Using style elements from Film Noir, cabaret and Vaudeville, Contrast will center on Didi as the main protagonist and Dawn, 8-year-old Didi’s imaginary friend. As Dawn, and with Dawn’s unique abilities, players will explore the world of Contrast and help Didi reunite her parents.
Much of the buzz surrounding Contrast centers on Compulsion’s use of light and shadow as a mechanism for solving puzzles. Dawn has the ability to become her own shadow at will. In addition, Dawn can traverse other shadows as if they were solid platforms as well as phase through flimsier shadows. Players (as Dawn) will also collect orbs of light which power objects necessary to the solution of puzzles. Light can be manipulated by Dawn in other ways as well. Players will move light sources like spotlights to reveal bits of the environment not visible otherwise.
Set against a 1920’s backdrop, the story of Contrast centers on Didi’s quest to find her missing mother, a cabaret singer. The trailer for the game indicates that Didi’s mother is in trouble with some dangerous people and that her father is absent as well, presumably searching for a way to help his wife. Contrast will examine complex adult issues from an imaginative child’s perspective which should make for some interesting plot development. Compulsion heralds the game as a mystery centered around cabaret, live jazz, fairgrounds and illusions. The developers have also stated somewhat enigmatically that the story will cause the player to question what is real and what is not suggesting that there will be more to Didi and Dawn’s story than meets the eye.
Contrast will feature an original jazz-based soundtrack with the musical stylings of Laura Ellis. A Femme Fatale jazz-singer who draws her inspiration from Film Noir Vixens, Laura Ellis released her aptly named album, Femme Fatale in 2011. Compulsion seems strongly invested in creating an immersive audio experience in Contrast. In addition to Ellis, Wave Generation, known for their work on Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect has worked with the developer to create the ambiance and interactive audio of Contrast.
For those interested in how the shadow and light mechanics of Contrast will work, the E3 demo of Contrast provided some insight into it’s puzzle-based gameplay. In the demo, Dawn must reach a hot-air balloon caught on a billboard. In order to reach the balloon, Dawn uses collected light orbs or “luminaries” to power-on a carousel in a near-by courtyard. With the carousel turned on, Dawn can switch to shadow-mode and scale the shadows of the moving carousel horses as they glide across the walls. Early information suggests that most of the games puzzles will be solved using some combination of light and shadow elements which makes sense as shadows cannot exist without light.
Though it’s too early to tell, Contrast may be a contender for some gaming awards this year gathering nominations at E3 from across the gaming industry for Best Platformer, Best Downloadable Game, Best Indie Game and Best of E3.
No official release date has been announced yet though it seems the originally intended release date for PC was May, according to Ellis’ website. Contrast is scheduled to be released sometime this year via the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live and PC. Compulsion also announced the game will be available for PlayStation 4.
A trailer for Contrast can be viewed below.