You play as Dawn, Didi’s imaginary friend and master of the shadows. Didi is unfortunately going through a tough time at the moment; her father recently having left her and her mother. However she still misses him and wants him to come back. Whilst her mother is routinely working at the local club where she sings, Didi with the aid of Dawn manages to arrive in time to listen to her performance. Afterwards overhearing a few interesting revelations regarding her family, she endeavours to get to the bottom of these discoveries.
Taking place in a beautifully crafted early 1900’s noir French setting, the world of Contrast looks the part and sounds it too. An absolutely brilliant jazz soundtrack drives this game and really is the force that can connect a lot of players to the game. During the course of the game the only people whom you encounter in the flesh are Didi and Dawn, while the remaining cast is portrayed by shadows that can fully interact with Didi during conversations. For instance, one of the parents giving her a cuddle still connects their shadow to the young girl.
It may seem like an odd idea to portray other characters like this, particularly when you enter a room full of chitter chatter and cannot see anyone, but it is all adequately explained in the stories resolution. The environments just give the right feel to the noir setting; a café table complete with umbrella and chairs right next to an old theatre might not sound like much, but the way Compulsion Games have infused them together does a remarkable job of setting the atmosphere. I also cannot stress enough just how good the jazz soundtrack is, particularly the first time you boot the game up.
You see the world through the eyes of Dawn. Dawn is quite a unique individual, as she can shift in and out of shadows. Whilst out of the world of shadows, you navigate from a third person perspective in an open world, and as you enter the shadows, it instantly shifts to a two-dimensional platformer. The shadows are always puzzles of different variations that will keep you progressing through the story. One time you are untying an anchored air balloon or even a shadow fueled puppet show, the latter being extremely fun and humorous. Outside of the shadows there are sections to explore for “luminaries” and collectables.
The luminaries are the power source to active light sources to create shadows to solve puzzles, which can be projectors and spotlights. Some of these light sources are interact-able in terms of movement; finding the correct position to solve the puzzles is vital to your progression and at times requires some precise timing with the mechanisms that you create a shadow from. Unfortunately, I felt that the controller responses were not accurate enough at times when solving puzzles, this mainly occurred when I had to jump up to enter a shadow. Collectively however, the puzzles are by no means difficult, only offering a solid challenge but overall approachable to anyone willing to give this extremely interesting take on puzzles a go.