It’s been a while since I reviewed a game, but I’ve been playing Contradiction recently and finally finished it. It probably took me longer than it should have, there was plenty of wandering around and forgetting to ask the right person about a new clue but after 5 hours (according to Steam) I finished it. It’s not the longest game to play and I was pretty sure it was longer than that but I’ll trust Steam with this. It can be found on Steam for £6.99 which isn’t the cheapest mystery game out there but I think it’s a good price for what you get and it might end up in sales at some point. It is available on PC and Mac and also available as a mobile game on iOS and I can see it working pretty well as a mobile game though I played the PC version. As far as I’m aware there are no differences at all between the different platforms.
Contradiction, or to give it its full title ‘Contradiction – The All Video Murder Mystery’ or ‘Contradiction – Spot the Liar’ I’m not sure which as both are used, is pretty much a case of it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a mystery game where everything is done with live videos and photographs in a stereotypical small English village. There is the addition of a large house that homes a possibly cultish group that helps with business strategies that you may not find in most villages but anyone who lives, or has been to, a small English village will probably recognise the pub and village hall.
This game does seem to have an age restriction on it, you have to enter your date of birth on Steam before it lets you see the page and video previews of it, but I’m not sure what it is. There is mention of drugs and, fairly obviously, murder, in the game but I can’t think of anything else that would age restrict it.
The main draw for me with this game was the whole point and click murder mystery aspect, I do love those games even if they are often terrible, with the addition of the videos of actors as I haven’t played a game like that before. The basis of the storyline is that there was a suspicious death and the main character, Jenks, who you play as, is a detective who has one night to solve it.
You have a map that shows the village and you can travel around it either by clicking on the location you want to go to on this or by using the arrows on the screen. The arrows do get a bit confusing at times, especially in the woods at the end of the village where I often found myself accidentally heading in the wrong direction after heading off one of the junctions. This did get a bit frustrating to start with but got less so over time as I got more used to the fact that if you turned off to a certain place you’d have to click to the right rather than left to get back on track or if you were going past this building which arrow you had to click depending on which direction you had come from. I can see this being something they could have improved but it didn’t bother me too much. Other than that this method of moving around is really easy to pick up and pretty self explanatory, though you do get a mini tutorial or tips at the beginning. Most of these locations in the village are used as setting for cut scenes that move the story on or you can sometimes search for clues, you get a helpful magnifying glass in the corner that tells you when you do this.
The main detective part of this game is the questioning. Every character has specific locations you go to question them and a couple are only available later in the game. When talking to people you get a screen that has a list of topics or clues on the top left which you click on to ask the person about. Underneath you get bullet points from the answers you get in the cut scenes. This is where the game’s name comes in and if you think that something in the recent answer has contradicted a previous answer then you click on the two facts and, if you’re correct, this leads to a cut scene with more information and possibly another clue. This part of the game is equally parts fun and frustrating, to me anyway. I found that a lot of the time was spent going round and asking everyone about everything you find and the only way to continue is to make sure that everyone has answered about everything. This does mean that sometimes you’ll ask someone something, go to the next person and they give you a new clue so the next time you return to the first person you only have one thing to ask about. I just prefer it when there’s a few things to ask at once, it keeps the game flowing quicker than having to keep going back and forth between the same people as travel time breaks it up.
One thing I will say is that I found quite often it wouldn’t let me exit from the screen where I was asking questions. I don’t know if this was a Windows 10 thing or because I have a touch screen as it sometimes seemed to be after I accidentally used the touch screen (I sometimes wipe the screen and forget it’s touch screen, does anyone else do that or is it just me?). It just wouldn’t click on the exit and it took a few times of this happening before I realised that if you replay an answer from the person it lets you get out of it no problem. That saved a lot of frustration as I’d either have to save before starting a conversation or risk it and end up losing ten or fifteen minutes of gameplay and going back through the exact conversations I’d just had after restarting the game.
There isn’t much more to explain about the gameplay, it’s easy to understand the mechanics and easy to follow. Down the right side of the screen you have an overlay with buttons for evidence (the notebook), the map (the compass), tips (the lightbulb) and the exit/home button. When you click on the notebook you get a menu that shows all of the items and clues you have and you can show all of the answers to everyone’s questions. It’s rare but there are a few times when you can use previously found items to move the story on. Most of the time these are fairly obvious where you need to use them as they are found fairly nearby or you’ve found a dark space not that long ago and then pick up a torch. The exit/home button screen has the normal saves and options but also lets you replay any of the people’s answers if you want.
The storyline for this game is pretty good. There’s plenty of background outside of the crime you’re investigating that adds depth to the world but unfortunately the game devs did run out of money and the ending was apparently altered because of this. I think it could definitely work for a sequel and things like the supernatural hints in parts of the game would be fun to explore more and a bit more into the Atlas company would be interesting to look into. I’m not sure how it would work as a crime thing then as there’s only so many crimes that can happen in such a small village (even Midsomer Murders might have difficulty there) but with a new character or Jenks just being curious I could see it working.
It’s definitely a very linear game and you can’t miss a clue as it won’t let you progress beyond a point until you have it. You do have the option of calling up the station for a hint but I found that as long as you go through the village and ask everyone about everything and go for the physically travelling through using the links on each page rather than the map then you’ll finally find a new clue. I did get a bit stuck on some of the contradictions and will admit to looking up online for two of them as I was not getting it because I was choosing the wrong option in the right answer group.
As far as whether I’d recommend this game I think I probably would if you’re a fan of point and click detective stories. The acting is a bit over the top quite a lot of the time, I lost count of how many times Jenks said haves you seen THIS, or variations of it, not long into the game, but I really liked that for some reason as it just seems to work. If you don’t like overly dramatic acting though then this would be a game to miss.
I did play this game along but I can see it being a lot of fun as a party game with a group of friends working together to solve it. I know I saw the beginning of a livestream that seemed like fun, I’m going to back and watch the rest of it now I’ve finished the game as I wanted to avoid spoilers, but a bit part of that is the joking around about the storyline or answers the characters give as well as the gameplay itself as there isn’t all that much to it.
My only real criticism of this game is the way the crime was solved. The clue that solved it all was found pretty early on within the storyline so when it turned out that was the key to everything it was a bit disappointing. Maybe I watch too many detective TV shows but it seemed like it maybe could have done with something a bit different that wasn’t such an early clue. Though I guess this may have been part of the rushed ending and I can forgive it as the game itself was fun to play and I did enjoy it.
It was developed by and published by Baggy Cat Ltd. though it was funded with a Kickstarter campaign and the budget they aimed for was £3,000 so don’t expect a big budget game at the end of it, though it is a lot of fun to play and I can see myself coming back to it when it’s been long enough for me to forget the outcome, or I just have a craving for some cheesy over the top acting and ‘have you seen… THIS before,’ because that was entertaining all by itself. Though I don’t recommend any kind of drinking game based around that phrase, you’d end up with alcohol poisoning.