Late 2014, local bar in the middle of who cares USA.
I was sitting at the bar alone, like usual, watching as groups of people all around me were having fun and drinking. Some were catching up with old friends like Half-Life 2 and remembering the good old days; others were becoming well aquainted with the new guy in town, his name was Far Cry 4 and he was busy wowing people left and right with his fantastic adventures. Yet in between seeing someone introducing themselves to Octodad with hysterical laughter and another person meeting Bioshock Infinite for the first time, a young lady caught my eye. She seemed different, almost as if there was a charm to her existence that pierced the heavens with her classy look; it's as if she had just arrived in town, yet I could have sworn I met her before.
I asked someone sitting at the bar next to me who she was. The response was worse than what I had expected, "Oh that's Contrast, lovely girl; I heard she's pretty cheap too but I wouldn't risk the missus finding out so I don't know personally." What a dissapointment, I must've seen her standing on the side of the road one day; and to think, for a $15.00 I could've gotten to know her better, but I was a taken man myself. I place heavy emphasis on the WAS. My night wasn't getting any better, I was lonely, depressed, I needed to feel something again and I figured she would be the one.
I walked up to her and introduced myself, she hardley seemed interested in what I thought of her, yet her artistic nature spoke volumes to me. "What's a classy platformer like you doing in a bar like this?" She turned away from me, almost as if she was preparing for the onslaught of abuse I had planned for her. "Do you like platformers?" her voice was shaking, she felt the judgement of the whole bar raining down on her as we talked. I leaned in close, grabbed her shoulders and whispered, "I love platformers." She turned back around, her face was stone cold but I could see into her eyes, they were filled with happiness and ecstasy; I must've been the nicest person she's met in years because she said, "for you it will be $3.00." Now I may not be a detective, but from the way her eyes rolled towards the ground, I could tell she already regretted dropping the price for me. That didn't stop me from accepting the offer, but I did feel like I should give her more anyways, just so she feels better about herself.
We head back to my place, this couch has seen much action but this was a rare exception. How could someone of this beauty and elegance possibly put up with her lifestyle. Just before I turned off the lights, I touched her back and brought her close, I could hear her breathing intensify. But she didn't bring me in closer, she pushed me away; she answered my confusion with a question of her own, "can I sing for you first?"
"Most clients love it when I sing to them before... we get down to business."
A little confused, I figured it would be best if she was as comfortable as possible before we began, so I gave her permission. (Listen to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cB_RzlqbV98).
As she started singing, I got mesmerized. Her story was strong and to the point, she has been hurt, perhaps that's what lead her down this road; her voice was beautiful, the song was perfectly put together, slow, smooth and reflected what to expect from this game.
Contrast is one of a very small group of games where I feel the artistic vision is met to my satisfaction and doesn't appear to be trying too hard or too little to get across what it wants to portray. You view the situations that happen throughout the story both through the eyes or an innocent child and your own personal observations, giving the game a sort of dual perspective that leave the second part entirely up to your own observations. There is a plot twist as well that leads to a revelation I couldn't even fathom feeling for myself, leaving my reaction up to what the child felt when everything was revealed to her. The bond you have with the child as you play all while being a silent observer of the story made me feel different from other games, almost like another game I played recently and would love to play again (not going to mention it here).
Other than the story, the gameplay and graphics seem to compliment eachother really well. The game takes place in a Noir styled France stuck in a sort of purgatory where people can switch between either being a shadow or manifesting themselves in an actaul human form. I know, that sound weird, but the shadow swapping leads to some really cool ideas when it comes to the puzzle sections. You will occasionally have to think while moving objects in the third dimension in order to create and modify shadows in the second dimension in order to reach new areas. It can be tricky at times yet feels very satisfying when you succeed at some of the trickier puzzles.
Yet, at the end of the day, the time I spent with the lovely lady was short lived. 2.9 hours on record is a bummer considering I actually went out of my way to collect as many of the hidden collectibles as I could find and still beat the game short of 3 hours. The world is very interesting, the gameplay is challenging (despite the controls feeling a little off) and the story is realistic and a little troubling, but in a good way. At the end of the day, I would recommend her to anyone who likes puzzle platformers, just be sure treat her the same was I did, or she's not worth your time.