Compulsion Games first title only recently arrived on Xbox Game Pass and so I was curious to load it up and see what it was about and I’ve walked away really impressed with the experience.
Contrast is a platform adventure with puzzle elements that casts you as Dawn, the “invisible friend” to little girl Didi. As she leads you out of her bedroom window you quickly see the world itself is not entirely in touch with reality with the test of the world’s characters confined to shadow puppets on walls. And it’s the shadows that play into Dawn’s key ability as she can cast herself as a shadow which then lets her navigate through areas where light and shadow also play a part. For example, a nearby and all might have a shadow platform that crosses a pit so Dawn becomes a shadow, walks across the platform then reappears on the other side. All of this is in service to Didi as you complete these puzzles to further her story and learn the truth of her circumstances.
In terms of gameplay the puzzles are mostly straightforward and the game gives you plenty of opportunity to learn how to leverage abilities in both your physical and shadows forms. A couple of puzzles later in the game can be a tricky but once you learn the tricks behind them they don’t slow you down much more. Accessing some areas require combining abilities in both your physical and shadow forms and though the challenges aren’t too complicated it’s fun being able to complete them. Visually the game is imaginative with its combination of semi-realistic 1900’s style locales broken, twisted and floating in an endless void. There’s only two three dimensional characters in the game, Didi and Dawn, but both are distinctive and easy to identify. I think I could see the visual design from We Happy Few being an evolution of what was accomplished here.
The game itself can take three to four hours in total, including completing all the achievements which makes it an ideal game to play over the course of an afternoon or evening. It was how I ended up playing it, not intentionally, and I really enjoyed that time. Not all of the story beats are as clear as I hoped – understanding the world itself is not as clear as I hoped – Didi’s own intentions for learning more do help push you into wanting to play on. It’s another game I appreciate for not dragging out the concept for too long and allowing a player to get the most out of it in a short space of time. I liked it for what it is… not much more to say about it!
Contrast is out now for PC, Xbox and PlayStation. Played on an Xbox Series X via Game Pass.