PAX Prime: Contrast Hands-On Preview

Puzzles lurk within the shadows.

Dan Oravasaariby Dan Oravasaari

Compulsion Games' upcoming noir styled puzzle game, Contrast, was on hand at PAX Prime 2013 and we got to find out just what was really lurking in the shadows of this mysterious title.

Set in the 1920's, the story behind Contrast revolves around an 8 year old girl named Didi and her imaginary friend Dawn. Dawn must use the contrast between light and dark from shadows cast in the environment to access areas that would otherwise be blocked off. Simply by walking up to a wall, Dawn can jump into the world of shadows and run along the dark areas in a 2D world that scrolls across across it. Starting the demo, the concept worked incredibly well and became an interesting mind twister that soon became second nature. Before long, the puzzles become much more complex.

One my favorite examples that I saw was the use of a standard bicycle leaning against a wall with light penetrating around its frame. When looking at the area across from it, light could be seen showing off another universe made up of moving and rotating platforms generated by the shadows cast by the wheels and pedals.

Lighting in the world is dynamic, and since the game's integral mechanic is based around its shadows, the possibilities are almost endless for interaction with the game. While my hands-on time was short, the variety of how light was projected kept me looking around and wondering what could be lying in wait further up ahead.

Visually, the game is far from mainstream, filled with visual cues that extend from reality from the character models to the environments. The game does a wonderful job mixing reality with the imaginary.

Ultimately, the puzzles and concept behind Contrast really give it a unique flair that makes it stand out from from the sea of games I saw on display. If Contrast can offer a diversity of similarly creative puzzles and continues to embrace its styling, fans of artistic and puzzle games will be in for a treat when it comes out to PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, and PC later this year.