E3 2013: Hands-on: Contrast and the PS4 Controller

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

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Contrast is a title currently in development for the PlayStation 4. Both Richard and myself wanted to try out the PS4’s new controller, and Contrast gave us that opportunity. I can’t fully speak on behalf of Richard, but I believe he and I left the demo with similar impressions.

Contrast Ghost Note

In the demo you play as a stage artist of some sort, or at least you play as a woman dressed as one. The game is decked out with dark lighting and plays on shadows fairly often. Contrast reminded both myself and Richard of Lost in Shadow for the Wii, but in my opinion this really wasn’t a bad thing. I skipped the story cutscenes as they were quite long, and my goal in playing the demo was to really get a feel for the game’s mechanics. It turns out that Contrast is actually a platformer that has some puzzles to solve, and it features a good sense of art direction all around.

Contrast shadow platforming

The character you play as has the ability to find a shadow on the wall and then merge into it. Then you’re able to jump from shadow to shadow to progress through the level. You can collect balls of light to power certain objects in the game, of which they may in turn create a new shadow for you to jump on and use to progress. For example, one location had me power up a merry-go-round where the horses’ shadows would be cast on a wall. I needed to jump on each shadow as they moved, but it all felt a bit clunky. At this point the demo introduced a new mechanic where I needed to jump as a shadow, turn back into a physical person, and then turn into a shadow again. It was nothing groundbreaking and it looked all right, but I couldn’t find that hook or “wow” moment to really impress me.

E3 2013 PlayStation 4 Controller

While playing the demo for Contrast I was able to use Sony’s new console for the first time. The graphics weren’t very different from a PlayStation 3, but then again it’s a very early title in development. The lighting showed a very nice effort, though it’s one of the key elements in the game. The controller for the PlayStation 4 is nice and has a familiar feel to the PlayStation 3’s controller, but it is indeed different. The analog sticks aren’t rounded on the top like they are on the PS3, and this time they are concave. The shoulder buttons seem to be more compact, especially when it comes to L2 and R2, but I can’t tell if this is an improvement or not as I’m not too picky when it comes to controllers. While the face buttons have been altered it seems to be for the better; they feel a bit more sturdy. The only new feature that’s certainly different is the center touch and click button. I don’t know if clicking the button with your left thumb produces the same result as clicking with your right (clicking the same button but in different places), but I’m sure some developers will use it to their advantage. My only criticism for this touch pad is it felt a bit loose. I would want my PlayStation 4 controller to feature a button that has a more solid click, but maybe I’m being a bit too picky.

Contrast will be arriving in Q4 2013 on the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and PC.

About Jared Cyhowski

[Former Staff] Jared is a recent graduate from Fitchburg State University where he studied communications, video production, and English. He enjoys playing video games, watching anime, writing, and of course pizza. His favorite games are Shadow of the Colossus and Final Fantasy IX, but he can’t possibly choose a favorite anime. Jared enjoys following the games industry and observing what will happen next, and he puts out an invitation for discussion on these topics. He loves a great story in these mediums and prefers a stronger narrative design over most features. Jared is personally responsible for creating and managing the Anime section of the website, and hopes to inspired and entertain with everything he writes.