Chris Hayes — part of our PAX Prime 2013 ground team — writes on his impressions of Compulsion Games’ gorgeous game of light, shadow and escapism, Contrast.
When telling a story, much of the experience is all about how you tell it. You would also hold this true to video games, seeing as how the music, ambiance and voice actors hold just as much of an intricate role when designing a game with challenging puzzles combined with a unique and dark tale to go with it.
Contrast is a game set in the 20’s type era about a girl watching at her family crumble apart from her perspective. The thing to take away from this is kids are innocent and as such don’t always understand what it is they truly see. This is the aim of this game in a way as it was explained that they really tried to focus on telling it from the 9 year old’s perspective as to how the relationship of the nonexistent dad and budding burlesque dancer of a mom play out. You guide through the game playing as the girl’s imaginary friend who has the ability to jump between reality and a shadow on the wall in a strange and crazy world. Most who have seen the trailer believe this is a hoot and a holler, but I was left wondering where this journey is going to take me, in the same sense of when you step into rapture after your airplane blew up and taking the bathysphere to Rapture thinking, what the hell have I gotten myself into.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9RrRt1krP8?rel=0] One of the questions that Compulsion’s Sam Abbott could not wait to ask me after a rousing original song from a shadowy burlesque show was, “What did you think of the voice acting?” The reason being is this game is all about the story as it is about the unique game play. Sam made sure before I entered a burlesque house to stop my character and keep walking down the road only for me to see roads that curled down into nowhere and floating umbrellas and tables. I was only left to take this to interpretation, but was happy to do so as I got the sense that this game is all about finding the nuances and spotting the aspects of the story.
I know I am going on and on as if I had played the game, but in reality I stopped right after the first area because I wanted to wait for the game to come out so I could take it all in at once. The final thing that blew me away with this game was seeing how phenomenal it looked on the PS4. It made the environment and the game play look crisp and fluid. If this game is not on your radar, I would recommend placing it on their immediately.