by Joseph Leray
I know, I know -- 2D puzzle platformers are the de facto way to get people to notice your independently-developed video game. There's a reason for that, really: the genre has a long history and a set of best practices that make it (comparatively) easy to recognize what it does well. There's a certain level of audience literacy there, too -- everybody pretty much knows how they work.
Still, Compulsion Games' "Contrast" has a nice visual hook and a great setting: Paris at the height of the Roaring Twenties. The game follows a young, possibly orphaned girl named Didi as she navigates a mysterious world of smoky speakeasies, Vaudeville acts, and Houdini-esque street magicians with the help of her imaginary friend, Dawn. The basic gameplay conceit, as I understand it, is that Dawn can switch between the 3D reality and a 2D shadow world at will, using negative space to jump, bounce, and leap through Montmartre.
While our fascination with the inter-war period is easy to spot in the broader pop culture -- think Boardwalk Empire or (ugh) The Great Gatsby -- there seem to be a dearth of games that deal with the 1920's, and even other pseudo-film noir projects generally take place much later.
With few other details, do enjoy the trailer and some embedded screenshots below. "Contrast" is being published by Focus Home Interactive and will be available for Windows, Xbox Live Arcade, and PlayStation Network "before the end of the year."
And if any marketers are listening, here's one for free: bundle this up with "Remember Me" and "The Saboteur," call it the Paris Pack, and watch the money come in.