E3: Contrast and Sherlock Holmes Presentation

By Luke Y. Thompson in Video Games
Friday, June 14, 2013 at 3:38 pm

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Contrast was one of the coolest-looking games I saw over the last three days. That said, I didn't get to play it, but the aesthetic and the concept are hugely appealing to my sensibilities.

You play the imaginary friend of a little girl in a 1920s noir universe that looks a lot like Lyons, France. The girl has quite an imagination, because you look like Aeon Flux reinvented as a can-can dancer, but I guess if you've got a female protagonist, making her all fetishy doesn't hurt with the male demo. The game doesn't seem partciularly raunchy or violent in any other way, but we were told the target audience is 18 and up - the obvious inspirations for the game are Pan's Labyrinth and City of Lost Children, with a bit of Bioshock. The little girl, Didi, is looking for her mother, a nightclub singer depicted mostly in silhouette.

And your character, Dawn, has a unique power - she can turn into a shadow, which allows her to use existing shadows as platforming elements, which can then be modified by the creation of new shadows with spotlights and other objects. So a warped carousel on a tilted axis becomes like a downward escalator when projected on the wall.

Like Raziel and his spirit realm, Dawn can pop in and out at will to traverse terrain appropriately. In one quite ingenious sequence, the shadows of Didi's parents arguing are projected onto a large wall, and Dawn must jump over their moving gestures before the conversation is concluded.

I can easily see movie rights to this being pursued. In the meantime, the game will only be $15 on PS4.



Focus Home Entertainment also has a new Sherlock Holmes game entitled Crimes and Punishments, in which, for the first time in their series, you actually play as Holmes, who looks like a cross between David Tennant and Mark Strong. It seems like a fun game of deduction - you run your magnifying glass over things to detect the clues within, piece them together, and then decide how to conduct investigations. There are eight mysteries, and how you conclude one will affect your play in the next - if you send the wrong man to jail, your reputation will suffer and people will treat you differently.

It uses the Unreal engine, but is not a FPS - this isn't the Downey martial-arts Holmes, and the game could be called a third-person deducer. For people with terrible reflexes (i.e. me), it could very well be a must-have.

Less impressive was Bound by Flame, which struck me as the standard fantasy RPG stuff. After Lords of the Fallen, it just seemed like the lower-budget version, which it is, in a way.

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