Contrast — Game Review

“It’s as if Limbo and Bioshock Infinite had a baby while watching Pan’s Labyrinth

‘Ghost’ & Didi

Story

A little girl misses her ‘father’. She is raised alone by her working mother and she finds it difficult to control her daughter. She always travels outside during the night whenever she is not home, which appears to be most of the time. Sneaking out every night, she enlists the help of a ‘ghost’, who assists the daughter in her journey to help her father out in his endeavour.

The ‘father’ is struggling to come back to the family. He wants to make up to the family and be able to provide for them. He ended up befriending some shadowy contacts in an effort to fund his investments. He must be able to pay them back and provide a magnificent experience for all.

This ‘magnificent experience’ is in the terms of a magician. He provides fantastical entertainment and is renowned for his time. The ‘father’ has to make sure he meets his prerequisites and everything goes according to plan.

Gameplay Footage

Character

There are four central characters. Each of them had a good backstory and were well developed:

  • Didi Knight (Teale Bishopric) — The daughter of the family. She is always playful and joyful and really wants to help her ‘father’ out. She does what she can to ensure the success of his endeavour.
  • Kat Knight (Vanessa Matsui) — The mother of the family. She wants to look after her daughter, but she struggles to maintain a balance between family and work. She also risks losing her daughter if she does not pay more attention to her.
  • Johnny Fenris (Elias Toufexis) — The ‘father’ of the family. He really cares for ‘his daughter’. He really wants to get back to the family, but wants to make sure he can first provide for them. He tries really hard to do so.
  • The Amazing Vincenzo (Bruce Dinsmore) — The master of entertainment. The genius of the early 20th century. This is the famed magician whom the entire town wants to witness. His performances are mystical and fantastical. His reputation precedes him.
‘Ghost’ and Didi — Saved by Suzanne Pritchard

There was also the ‘ghost’ which you play as. Not much is known about her, except there are hints to her possible identity and the nature of her existence through collectable documents towards the end of the game.

Worldbuilding

This society is based on a 1920s town. The old-fashioned architecture is reminiscent for its time. The style of the streets, structures of the building, types of music, clothing fashion and document styles all reflect its era. The family struggles are all very familiar to modern times — Some things never change, despite the time period. As far as the game goes: Nobody, with the sole exception of the daughter, can see the ghost. Conversely, the ghost can only see the daughter and is unable to see everybody else, except in the forms of shadows against well-lit backgrounds. Everything flows nicely and the drama feels real.

Didi & ‘Ghost’

Gameplay

There were no overly complex mechanisms behind the gameplay. It was relatively simple. The player plays as the ‘ghost’ and solves puzzles throughout the journey with Didi. They start off simple and become more puzzling during the progression of the game. There are two ways to solve an obstacle:

  • Physically — Such as moving around boxes, holding pressure pads and jumping from one location to another.
  • Spiritually — The ghost can become a shadow against well-lit backgrounds. The shadows then become physical markers, allowing the player to reach otherwise-impassable locations.
Didi Guiding the Ghost

Other times, there were combinations of the two.

Summary

In brief:

  • This game itself is set in the 1920s.
  • The architecture and customs reflects its time.
  • There is a family drama.
  • Goal of the game is to assist the ‘father’.
  • There are four central characters.
  • The player plays as the ‘ghost’ throughout.
  • Gameplay was simple and fun.
  • Family members can also have an enjoyable time!
Didi Solving a Puzzle

Critique

There was never a feeling of boredom or repetition, but rather excitement. I enjoyed every moment of the game. The environment enticed me to the world of Contrast. The story hooked me into the journey of Didi. The family drama did not feel forced and it blended nicely with the story. The Adam Jensen voice actor made me play the game through to the end, too. My only issue was that the game was short and I wish it was slightly longer, so I can experience the masterpiece of what was Contrast for a longer period. The gameplay was quite unique and I would like to extend my congratulations to the production team behind it. This game was in my PS4 since it first launched in 2013, but I simply never got around to actually playing it. It took me 8 years, but I finally played the game and I do not regret my playthrough! This is a type of game which can easily be played and enjoyed by other members of your family.

Contrast: Launch Trailer

Afterwords

I will definitely recommend this game to other people. It was without a doubt a unique experience. The little girl also did indeed remind me of the Bioshock franchise with elements of Limbo. It’s a great break from the previous genres of serious dramatic and more realistic games I have played:

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Writer. Reader of Novels. Video Gamer. Documentary Watcher. Tech nerd.

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