Contre Jour HD in Review – Just Another Puzzle Game?

There are a lot of puzzle games on the App Store, and Chillingo is certainly no stranger to the genre as a publisher.  Every once in a while, however, a puzzle game comes along that screams “look at me I’m different than the rest”.  Each level has three glowing orbs to collect and a goal to reach, reminiscent of just about any puzzle game that exists any more.  The ground can be manipulated ala Bumpy Road, there are organic rope-like things to swing on, and the list goes on of elements that are like other games.  However, I would be willing to bet that you couldn’t name one single game that Contre Jour is patterned after, and in a day where one application market alone can house several hundred thousand games, that’s about as unique as you’re going to get.

There may have been a hint of a plot when you start the game, but at this point I don’t really remember, and it honestly doesn’t matter all that much.  What’s important is that you have to guide a strange but compelling creature named Petit to safety in each of 60 wonderfully crafted levels.  You can’t directly control Petit, so your main method of manipulation will be morphing the land masses to create slides or barriers or whatever is needed to start and stop Petit’s movement.

The next most popular aid is organic rope like things.  Some are really flexible, while others have very little pull.  You can drag the loose end of one to Petit to attach it, then when you’re ready to let go tap the end that’s not hooked to Petit.  Sometimes in a tight situation it’s kind of hard to manipulate the ropes, but for the most part it works well.  You’ll also encounter other items like teleports, geysers and pulleys that will help you get Petit to the exit of each level.

The keys to successfully snagging the three orbs on each level are timing and persistence.  On some levels the third orb is going to be a challenge, while on others you’ll struggle simply trying to reach the exit.  Just keep trying, and in the worst case walk away from the level and go back later.  You can replay any level that you’ve beaten whenever you want, and you only need to get to the exit of a level to move on to the next, though you do need a certain number of orbs to unlock the next world.  The biggest thing I had trouble with was the morphing of land masses.  All you do is touch a part of the mass and drag it to change the shape, but I often found myself fighting to get certain areas to look exactly the way I thought I needed them in order to pass a level.

I don’t know that I’d describe the artwork as “minimal”, but it’s certainly not big on detail, which just adds to the overall charm of the look.  Landscapes are mere outlines or silhouettes, depending on the lighting, Occasionally a creature might lurk in the background, but this only serves to give you the feeling you are being watched.  The ropes have eyes at the base that will open periodically and stay open while Petit is swinging on them, and Petit itself is basically a giant eyeball with a little tadpole tail that is nicely animated.

There are a few sound effects here and there – little pops or suction cup noises or what have you as you manipulate things on the board.  Petit also makes little giggle and gurgle noises occasionally.  There really isn’t any ambient sound, however.  As for the music, it’s actually quite good.  It never dominates the scene, but instead plays to the whole tranquil nature of the game.  In fact, the menu theme almost sounds like a bedtime song.

I know it gets harder and harder to want to play a puzzle game these days, since there are already so many of them available.  Still, I’d encourage you to give Contre Jour a try, especially if you’re already a puzzle game fan.  The levels can get quite challenging, but they never get dull. The atmosphere is well crafted, and Petit is oddly cute in a one-eyed, no body sort of way.  I’ve played a lot of puzzle games on my iPod Touch, and I know I’ve not played anything quite like Contre Jour.

Note: There are two versions of the game on the App Store. Contre Jour ($0.99) for the iPhone/iPod Touch, and Contre Jour HD ($2.99), a universal app that also works on the iPad. 

App Summary
Title: Contre Jour HDDeveloper: Chillingo Ltd
Reviewed Ver:Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$2.99App Size:
  • Original game play
  • Fun, challenging levels
  • Great artwork
  • Wonderful music
  • Land somewhat difficult to manipulate
  • Can be hard connecting ropes to Petit

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