Posted on August 5, 2016
[c] The Show Must Go On!
Who doesn’t appreciate some nice cabaret every now and then?
Not so much the nonsense or stand-up comedy variety, but more of the burlesque or cancan variété. There’s something otherworldly about those noirish personas, drawing you into their game of lust and intrigue with dance and performance. Often with dark and gloomy attire, but of such a vibrant and exuberant character. Such melancholy, yet so much joie de vivre.
Compulsion Games’ first game Contrast shares this same vibe, but not always in a good way…
Look at how our silent protagonist Dawn is shown in her promotional art. Look at how sassy she is.
This is in stark contrast to the stiffly animated in-game Dawn, with a face devoid of life, if not for the eyes. She almost seems like two different persons.
The same goes for the jazzy soundtrack. The game starts with one of the smoothest tunes you can imagine…
…and I know the rest of the score to be pretty fine as well, but since you will spend most of your time in the same rooms, failing puzzle after platforming section, the music gets bland pretty fast, if it plays at all and if you can hear anything over your own screams of helplessness.
And this is where Contrast falls terribly short. For a game that almost fully relies on an interesting novelty, namely phasing from the third dimension to a two-dimensional shadow plane in order to solve puzzles and go through platforming sections, they really should have focused more on a smooth execution. It took me less than 4 hours to wrap it all up, of which I spent at least one hour at trial-and-error.
Finding the solution to a puzzle made me happy.
Applying the solution made me return to more basic instincts, such as trying to punch a hole through the wall with my face.
What started as a suave aesthetic, with shadowplay woven through story and gameplay, ended up as a shady gimmick that becomes a chore all too often.
This being said, you can still feel the creators put their heart into the game.
The voice acting is, hands down, top notch.The script is also rather good, with a welcome twist at the end.
And you may look like you’re running around like a constipated stick figure, the world you’re running around in has this eery, lifeless charm, with its boundaries breaking down, defying all laws of physics and gravity.
And most importantly of all (or most sadly, depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty), you will reach the end of your short journey way before succumbing to shoddy programming.
I’m so sorry Dawn, my two-faced mute puppet, but for my regular cabaret fix I fear I must resort to the likes of Liberty City, or the City of Lights…
…but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my time with you, brief and stormy as it may have been, and I hope we can meet again in better circumstances.
On se reverra à l’aube…
If you get it at a discount, Contrast is still worth your short time and yields about
Contrast was released in November, 2013 and is playable on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox360 and Xbox One
Cabaret, by Bob Fosse Contrast, by Compulsion Games cosplay of Dawn, by kiryufox promo art of Dawn, by Whitney Clayton GTA4, by Rockstar Games The Saboteur, by the now defunct Pandemic Studios We Happy Few, by Compulsion