contrast feels some-more antecedent than finished game, a gloomy shade of what it competence have been.