Contre Jour HD Review

Plenty of iPhone games offer fun ways to pass the time, and almost all of the popular ones are well designed and easy on the eyes. But games that we’d call beautiful are few and far between (World of Goo and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP come to mind). Now we can add Contre Jour HD to the list.

Contre Jour HD (which translates roughly to “against day”) is a physics-based action puzzle game that’s every bit as fun to play as Cut the Rope or Angry Birds, but with a jaw-dropping and highly immersive atmosphere. This is a game that’s best enjoyed at night, with earbuds, on a breezy balcony, with a glass of Pinot noir and a view of the Eiffel Tower. Or, you know, something like that.

Big Brother is watching you.

Just like in Cut the Rope, your goal in Contre Jour HD is to use various means of conveyance to deliver a stationary object (here, it’s an eyeball) from point A to point B without impaling it on spikes or dropping it into a pit. To do that, you have several tools at your disposal. One is the ability to subtly shape the ground. For instance, you can make a small mound appear under your character to roll him forward, or place one in front of him to make him come to a halt. Most levels also have tentacles that you can attach to the eyeball to swing it around. Some of the tentacles are elastic, while others act just like the ropes in Cut the Rope.

You’ll encounter other ways to move the eyeball as well, like slingshots, portals, and tap-powered air jets. Most of these things you’ve likely encountered in other games, but even for gaming newbies, it’s all very intuitive and simple to pick up. And the casual crowd shouldn’t have too much trouble beating the game, particularly since you can skip any problematic levels and return to them later. But hardcore gamers don’t need to despair, because each level contains three clusters of light that you can collect on your way to the goal if you want to be able to get 100% completion.

Swingers.

So the gameplay isn’t revolutionary, but it’s certainly entertaining and challenging enough that you’ll often need to pause to strategize before starting a level. What really stands out about Contre Jour HD is its presentation. The soundtrack is made up of classical piano music that’s light years beyond what you’ll find in most iPhone games. It’s gorgeous, elegant, and perfectly suited to the weird, otherworldly, silhouetted graphics. If you’re not using headphones while playing this game, you’re doing yourself a major disservice. The atmosphere is that beautiful.

There’s not much to complain about in Contre Jour HD. Our biggest qualm is that many of the gameplay elements are inspired by– or lifted directly from– Cut the Rope. Most of the puzzles require you to swing the eyeball from tentacle to tentacle, very much like you would if you were delivering candy to Om Nom. Some levels even have tentacles that are attached to a track, and you need to carefully adjust their position to keep the eyeball from touching spikes. Sound familiar? But it’s hard to complain too loudly when we’re having this much fun. And anyway, Contre Jour HD brings lots of its own ideas to the table, so it’s not a clone by any means.

Contre Jour HD takes tried-and-true puzzle elements and combines them into a truly special gameplay experience that’s just as well suited to the casual crowd as it is to seasoned veterans. Where it comes into its own is in its gorgeous graphics and deeply immersive piano music. Contre Jour HD is an easy game to recommend to just about anyone with an iPhone.

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