YOU’RE NOT A VERY GOOD LIAR
Contradiction is a point-and-click adventure game done entirely with full-motion videos featuring real life actors and locations. Funded on the popular crowdfunding website Kickstarter, it’s a throwback to a style done in the 1990s, known mostly for its hilariously cheesy acting, cheap production values, and middling gameplay. While Contradiction wears its inspiration on its sleeve proudly, it excels in many aspects its predecessors typically stumbled at and, as a result, supersedes its expectations.
You take on the role of Inspector Frederick Jenks, investigating the death of a young post grad business student named Kate Vine. Although the official conclusion is that she committed suicide, some pieces of evidence and some of the testimony taken down have raised some questions. It is now your job to dig further into the case and question those connected to Kate in the village of Edenton as well as in the mysterious business training course she attended known as Atlas.
The story right as you start is engrossing as the game wastes little time giving you people to question. It progresses at a good pace, always giving you something new in the story to want to investigate. The new details and plot twists that come to light serve to engross you even more and it accomplishes this extremely well, even as the story gets more crazy. By no means is it groundbreaking storytelling, but it doesn’t try to be. Some plot points have been used many times before, but they are used here in entertaining and varied ways so that it doesn’t feel like a rehash of another story. Only in the ending does this falter a bit; not because it’s bad but because it comes rather abruptly and with some unanswered questions as well as a setup for a sequel.
The numerous characters have varied personalities and you’ll grow to love and hate them thanks to the performances of the actors. There isn’t a bad performance here and every actor appears to be enjoying playing their roles, often being overly expressive and bombastic. Is the acting cheesy? Yes, but in a fun, entertaining way. There are no cringingly bad lines or unconvincing moments. Instead, there’s just over-the-top moments done on purpose for entertainment. Regardless of the serious premise of investigating a death, Contradiction is meant to be fun.
Gameplay is very easy to understand. You use only your mouse to point and click on options laid out on the screen. It’s intuitive and simple to understand. There is a keyboard only option as well but that is not as intuitive as the mouse, though it still works fine. You need to ask the various people of interest questions and examine their responses for contradictions in order to get more information about the case. Some areas will at times have something for you to search for, which is as simple as clicking the magnifying icon when it appears. This isn’t a game of mechanics, as they are all easy to execute. It’s all about figuring out who’s lying.
While some adventure games require strange leaps in logic in order to figure out some puzzles, Contradiction is an easy game. Not too much of the deducing was obviously simple but none were really challenging either. During my playthrough, I only got stuck three times, all of which consisted of answers that required you to remember what you had seen rather than what someone had said. This is the one aspect in the game that isn’t that well explained but it happens so infrequently, it’s barely an issue. I really enjoyed solving each inconsistency though, as the game definitely has many ‘ah ha’ moments. Still, I ultimately breezed through my seven hour playthrough so this isn’t for those looking for a challenge. Also, I don’t think the game stands up to replayability unless you play it with other people who haven’t played it yet.
The presentation of the game is really well done. Many of the areas you navigate are fully shot videos rather than the typical still images, showing rippling waters and flags blowing in the wind. All of the scenes are high quality picture that are far cries from the genre’s pixelated roots. The game’s soundtrack is nothing to listen to outside the game, but regardless features some nice compositions that fit the tone of the game. Voices in the game are typically clear to hear but there are some instances that an actor was perhaps too far away from the mic, resulting in a couple muffled and quiet lines.
Technically, Contradiction suffers from some issues. For a PC game, graphic options are non-existent, with only a full screen toggle being available. The main menu is also poorly laid out, as everything is laid out in columns unceremoniously. During my playthrough, I ran into a couple of what I’m assuming are bugs, including my progress being wiped as the game randomly loaded a previous save, the game forgetting to play the opening cutscene when I first started, and being unable to close the game after completing it.
The Verdict: 7.5 out of 10.0
Despite some technical issues and an abrupt ending, Contradiction is a fun adventure. The story is captivating, production values are high, and the acting is entertaining. Even though the gameplay isn’t very difficult, it’s still engaging and enjoyable and it’s never so easy that it becomes boring. It may not be a substantial experience but not everything needs to have endless replayability and depth to be enjoyable. If you’re in the mood to do some sleuthing, Contradiction has that and more in spades.
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Esteban Cuevas is an Associate Editor for Middle of Nowhere Gaming and solves mysteries on the side with his trusty canine companion DD. That stands for Double Detective. You can follow his Twitter for everyday sleuthing and his WordPress site for other various mystery stuff. Like ghost pizza. And arson. I’ve said too much.