Contrast (video game)

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Contrast game logo.jpg
Official game logo
Developer(s) Compulsion Games
Publisher(s) Focus Home Interactive
Engine Unreal Engine 3
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Xbox 360
Xbox One
Release date(s)
  • NA November 15, 2013
  • EU November 29, 2013
Genre(s) Puzzle, Platform

Contrast is a puzzle-based platform style video game developed by Compulsion Games for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.[1]


The game is set in a noir atmosphere. The player must solve puzzles that require movement between the physical world, which is represented as 3D, and shadows, which are represented as 2D. The player may sometimes manipulate different light sources in the 3D world (spotlights, film projectors, etc.) to creates the shadow paths that reach into new areas; "collectibles", available through game-play, offer insight into the game's characters and the world in which they live. The goal of the game is exploration and discovery through problem solving.

Dawn and Didi are the only two characters who appear as full 3D figures. The player controls Dawn, an imaginary friend, who is able to manifest as a three-dimensional shadow. Dawn is able to jump between two shadows, no matter how far apart they are. All other characters appear as shadows against the visual walls, but they still interact with the world as though they are "real."


The game begins in the bedroom of Didi Malenkaya, a young girl with an imaginary friend named Dawn. They are the only individuals who appear in 3D form, although Dawn has the ability to change from shadow to 3D in an instant.

Didi's mother, Kat Malenkaya, works as a singer at the 'Ghost Note' cabaret, hoping to catch her big break. She begs Didi to promise not to sneak out at night again. Child services has already threatened to take Didi once. Kat's absence during the nights appears to have taken a toll on Didi, causing her to act out and talk to 'imaginary people' (Dawn). Kat is given two options: to find a more stable job or to return to her husband. Didi promises to stay home.

Didi and Dawn sneak out of the house to follow Kat and watch her perform. Before finishing her song, Kat leaves the stage with Didi's father, Johnny Fenris. While eavesdropping on their conversation, Didi finds out that her father had been kicked out of their home by her mother. Johnny's has associated with gangsters and has spent time in prison for passing bad checks. Johnny tells Kat that he wants to come home and begs her to take him back. Kat refuses, telling him that his lifestyle is not healthy for Didi. He promises that things have changed and asks Kat to visit him at the hotel Excelsior, saying that he has some big plans that will improve all of their lives. Kat reluctantly agrees.

Didi tails her father to a bar, where he meets with Vincenzo, a famous illusionist, who is to be the main attraction in a circus that Johnny is organizing. Johnny asks for a film reel of Vincenzo's act to show to his 'investors'. However, Vincenzo refuses, as he does not believe Johnny has the means to pay him. Johnny nervously agrees to pay him more and promises that the circus will be a hit, but it is obvious that he has no idea how to accomplish that without Vincenzo's film reel. Dawn, at the urging of Didi, sneaks into the office of Vincenzo's agent and steals a cinema reel of his performances.

Dawn and Didi deliver the reel to Johnny, who tells her about his plan to run a circus. He tells her that the circus will help their family. Before Didi can hand over Vincenzo's film reel, Johnny urges her to leave. She discovers that one of her father's investors is Carmine Bruni, a gangster who was acquitted twice for murder. Carmine becomes agitated when Johnny asks for more money to pay Vincenzo. Carmine's lackey beats Johnny until Dawn plays the film reel on the theater's projector. Carmine likes the act and decides to give Johnny the extra money. Afterwards, Didi follows her father to the Excelsior hotel, where he and Kat argue. During the argument, it is revealed that Vincenzo is Didi's real father. As the fight escalates, Kat pulls out a gun, points it at Johnny, and then turns it on herself. Didi interferes, and Kat tosses the gun away. Didi tells her mother that her father needs their help and insists that she take him back. Kat reluctantly makes up with Johnny and allows him to come back home.

On the opening night of Johnny's circus, Didi is sitting in her room. Didi decides that she wants to meet Vincenzo. She sneaks out to the circus with Dawn. She sees Johnny and Vincenzo talking about the venue. Vincenzo is irate that three attractions are already in disrepair; Johnny reassures Vincenzo that he will fix the attractions. In an effort to help Didi's father, Dawn and Didi repair the attractions to their full glory and then travel to Vincenzo's workshop. Vincenzo tells her that he is only a performer, and a performer must dedicate all of his time to his craft. He explains that Kat used to be Vincenzo's assistant. When Kat became pregnant with Didi, Vincenzo refused to assume responsibility and Kat was forced to leave her job.

Didi returns to Kat, who is upset with her for seeing Vincenzo and for finding out the truth. However, knowing that Didi really did nothing wrong, she tells her that they will talk more about it after Vincenzo's act. The lights on the stage stop working, and Didi has the clever idea of using the light from a nearby lighthouse for the show. As Dawn makes her way through the lighthouse, the player learns the truth behind Dawn's origins: Dawn had been Vincenzo's assistant, but during a disappearing act, Dawn disappeared permanently. Vincenzo told authorities that he believed Dawn had indeed disappeared, but only to another sort of dimension.

Eventually, the stage is lit, and Vincenzo can proceed with his show. During Vincenzo's performance, he talks about alternate universes and appears to pull objects out of those other dimensions. After the show ends, Didi, Kat, Johnny, and Vincenzo are backstage. Johnny tells them that he is not a good father and asks Vincenzo to take Didi and Kat with him. Vincenzo, however, says that Johnny is really the only person they will ever need. Kat agrees to take him back, and Johnny returns to his family permanently. As Vincenzo says goodbye to Didi, he magically phases into Dawn's world. He no longer appears as a shadow, but as a 3D figure, and thanks Dawn for looking after Didi.


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 63%
Metacritic 62/100 (PC)[2]
59/100 (PS4)[3]
Review scores
Publication Score
GameSpot 5/10[5]
IGN 7.5/10[4]

Contrast received mixed reviews upon its release. On Metacritic, the Xbox version of the game has a score of 65/100,[7] the PC computer version a 62/100,[8] and the PlayStation 4 version a 59/100.[9] On GameRankings, the game has a rating of 63%. Dan Stapleton of IGN gave the game a 7.5, praising the gameplay and the puzzles. He said, "Contrast is a game full of heart, beauty, and at least a few excellent puzzles."[4] Carolyn Petit of GameSpot gave the game a score of 5.0, complimenting the atmosphere of the game but criticizing the gameplay and the puzzles.[5] VentureBeat's McKinley Noble gave Contrast a 55 out of 100 score, stating that while he liked the overall concept, it suffered from overly "glitchy" gameplay and "lifeless" environments.[6]


  1. ^ O'Connor, Alice (May 24, 2013). "Contrast casts shadows on vaudevillian Paris". Shack News. Retrieved May 24, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Contrast for PC Reviews - Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Contrast for PS4 Reviews - Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Stapleton, Dan. "Contrast Review". IGN Middle East. 
  5. ^ a b Petit, Carolyn. "Contrast Review". 
  6. ^ a b Noble, McKinley. "Contrast Review". 
  7. ^ "Contrast for Xbox 360 Reviews". 
  8. ^ "Contrast for PC Reviews". 
  9. ^ "Contrast for Playstation 4 Reviews". 

External links[edit]