Contrast is a game that might not lure everyone in based on a first impression but once you forget about your expectations you can really begin to enjoy this game. Contrast is riddled with bugs to the point where you are unsure if you are solving a puzzle or the game has just broken. I was forced to restart levels multiple times due to objects and levels glitching out. With all its bugs and glitches I still enjoyed this game simply because of its amazing art style.
Contrast takes place in a strange 1930s town. You play the role of a little girls ‘imaginary’ friend called Dawn who has the ability to become a shadow. This ability allows her to walk across shadows that are cast on walls and other surfaces. The visual design of the characters and levels are absolutely brilliant, It looks like it could have been a Tim Burton creation. The streets and buildings are warped and out of proportion the same can be said for the design of the characters. This may not be something that everyone enjoys but it was what made me enjoy this game so much.
If you strip away the beautiful artistic design from Contrast you are left with an interesting puzzle game. Dawns ability to become a shadow opens a whole new way to solve puzzles by manipulating light sources to cast shadows in different ways. This is a mechanic that is something that hasn’t really been explored before so it’s a lot of fun to try and figure them out. I found the puzzles started to get easier as the game progressed. This was due to the puzzles focussing on only a few different ideas and once you have figured one out it isn’t too hard to figure out the rest.
The biggest problem I encountered with this game were the bugs and glitches. It appears that the developers didn’t take into account that players would try and solve the puzzles in ways other than they were intended to be solved. I found myself having to restart from the last checkpoint multiple times due to items like boxes getting stuck or just moving things the wrong way and not being able to reverse it. This was quite frustrating as the checkpoints weren’t too common so often you have to redo the entire puzzle if you glitch out at the end. This problem persists through the entire game and a lot of the time you arent sure if you are solving the puzzle correctly or if it is just a glitch.
The game is quite short. It took me around 4-5 hours to complete and that takes into account time to solve puzzles and the time I spent redoing puzzles after they ‘broke’. As much as it sucks to play a game that has bugs they didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the game at all. I fell in love with the visuals and the unusual themes they used. I would love to see a Contrast 2 that fixed all the issues this game had and was perhaps a full length title. If you like the Tim Burton/Nightmare Before Christmas kind of artistic style then you will enjoy this game, without it it’s just a buggy puzzle game with some cool ideas that never really live up to their full potential.