What’s not to love, initially, about this game? We have an imaginary, film noir, 1920s, vaudevillian-style world, with a female protagonist and a mighty jazz soundtrack. I was also pleasantly surprised to note that the Compulsion folks at the booth were all men. This might sound strange, but at that point I’d seen tons of games, and all of the games with a focus on female characters (characters, not walking boobs) were developed by women. I asked, and was told that the concept artist is a woman, Whitney Clayton, but that overall it hadn’t been their intention to focus on female characters. They just wanted to tell a great story.
Speaking of the story, the protagonist is Didi, a little girl trying to reunite her parents with the help of Dawn, her imaginary friend. Didi is clearly an adventurous and imaginative little girl who lives with her mother, Kat. Her father, Johnny, left Didi and Kat some time ago, but Didi misses her father and compensates for his absence through Dawn.
The story revolves around Didi’s attempt to bring her family back together, something any child of divorced parents can relate to. I’m very curious to see if they tackle this in a deep way near the end of the story, or if it will just have a satisfying, happy ending.
You play as Dawn, the acrobatic imaginary friend, whose power is the ability to phase into a lit wall and become a shadow. When Dawn is a shadow, the player enters a 2D world and uses the shadows to move around and solve puzzles. Thus, the gameplay is a mix of 2D and 3D, as well as a mix of puzzle and platforming.
For example, in my first mission, I had to find a way to light up the stage in the 3D world. Once lit, I had to phase into the 2D world and use the shadow band to get to a higher level of the building, where I phased back into the 3D world.
I only explored two areas, so I can’t say for certain that the game will be challenging enough for platform game lovers. I’ll have more information in that regard in my full review.
The graphics are simple and heavily stylized. I love Dawn’s character design, as I think it has a great balance between sexy and whimsical. Didi’s mother, Kat, has distractingly large breasts, but she’s also a shadow on the wall, and meant to be a sultry singer…and it’s quite possible that her image is over-exaggerated by Didi’s imagination.
To explain a little, the cutscenes involving adults are carried out via shadows on the wall. It’s a lovely touch, but one that suggests that the situations and conversations are being heard through a child’s ears, and may actually just be her imagination, or a misunderstanding.
The city itself is also gorgeous, with lots of shadows and a heavy 1920s and film noir vibe. It feels like a real city, with more to be explored just past that alley or around that corner.
Sweet swingin’ Susan, this soundtrack is funky. The sultry electro jazz sounds lend the perfect atmosphere to the game, and I never wanted the cutscene with Kat singing to end. In fact, the music is so good that I went and snagged the song from the trailer.
My preview of Contrast left me intrigued, and I can’t wait to play more!
Contrast is currently slated (but not confirmed) to come out this November on Steam (available for preorder now!), PSN (for PS3 and PS4) and XBLA.