Contradiciton is a full motion video game which of course immediately sounds horrible because of all the FMV failures which have preceded it but they have really overcome my expectations. The video is fluid and well produced. They used actual actors so it’s not painful to watch. They used actual film production techniques so it doesn’t sound and look like shit. Overall I am impressed by the gameplay and user interface. Much better than I expected.
The game is essentially a lot of walking around and talking to people. Once you’ve interviewed everyone around you can start looking for contradictions in the answers that they have given you.
The story is a murder mystery centered around a bizarre business school with links to the occult. The writing was quite good and the acting was excellent. I had a number of issues with the Contradictions which sometimes seemed pretty forced (see below). Overall however I felt it was a high quality and well designed game which I enjoyed playing a lot.
They clearly took a lot of effort to make the geographic layout of the locations logical and connected. When Jenks walks into a scene you often see him position himself very clearly looking in the direction that you see when the transition video cuts to the navigation view. This always keeps the directions relative to Jenks’ position. Also the map view quickly comes up between all location transitions and an arrow clearly shows the direction of view of the following scene. This helps to keep the viewer from becoming confused – although navigating in and out of the lake area still got me turned around on occasion.
The interview segments are all filmed in the same locations for each character. This was probably required to reduce the number of shooting locations but it starts to feel a little boring as the game progresses, always going back to the same interview setups. They did do a cute thing with Simon where he answered the door in his chef’s apron around 8 o’clock.
The game progresses in stages where you must solve all the contradictions in a given ‘hour’ before the clock winds forward. I like this type of setup in adventure games because it protects against the situation where you get to the end of the game and can’t win because you didn’t do something way back when (or did do something you shouldn’t have done) and therefore the game becomes unwinnable.
They obviously made an effort to keep the transition segments very short and it’s not cumbersome to walk around between scenes.
Things that worked
Like I said the production quality is top notch. The writing is good as well.
I like the hint/cheat system. The guilt trip where it tracks how many phone-calls and cheats you’ve used is a nice touch.
Sometimes the interface fucks up and you can’t click Exit from an interview.
After 8pm I’m not sure where Ryan is. I guess he’s back in the room with the students but the chief is suggesting I go talk to him and I can’t.
Some of these contradictions are kind of a stretch. I had to do a cheat to figure out I was supposed to ask Paul about why Lisa had been affected by the auto-hypnosis. But it wasn’t clear that auto-hypnosis was actually used that much and there was nothing specifically linking it to Lisa.
Jenks finds a 500 pound note for Kate in Ryan’s car but he won’t ask Rebecca (Ryan’s wife) or Emma (Ryan’s mistress) about it. Come on. Especially when Emma already said Kate was trying to blackmail Ryan. This should at least trigger some kind of information.
Kyle is running around the woods doing crazy shit and he drops Ryan’s car key. I’d love to know why he has Ryan’s car key but “It isn’t worth asking Ryan about the key fob.” OK.
Ryan said originally that “Kate seemed to be enjoying the course and had no detectable problems”. Later he says “He’d heard Kate was thinking of Leaving Atlas” but those statements don’t trigger a contradiction.
It does turn into a lot of just watching video.
After a while when there are like 6 people to interview it starts to feel pretty confusing. Also every new piece of evidence I’m just wandering back to all the people and asking them about it one by one which takes a while.
The final contradiction I could never figure out and had to use a cheat. It turned out to be quite a stretch.