Contre-Jour---iOS-Review Contre Jour - iOS Review

   30/08/2011 at 06:39       NewYork       0 COMMENTS. - Score 3/5
 - Contre Jour, iOS, Chillingo, Blob, Black and White

If Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc were black, lacked a mouth, and lacked a personality, you'd have Petit, the star of Contre Jour. Petit, cute as he may be, doesn't seem to be very fussed about accomplishing his goal… whatever that may be. It's up to you, manipulating the world around this black blob dominated by an eyeball, to get him to the exits of 60 levels, while trying to collect the three bonus light orbs within each one. Why? Just. There is no plot.

Petit won't move unless you shift the ground beneath him, setting him off on a downhill trajectory. In addition, you can attach him to ropes (elastic and non-elastic), and launch him like a projectile. The intricacies of gameplay are best observed in the video. You might guess at the influences on display: a colour pallette reminiscent of Limbo; a passive circular protagonist as seen in Loco Roco; portals from Portal; and catapult action like a monochrome Angry Birds.

This all takes place in a hauntingly dark nameless universe, split across three worlds (and more to come, it promises), though you would be hard pressed to find a significant thematic difference between any of those worlds. It is certainly a beautiful desolate backdrop, bringing to mind the industrial isolation of the penultimate level of Flower. Without a message or a purpose, however, it lacks meaning and lacks soul. 

Boosting the artistic feel of the game is the gorgeous soundtrack, a stirringly innocent and simple piano melody which has sounded familiar to some. It's a soundtrack that the developers themselves have described as "poignant", one that "perfectly matches Petit’s journey". But it is worth considering how artificial this sense of poignancy is before getting swept away by it. This is just a blob collecting orbs in a hostile world, after all. Play on mute and see if Petit's journey is quite as emotional.

With no storyline encouragement to traverse the 60 levels, it's down to your gamer instinct to work through them all for the pure challenge of it. Through various layouts and combinations of contraptions, each level poses a unique challenge. There is a logical path through each level, but it is subtle enough that that you will rarely feel like the game is coddling you. For most of the levels there comes a feeling of gamer-satisfaction at finding the right path to the goal (and of course collecting the three bonus lights, as your gamer-OCD will compel you to do). Unfortunately, after completing so many of them, they will begin to feel a bit samey, and tedium sets in.

And that's what I must admit for myself: there came a point where each new level didn't inspire a sense of adventure and curiosity, but a sinking feeling of "Oh, this again". That's not to say that completing one level means you've completed them all, but certainly at some point it feels like the game is testing the same skills over and over. It doesn't help that the scenery doesn't seem to change, or that there doesn't seem to be any overall reason for doing any of it in the first place.

Particularly frustrating are the touch controls, which are, as the platform dictates, rather fiddly on the tiny iOS device. Ground manipulation is not as precise as you might hope it to be, and trying to catch the falling Petit with the end of a rope is all the more difficult when your hand is in the way. Soon you are called upon to perform multiple actions in quick succession, sometimes multi-touch actions. Dexterity may end up being your downfall on a few too many occasions.

What we're left with is a game that will likely get a lot of attention for it's artistic leanings; artistic leanings that few will question and many will gawp at. It certainly is a pretty game, Petit certainly is cute, the music certainly will make you feel melancholy, and it's all wrapped up in a glossy package. The physics are solid and the gameplay is intelligent. The levels are plenty. But at some point, as you are presented with yet another level of black pulleys, black ropes, and black obstacles, and you wonder to yourself if the uncaring black Petit even has a soul, you may also wonder if this is art without a heart.

 

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evilashchris - In response to: Call of Cthulhu Review - 6day(s) ago.
 
Better late than never, eh Ror?
 
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Enjoyed this, cheers!
 
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