You’ll often come across a review in the Pocket Gamer containing a statement along the lines of ‘it’s like Angry Birds’ or ‘much as Cut the Rope works’.
Some may call it lazy, but in terms of getting across how a game plays it’s a far more effective technique than describing what is essentially a retread of a popular game in agonising detail.
You play a black little blob called Petit, looking for light (stars, essentially) and a big blue light to exit each level. You can’t move Petit directly, so you have to rely on stretching tentacles (the ropes), moving the ground so he rolls the right way, or sling-shotting him through portals.
Levels vary between Cut the Rope-esque reaction puzzles where you have to attach and de-attach the tentacles at the right time to navigate past spikes, sling-shot levels (with one all but screaming out 'Angry Birds', with its wooden tower that needs toppling), and everything in-between.
This action is all set to some rather beautiful accordian work, wrapping the game up in a sad and lonely atmosphere accentuated by some Limbo-esque visuals that are at once both stark and beautiful to watch.
Elsewhere, all is as you’d expect. There are the aforementioned spiky traps and portals, puffing plants that can propel you upwards, and countless levels involving you swinging your Petit at the right strength.
The tentacles are bouncier than standard ropes, so often you’ll find these swings result in some frustrating missed stars as Petit bounces around helplessly. The right move often results in the desired result, though, so a quick change in tactics usually does the trick.
However, by the final world you may be excused for feeling a little exhausted by the whole affair.
It’s not so much what Contre Jour does wrong that’s the issue - it’s more that it doesn’t do anything new, despite initially across as something fresh.
The ground manipulation aspect, similar to Bumpy Road, is barely used despite being a major element of the early levels. Once you’re out of the tutorials, the game may well as just have been called Cut the Rope: Limbo, given how the levels almost exclusively rely on timing your ropes/tentacles.
With so many links to popular games gone by, Contre Jour can feel awfully like a Greatest Hits collection rather than its own album. It’s a polished package, sure to appeal to newcomers or occasional iPhone gamers, but these are all tunes you’ve heard many times before.