Review: Contrast

Review: Contrast

Watch the shadows.

I’ve been enjoying my PlayStation 4 for a good two weeks or so now, and (while I didn’t expect to be amazed right away by the launch lineup) I’ve had a lot of fun. Of course, if you’ve seen some of my other PlayStation 4 games reviews (ResogunKnack), you’ll know that I am always disappointed with the shortness of the games. Is Contrast any different? Let’s find out…

The PS4 is off to a steamy start.

First, let’s mention that this game was part of the Sony PlayStation Plus free game incentive for the launch of the system, as was Resogun. Now that this is out of the way, let’s talk about Contrast. It’s definitely not your average puzzle-adventure game. You are in a world that is different yet similar to ours in a 1920’s atmosphere, featuring cabaret, hotels, and movie theaters that get a darker feel to them in the middle of the night. The art style complements the atmosphere. The music and sounds are reminiscent of the 20’s, so you’ll be in for a treat unless you hate that period. You do not need to worry about text, and the voices are well acted. In this game, you play as a woman of many talents who is part of a little girl’s life. The thing is, it seems she’s the only one who can see you. Strangely enough, you can see her, but everyone else the girl interacts with is just shadows. Even though you hear them, they definitely do not hear you. Most would conclude you are an imaginary friend – albeit one with a lot of control on what happens around her.

Your goal in all this? Help this girl bring both of her parents back together. It’s not an easy task considering that her father is a good-for-nothing lout who gets in more trouble than he’s worth, and the fact that you have to act at night in the shadows and do everything for the girl. It involves a lot of platforming in 2D and 3D environments. In the 2D part, you merge with the walls and become a shadow in the lighted areas. The game itself gives you very precise directions, so you will not come to a point where you don’t know what to do unless you are very bad with puzzles. They are not difficult by any means, but some people have a harder time when it involves platforming.

Contrast features shadowy gameplay.

Controlling is easy since there are only a few things you can do. You can run or walk, you can jump, you can dash (even through shadows when you are in the 2D environment), and you can move things or go through certain wooded fences. Most of these are well indicated and are usually part of the story, save a few exceptions. You also will find a lot of collectibles that are easily seen most of the time but not necessarily easy to get. Some involve jumping on shadows that replay a part of the story you previously saw. Some just require timing, and others just a bit of patience. Being on the PlayStation 4, you will have trophies to gather, but nothing hard. If you don’t read up on them beforehand, it might require you to replay a chapter or two, though, since not all of them are attainable by following the main story of that chapter.

It’s definitely an interesting game with a twist in the story, but it’s nothing new gameplay-wise and will most likely not amaze you for any of its graphics. It also lacks in terms of replayability; once you’ve beaten the story, you will only want to do the trophies or collect all the collectibles. This is rather fast to do and (save one of the trickier ones) you will not spend a lot of time redoing the chapters. Lastly, the story itself is rather short, even though it was good and had some surprising elements to it.

Since it’s free with PlayStation Plus, there are really no complaints and I’m rather glad I played it. If you didn’t get it free, the price tag is small enough that it won’t burn your wallet, so it’s worth checking out.

This review is based on a digital copy of  Contrast downloaded for the PlayStation 4. The game is also available on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 6.0

Average in almost every way, but definitely not bad.

Presentation: 8.0

An interesting tale mixed with artsy 1920’s-style presentation.

Value: 6.5

A short adventure, but if you have PS Plus it’s free.

Overall Score

*Overall score is not an average.

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