Review: Contre Jour (Xbox Live)
Much like Pendulous, which I reviewed yesterday, Chillingo's latest Xbox Live title, 'Contre Jour' has you guiding the central character - in this case "a mysterious creature called Petit" - through the levels and towards the exit portal. The quirk? You have no direct interaction with the beautiful blob as she passes through a sumptuous looking game.
Version Reviewed: 188.8.131.52
To move Petit through the landscape, you can morph parts of the ground, you can drag out sticky stretchy bungee cords or fixed length ropes to pull her around the level, as they attach to Petit and let her swing from them to reach other parts of the level. By restricting each level to a single screen with no scrolling, Contre Jour feels a very intimate game. It puts more emphasis on moving around each level with precision and thought. Rather than focus on speed and distance as the challenge, this Chillingo title looks for a delicate and accurate control of Petit.
Once more, Chillingo asks you to collect three different items on each level before heading to the exit. It's a formula that works for them, and I see no need to change it. New players to the game will recognise the concept and not have to worry about what they have to do, rather how they are going to do it.
While it might be simple enough to bump the landscape and swing around for the first few levels, when you have to start attaching multiple bungee cords to get Petit into the right locations, dropping two at the same time (multi-touch screen to the rescue), so the third can slingshot her across the screen and past a row of spikes... Yes, you're going to have to really think.
Because of that single screen ethos, it's rare that a level has a linear progression from where Petit starts, through the three stars, and then the exit. You'll need to think about how to move around the screen. Strangely, the biggest concern is momentum. Once Petit slows down, or a bungee stops swinging, it's very hard to get moving again. You can't just nudge her to the left or right, you have to use the landscape if you can.
Thankfully, for a casual game, there are no 'lives'. If you die on a level, be it through falling out of the screen, hitting spikes, or simply pressing restart because you are stuck, everything quickly resets and you can try again. There's no penalty, no limitation, and the only measure of success is if you have reached the exit, and, if so, did you get one, two, or three of the level items?
This is a title that has gone all out in terms of graphical style and presentation. It looks incredibly artistic and a world away from the harsh lines of sprites and cartoon blocks that many level-based action games will immediately grab from the standard developer toolbox.
Each of the five worlds has a unique look. Although they have the same basic elements, the splashes of colours and the extravagant but almost invisible backgrounds create a different feel to each block of twenty levels. The most striking is the almost monochromatic first world, but people looking at the trial version also have a blue tinged world of 'the night' to show the variety on offer. Ten levels each from the first two worlds make up the trial, with a total of one hundred levels in the full game. Twenty is about right for the trial, but it does make the other 80 feel a touch pricey when compared to the $2.99 / £2.29 price tag.
But it is worth it, because a lot of care and love is on show here. For example, the note at the start of the game that says you should put on headphones for the best audio experience. The background piano music is very classical and romantic, while remaining subtle enough to not get in the way of the game play. Every action in the game has an appropriate noise that just fits into the style without jarring you out of the moment.
Perhaps the only thing that is upsetting in terms of style is the rather plain app icon, which illustrates very little of what is great about Contre Jour.
But it's very easy to look beyond that and to one of the Xbox Live titles that I would say is an 'A-Grade' title. Contre Jour looks fabulous, is smooth to play, and reeks of quality. Recommended not just to gamers, but also to developers looking at how to code and present an application with some class.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at