The first thing that struck me about Contre Jour [$0.99 / UHD] was how beautiful it was. Everything about this game is lush and gorgeous -- the art, the music, I could just bury myself in it. The second thing that struck me was that everything seemed a little familiar. Was the art too World of Goo? Or maybe too Limbo? Was this mechanic borrowed from Cut the Rope? Or was that one from Bumpy Road? Or, heaven forbid, Angry Birds?
Familiar elements litter Contre Jour, and I've already seen some people write it off for that reason. Let me be frank: this would be a mistake. This isn't some cheap knock-off that's stolen something from your game of choice. If anything, Contre Jour is an elegy to games past. Developer Mokus has taken the best aspects of any number of physics games and platformers and recreated them into a single imaginative whole.
You control the world of Contre Jour, not its hero Petit (named for La Petit Prince, an inspiration for this game). It is a hostile world, but you have the tools you need to see him safely through. Over the course of 60 single-screen levels, you will nudge, swing, shoot and fling Petit to the safety of a glowing blue light.
To get Petit moving, you can nudge the ground he sits on, lifting it and lowering it to move him into place. Rarely will this be enough to get him to his destination, however. In most levels, you'll employ tentacles, both elastic and not, that can be attached to him and detached at will. Timing perfect swings and launching him with a variety of these tentacles is a skill you'll need to pick up quickly.
There are other tools to play with, too. Some levels have movable tentacles, which you'll need to maneuver carefully to keep from impaling Petit on a lurking spike. Air geysers shoot him away. And, in a pleasantly familiar touch, you can toss Petit through a portal and trust that he'll fly through the other side, inertia intact.
The levels themselves range from simple to sadistic. Nothing actively opposes Petit, but gravity, spikes and hungry plants do an admirable job of standing in his way. Should you find the challenge too much, any level can be skipped freely -- but you need to collect a certain number of lights (there are, of course, three in each level) to unlock the second and third worlds.
Each of the three worlds is lovely and distinct from its fellows. Three instrumental themes accompany your journey, and they deserve a listen through a good pair of headphones. The worlds also manage to look quite different from each other while maintaining Contre Jour's monochromatic aesthetic. The neon glow of the Night world is particularly appealing.
The one drawback of Contre Jour is that on smaller devices some of the later levels require a bit too much coordination. The game supports multi-touch input, so it's possible to tap, nudge and launch all in a few moments, but it's awfully hard to be precise about what you're touching when you're covering the screen with several fingers at once. If you want to collect all the Game Center/Crystal achievements and top each chapter's leaderboard you may find it easier to do so on the iPad where you'll have a bit more room to pull off some of the more complicated maneuvers.
If there is room in your heart for another three-star, one-screen platformer, Contre Jour is more than worthy of your purchase. It's a beautiful, challenging experience. Our forum users seem impressed so far, and I am too. I can't wait to see what's still to come for this game.