Aug 262014
 

Status: Completed

Most Intriguing Idea: Transitions between 3D and 2D platforming.

Best Design Decision: Adopting noir trappings that go with its mechanics.

Worst Design Decision: Inconsistent behavior of shadow edges.

Summary:

Contrast feels like half of a game. That impression comes from the story, which is short, simpler than its noir aesthetic trappings suggest it should be, and ends abruptly. It also comes from the gameplay, which never reaches a point of maturity. In any platformer I expect to have a moment where I have to put together everything I learned earlier in order to succeed; not coincidentally such challenges tend to demonstrate the developers’ understanding of their own systems. That moment never really comes in Contrast, which instead introduces new tricks almost up to the last minute and seems to forget about half of them.

The game’s story has a weird structure. The most emotionally intense moment comes at the end of the first act, and the rest of the game is overwhelmed by the twee adventures of the little girl and her hapless dad. I suppose I wouldn’t mind this so much if the girl were an actual agent but her role is to show up in a room, act briefly, and then stand there uselessly while Dawn does all the work, even for puzzles that would obviously be most efficiently solved by two people. I didn’t mind so much that the game wasn’t entirely clear about what happened to Dawn, but if Vincenzo was going to be a part of that they should have really done something with it rather than tossing a line in at the end. I came away from the whole thing unsatisfied and underwhelmed.

Verdict: Not recommended.

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