Contrast (video game)
Official game logo
|Publisher(s)||Focus Home Interactive|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
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 create 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, who is accompanied by her 'imaginary' friend Dawn. Didi resides in a world where the people are all shadows, besides herself and 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. Upon entering her room, she asks Didi to promise not to sneak out at night again. In an effort to appease her mother, Didi promises to stay home. Child services has already threatened to take Didi once, assuming that Kat's absence during the night, and her separation from her husband, has taken a toll on Didi, causing her to 'act out' and talk to 'imaginary people' (Dawn). Kat is given only two options: to find a more stable job or to return to her husband.
A rebellious Didi sneaks out of the house, with Dawn, to follow Kat and watch her perform. Before finishing her song, Kat is seen leaving 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 due Johnny's association with gangsters. He accumulated a series of unpaid debts and was forced to pass bad checks that eventually landed him in jail. He tells Kat that he wants to come home and begs her to take him back, however Kat refuses, telling him that his lifestyle is not healthy for Didi. He promises that things have changed and asks her to visit him at the hotel Excelsior, saying that he has some big plans that will improve all of their lives. Kat reluctantly agrees, and returns to the stage.
Didi tails her father to a bar where he meets with Vincenzo, the famous illusionist that 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' his brilliant skill. However, Vincenzo refuses, as he does not believe Johnny has the means to pay him. Nervously, Johnny 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 swipes a cinema reel of his performances.
Dawn and Didi deliver the reel to Johnny at a nearby theater. He tells her about his big plan to run a circus, but before Didi can hand over Vincenzo's film reel, Johnny urges her to leave. Hidden behind a row of seats, she discovers that her father's investor is Carmine Bruni, a gangster who was recently acquitted twice for murder. Carmine becomes agitated when Johnny asks for more money to pay Vincenzo and orders his lackey to beat Johnny, until Dawn plays the film reel on the theater 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 actually Didi's real father, and 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. SHE 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 sits in her room and decides that she wants to meet Vincenzo. After sneaking out to the circus grounds with Dawn she sees Johnny and Vincenzo talking about the venue. Vincenzo is irate that three attractions are already in disrepair and calls Johnny out on his incompetence. Johnny reassures Vincenzo that he will fix the attractions, and Vincenzo leaves in a huff. In an effort to help her father, Dawn and Didi repair the attractions to their full glory and then travel to Vincenzo's workshop. When he realizes that Didi knows who her real father is, Vincenzo coldly tells her that he is only a performer, and a performer must dedicate all of his time to his craft. He never meant to be a father and explains that Kat was only his assistant, nothing more. When she became pregnant with Didi, Vincenzo refused any responsibility to Didi, and Kat was forced to leave her job. Heartbroken, Didi cries. Realizing his cruelty towards her, Vincenzo offers to call her mother, in an effort to soothe her, and escorts Didi back to the circus.
Kat is now upset with Didi 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. Unfortunately, the lights on the stage stop working, but Didi has the clever idea of using the light from a nearby lighthouse for the show. This prompts Dawn to make her way through the lighthouse, and during this time the player learns the truth behind Dawn's origins: Dawn had been Vincenzo's first assistant, but during a failed act Dawn disappeared permanently. Vincenzo told authorities that he believed Dawn had indeed disappeared, but only to another dimension. At this point, the player realizes that Didi's mother became Vincenzo's second assistant.
Eventually, the stage is lit, and Vincenzo can proceed with his show. During his performance, he talks about alternate universes and appears to pull objects out of said universes. 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, in order for them to have a better life. Vincenzo politely refuses, saying that Johnny is really the only person they will ever need. Kat agrees to take him back permanently, and Johnny can finally return home. As Vincenzo says goodbye to Didi, he magically phases into Dawn's world. To Didi's amazement, he no longer appears as a shadow, but as a 3D figure, and thanks Dawn for looking after Didi. Here, the player presumes that Didi may have inherited this ability from her biological Father as the game ends.
Contrast received mixed reviews upon its release. On Metacritic, the Xbox version of the game has a score of 65/100, the PC computer version a 62/100, and the PlayStation 4 version a 59/100. 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." 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. 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.
- O'Connor, Alice (May 24, 2013). "Contrast casts shadows on vaudevillian Paris". Shack News. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
- "Contrast for PC Reviews - Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved December 30, 2013.
- "Contrast for PS4 Reviews - Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved December 30, 2013.
- Stapleton, Dan. "Contrast Review". IGN Middle East.
- Petit, Carolyn. "Contrast Review".
- Noble, McKinley. "Contrast Review".
- "Contrast for Xbox 360 Reviews".
- "Contrast for PC Reviews".
- "Contrast for Playstation 4 Reviews".