Contre Jour, a new title from App Store veteran Chillingo, is a charmingly mysterious physics based puzzler that gets much of its appeal from its unique style.
What is it?
Contre Jour manages to be dark, whimsical, and elegant all in one ever-so-strange package. It’s a beautiful game, and one that doesn’t quite fit the App Store mode. That said, it’s another good sign that devs are starting to branch out creatively in the casual game genre. They can’t all be vector-like cartoon graphics in a rainbow barrage of color, right? Contre Jour says there’s more to gaming than that. What exactly that more is is difficult to define, but it’s haunting and lovely, with all of the right elements to suck players in to this easy to pick up and hard to put down title.
The goal of the game is to aid Petit, a small creature which resembles a tadpole with one large eye, through a surreal landscape, exiting each level quickly and safely. Petit might look sinister in other environments, but in the greyed-out surroundings of Contre Jour, this little inkblot hero appears gentle and lovable, however strange he (or she) may seem.
How does it work?
The controls for the game are quirky; you’ll spend a little bit of time figuring out what Contre Jour is looking for in manipulating its various tricks and tools. Touches and taps are used to manipulate Petit’s environment, including malleable earth and a variety of what might be Petit’s cousins. These similarly one eyed creatures are limited in movement and varied in their abilities. Some offer stretchy, sticky arms that swing Petit to safely or allow Petit to capture (obtain? absorb?) the softly glowing blue orbs which are scattered throughout the game.
Contre Jour is a movingly presented but basically simple puzzler. The surreal style has been compared to World of Goo, and it has some other elements akin to that game as well. But Contre Jour has a sweet personality some other contenders in the indie-artsy game niche are lacking. The major complaint I have with this game is that there’s not enough of it…which isn’t really much of a complaint. Contre Jour was so engaging it left me wanting more, which is really a compliment.
While the puzzles and physics of Contre Jour aren’t really anything you haven’t seen before (think Cut the Rope), its presentation is absolutely exquisite. The graphics are silky smooth with a hand-animation translated to digital feel. The noir ambience is a little pretentious, but it’s forgivable in light of the game’s overall beauty. Contre Jour’s visual impact is taken to artistic heights by the accompanying score. This isn’t one that has to be muted, and you’ll probably want to kick back with headphones on to become fully immersed in this bewitching experience.
Is it contagious?
I’d say the $0.99 price tag is too low for this little beauty, but it’s fairly easy to beat. As it stands, it’s worth your dollar to experience it—and keep your fingers crossed for more content in updates.