Contre Jour is a challenging and original physics-based puzzle game. The game centers around a creature named Petit who has to collects lights and find its way towards a swirly exit. However, instead of moving Petit yourself, you essentially have to manipulate the surrounding environment via pulling, swiping and using various landscape gadgetry such as tendrils and pulleys.
What you have with Contre Jour is a game that will feel familiar and yet include some innovative and exciting gameplay that genuinely sets it apart. Add to this recipe incredible music and buttery smooth graphics to obtain a game that is ‘experienced’ as much as it is played. Read on for more insight into this beautifully unique game.
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Petit is, for all the wants and purposes of description, a blob of little feature besides a wide eye and something that manages to combine tail and haircut. It’s quite cute in a way and you certainly grow to express concern for it as it traverses the stunningly designed levels in the game.
To make Petit move you have to manipulate and ‘morph’ the landscape. So, if Petit is lying on top of a blob of land, you can grow the space beside and watch as it rolls down the newly created hill. You can create various hills to make Petit roll, stop or be collected by one of the interactive features each level contains. These include: slingshots, tentacles, portals and more, and subsequently move Petit around the screen and gradually guide him toward the exit.
Despite using a different way of moving your character, controls remain intuitive. If anything I’m slightly reminded of games like Cut The Rope where you use environmental elements to guide the sweets towards Om Nom’s hungry mouth. You don’t ‘control’ the sweets directly but you have ways of guiding them towards the goal.
Each level is refreshingly different to the last. There is a nice variety to the elements which help move Petit and you get to explore these as you progress, before being able to combine them in more complex levels. Contre Jour offers scope too, providing great longevity with 100 levels spread over five chapters. Each level includes three lights to collect so, for the perfectionist, it can be one tough challenge.
Each level has an entirely unique way of being completed and the puzzle factor hits hard as you contest the physics-based gameplay which can easily see Petit fall or be harmed by more dangerous parts of the landscape. I found myself taking long hard looks at each level and working out exactly how to solve it. While sometimes you get lucky or complete the level via patient trial and error, it continually exercises your synapses and logic ability.
The graphics, while essentially 2D are quite beautifully and sumptuously designed. Like many cool games, your character is a black blob which becomes vivid against colourful backgrounds. You need only look towards games like They Need To Be Fed and World of Goo for similar examples.
You generally get a mixture of blacks, whites, greys and blues and, while this isn’t a colour-fest by any means, it stylises the game wonderfully and makes it feel very cool to play. The animation compliments this really well too. Everything is incredibly smooth and realistic in terms of physical movement; from the small bump Petit faces when you change the landscape beside it to the bouncy nature of the tendrils, it’s immaculately realised throughout every level.
Sound & Music
The thing that strikes you most about the in-game sound is how atmospheric it is. It helps zone you into Petits curious little world and keeps you engaged. The musical score was composed by David Ari Leon — who did the music for he animated series of both Spider-Man and Incredible Hulk — and it sounds great, mixing French-sounding motifs with the subtle feel of a Tim Burton movie.
Original Yet familiar
Now, I know the above sounds like a contradiction in terms but, while the game feels quite original to play, you can recognise subtle influences or similarities to other games here and there. While this makes it easy to play and get into, you do also feel like you’re playing something unique and innovative.
I should also add that it helps reviewers like myself to build a picture of gameplay! The graphics are a mixture of those from Freeze! and World of Goo, with a pinch of They Need to Be Fed thrown in for flavour. Gameplay, as mentioned, reminded me a little of Cut The Rope and the way you complete levels, collect items and progress is very similar to all these titles.
The ability to manipulate the landscape is perhaps a true first, I’ve certainly not encountered that before on Android. If you add in the various elements which move Petit around you do conclude that, while it feels very conventional at times, there is enough originality to make it seem like a game you want to play.
Contre Jour is a beautiful game which manages to be engaging, challenging and fun. You have probably played similar games but nothing quite like it. It automatically feels comfortable to play without freaking you out with too much innovation. Contre Jour is definitely experimental yet seems to be as comfortable as warm slippers at the same time, genuinely paradoxical.
If you like any of the games described in the review, you’ll be sure to find this engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable. The game requires skill, timing, a dash of patience and a logical mind. If you value physics-based puzzle games, this will keep you entertained and challenged for many hours. Definitely check it out.