April 2, 2013


Mike Here.

On the third day of PAX East 2013 I headed into the indie section on the expo floor. I happened to stumble upon Contrast, a Steam Greenlight game featuring wonderful "multi-dimensional" puzzle game based on manipulating lights and shadows to solve puzzles and explore a stylized world with not only an impressive art style, but with a soundtrack to back it up.

Stick to the shadows.

At the start of the demo, you are instantly thrown into the puzzle solving. Most of the game is played in the third person. However, as you explore the city, you will discover that your character has a unique ability. The character can jump into any illuminated surface and become a simple shadow. At that point, the game transforms into a 2D sidescroller set in the same 3D world as before. You run along the shadows created by the 3D object in the world. You use this ability, which you toggle on and off, to reach locations that were once impossible.

Just enjoy the wonderful art.
The game takes place in the burlesque-style 1920's. The atmosphere is enhanced with a very unique art style and music from an era past.

Jessica Rabbit would fit right in.

You play as Dawn, and that is all the we know so far about her. The demo begins with your friend, a little girl named Didi, saying she wants to meet you at the Ghost Note. However, your character is too big to fit through the path that the girl plans to take. With a little manipulation of your environment, Dawn is able to position a kart to create a shadow ramp along the and over the wall. Falling into the shadows, Dawn is able to walk up the newly created shadow ramp and meet Didi on the other side.

An awesome scene from the demo
At the nightclub, you are tasked with lighting the stage for the band. As you aim the three lights, you  begin to illuminate the shadow band members along the stage. In order to reach the last light, you  must once again fall into the shadows. This time, you are tasked with using your recently created shadows as platforms to reach the upper level. As you jump from member to member, you realize your shadow still has weight to it. Shadows react to your presence as if you were standing upon them as a miniature person. How exactly this feature will be used later on will be interesting. The last light is used to create the shadow piano player and singer which activates a short, but amazing jazz performance. In the middle of the song, the singer sees a shadow man to the side of the stage and she leaves after him. As you follow them into the hallway, Didi explains that the shadow man is her father. After listening to their conversation, you follow the dad outside to a carousel.

Outside, Didi notices a hot air balloon tied to a nearby roof. She says that you need to untie the balloon in order to progress. Using the light from the carousel, moving shadows of horses, stars, and moons help guide you along the walls of the buildings. Platforming begins to get a little difficult as you must not only time your jumps perfectly, but also jump in and out of the shadows in order to progress pass gaps in the buildings and non-illuminated areas.

The demo ends as you untie the balloon, but from that point, you can start to see what else the game has to offer. An old wooden pirate ship, a massive circus tent, and a few other landmarks could be seen in the distance all waiting for you to explore.

It doesn't look it now but there is some awesome platforming to be done.
Contrast looked good from a far. After playing and being completely engulfed in the burlesque visuals, jazz music, and a combination of unique 2D-3D puzzles, it was hard to walk away. Keep an eye on this one folks, it will be launching on Steam later this month.

(p.s. I loved the shirts that the booth attendants were wearing.)