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Video Game Rewind- Contrast (2013) Living in the shadows

Sometimes life gets in the way of playing a certain game and it ends up slipping through the cracks. We mean to pick it up at some stage but as newer and newer games come out, it just keeps slipping further and further away. This is why we’ve decided to create a new segment dedicated to the games we may have missed when they first released or have only just recently dusted off from our ever-growing backlog.

We will look at a wide variety of games; from big studio releases to small indie games, that we believe are worth a second look, served straight to you, the reader! So without further ado, in the spirit of Throwback Thursdays, welcome to our Video Game Rewind!

First up on the menu is: Contrast (Released November 2013 on PS3, PS4, PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360)

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This striking, little puzzle-based platform video game from Canadian developers Compulsion Games is as mysterious as it is charming. Set in a 1920s film noir dreamscape, a type of vaudeville Paris, the game’s aesthetic is both alluring and frightening. Each level is defined by darkness, environments are painted with muted colors and light is sparse. But beyond the lights lies a whole different world, a 2D realm where shadows flicker and tell their own stories.

Seamlessly moving between the 3D physical world and the 2D shadow world to solve puzzles is the game’s novelty and it’s an ingenious twist to your standard platforming formula. Using your character’s silhouette to jump over different obstacles and reach new areas plays an important part of the puzzle solving. Furthermore, you can manipulate light to create your own passageways to move through. It’s a clever concept that is both challenging and fun, and carries the game’s film noir aesthetic perfectly. Plus there’s a wonderfully moody jazz soundtrack to boot.

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Contrast also caught me off guard with its emotional narrative. The story follows Didi, a young girl whose family is being pulled apart as a result of her father’s bad business dealings with local racketeers. Framed through the perspective of Didi’s imaginary friend, who you control, your aim is to help the father pull off a circus show that will put all the family’s problems behind them. The story occasionally takes turns into darker territories, particular with the father’s dealings with the mobsters, but at its core it remains a sweet natured narrative of a father looking to do what is right for his family.

Also, at release, some reviews criticised the game for being full of bugs and glitches but I’m happy to report that I didn’t experience any major game-breaking bugs and that the game by and large ran rather smoothly. This is likely a result of the post-releases patches smoothing out the game’s rough spots, which is good news for anyone thinking of picking up the game now.

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Conclusion: With a beautiful art style, innovative gameplay and an intriguing story; Contrast is an impressive debut game from Compulsion Games. You can see a lot of heart went into it and it shows in the final product. It’s therefore exciting to see that the studio is looking to build on their success and go bigger and bolder in their next game, We Happy Few. Here’s hoping that it shines as brightly as Contrast does.