Say what you will about “Contrast”, but it’s certainly one of the more interesting and inspired games available on the PS4. The fact that it’s also been offered as a free-to-play title is also certainly a nice gesture to Sony fans. As far as the game itself is concerned, you assume control of Dawn, who is the imaginary friend of a young girl named Didi. However, what makes this game so unique is that (as Dawn) you can easily jump between a fully-realized 3D world and a 2D one that’s based around shadows. While this might not sound like an interesting mechanic, rest assured, the extremely artful and somewhat poignant way the story unfolds around it is magical, to say the least.
Throughout your playthrough, you’ll explore a host of realms which all seem to (more or less) take root in the mind of a child’s imagination. Yes, it sounds like a tall order, but the creative flair exhibited in this game is truly fantastic and almost feels like an animated film at times.
Anyone that’s familiar with the film noir genre will recognize what developer Compulsion Games was going with for “Contrast”. You’re basically plunged into an early 20th century France, where everything simply feels very cabaret or vaudevillian. Aside from its atmosphere, you’ll also notice that Didi and Dawn are the only characters you’ll actually see throughout the game. All other figures are conveyed as projected shadows, which Dawn can interact with in the 2D world. Needless to say, this sets up an interesting opportunity for some very mind-bending visuals / graphics which are at once unique as well as appealing.
Where “Contrast” really shines though is in its gameplay, which features the aforementioned jumps between the 3D and 2D worlds. For instance, you might be witnessing a conversation between a man and woman, their shadows dancing off of a wall; Dawn can actually interact on both planes, allowing you (and her) to solve cool little puzzles. It’s important to keep in mind that this is in fact a bona-fide “platformer” and one where you must traverse various obstacles in order to progress forward in the game. The tricky part is in figuring out how and when to move back and forth between these two worlds, of course. Moreover, there’s even something of a subplot involving a story conveyed by Didi’s father, where a princess must repeatedly save her bungling hero which adds yet another layer of depth to the game.
Given the fact that “Contrast” is available to PSN members as a free-to-play game and it is in fact “an absolute blast”, there’s really no reason to not check it out. Those who enjoy a good, stylish platformer will also appreciate the attention to detail and fresh concept as well. It’s highly recommended that all PS4 owners give this one a shot.