I am constantly on the look-out for neat little games my son can play on our iPad. Or I should say my husband is, because I rarely farm the marketplace. Ha!
Oftentimes I will find games installed on our iPad and play them. You would think two gamers married to each other would discuss games habitually. We do, in our own ways, but with both of us having jobs, a kid, and household responsibilities, it’s easy to forget things.
One night I had sat down with the iPad. Nights are sacred in this house. I do not crash before midnight. I prefer the isolation. The quiet. The darkness. No, I was never stuffed into a closet as a child. I have my own problems stemming from my childhood, but whatever terrors transpired during the night therein never affected my love for the night. Perhaps it was my love for the stars.
My father wanted to be an astronaut. I remember he was friends with one, once. We lived in Houston, and I adored going to Space Center Houston. Every kid got to go, and even the schools would often take the students on field trips. But one day during the summer (my parents divorced when I was 3, and every summer I stayed with my dad for a month) he took me out of summer camp early. It was a big surprise, he told me.
Imagine my face when we got a personal tour of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory! I even saw an astronaut being suited up, and placed into the pool. We watched in fascination as he welded some scrap metal underwater. The experience never propelled me into an astronomy career, but I still love the stars all the same.
When I fired up Contre Jour for the first time, I was intrigued. Its art direction has the same ambience as Limbo, but instead of being a puzzle-platformer, it’s a physic-based puzzle game. If you know anything about me, you know I love puzzle games.
I will admit, though, I was a little perplexed as to what exactly the game was. Contre jour is actually a French term used in photography that means, “against the daylight”; which, in photography terms, refers to backlighting.
You control the environment an armless and legless cyclops known as Petit inhabits (an homage to Le Petit Prince. I was that precocious child who read the book at a young age; albeit not in French). Lacking in the limb department, he needs help collecting lights that look curiously like stars, and to eventually find his way to a lighted portal. You can accomplish this by manipulating the various platforms and…sticky tendrils? It’s unclear why they’re hanging around, swaying in the wind, but they are nothing if not beneficial.
The mechanic is somewhat reminiscent of Angry Birds, though instead of tracking trajectories, you get to manipulate momentum. Hopefully without unintentional alliteration. The platforms are touch sensitive, and can be raised or lowered to allow Petit to move. You can move the tendrils to attach to Petit as he is moving. Some are able to stretch, some do not, and some you are able to move around.
There are, of course, a number of obstacles in your way: spiny walls, cyclops venus Petit traps, and the unimaginable depths at the end of the screen. Five worlds wait for you to play in; each one different from the last, and there are over 60 single levels.
Lastly, the biggest component that hooked me was the music. It’s no surprise I’m a fan of music – I was raised by musical parents, and have taught myself to play a couple of instruments. Music, for me, is an experience of the game itself. The first time I heard this piano composition, I fell in love. I am a lover of classical music, especially the piano, and this sounded very Chopin. Its dark, whimiscal tone draws me in, and picks up where lack of narration or sound effects trails off. Oftentimes, I think we could do with less narration and more music.
Contre Jour is available on the iOS and DroidOS for $0.99 USD. A crying shame, if you ask me. This little game could have easily sold for more, judging by the content and replayability. Not to mention how kid friendly it is; something I definitely search for. Hearing my son giggle when he flings Petit to his death is at once adorable, and dark.
“night: her sable dome scattered with diamonds, fused my dust from a light year”