[dropcap size=big]F[/dropcap]ull Motion Video (FMV) games are one of my favorite things on this planet. Yes, almost all of them originally produced for PCs and Sega CDs were outrageously goofy, but that was part of their overwhelming charm. When FMV basically died out I definitely felt their loss — but a few titles have been arriving recently to reinvigorate the genre. Contradiction was funded at the start of 2014 for just around $6,200. Despite this rather small sum of money when you consider the cost of shooting high quality video and potentially paying actors, developer Baggy Cat was able to produce a fantastically engaging 5+ hour FMV murder mystery adventure game.
Players jump into a small town as agent Jenks who has been sent there in order to uncover the mystery behind a woman’s death. To some, it appears the college-aged Kate simply committed suicide as she had a history of alcohol abuse. But something doesn’t quite add up. It appears to Jenks, and others in the town, that this death was anything but Kate’s own choice. As Jenks, your goal is to explore the town and chat with all the townsfolk in order to gain knowledge about the case as well as uncover secrets which expand beyond this death.
Many may fear that the FMV presentation proves a death sentence to the murder mystery storyline. This is not true! Yes, protagonist Jenks is an incredibly oddball fellow, but it doesn’t actually detract from the tale Contradiction weaves. Many of the characters prove larger than life but fit in perfectly when you consider the storyline itself weaves into very unexpected places. After the first hour (and I finally remembered everyone’s names) the story really managed to draw me in. There was just something utterly compelling about this murder and the mystery surrounding it, but more than that, the locals were just so interesting to chat with!
Really, how many games out there allow you to chat with a cast that includes a woman who owns a pub, a couple who seem to have a lot of secrets from each other, a self-described business guru, and a stoner? The world is just filled with people who are both believable but yet utterly “characters” beyond reality. I loved taking the time to set new evidence in front of them to see their reaction. Of course, the biggest aspect of Contradiction is spotting the lies, or contradictions, in each of their testimony. Their comments are kept as lines of text in your menu and can be placed together. When two contradictory statements are selected they turn green and the person in the hot seat reveals more information.
If you like games such as Phoenix Wright then in many ways you’ll feel at home here. The big difference is that Phoenix Wright never particularly felt believable with it’s out of this world characters. Contradiction is most certainly campy, but it knows it is, and manages to succeed at telling a great story regardless. The biggest disappointments simply lie with the control scheme and ending. The controls on PC make little sense and often I found myself struggling to remember key bindings (you’d be better off playing the iPad release, honestly). With that said, the simple ability to pull up a map and head to any location on the fly was a fantastic choice. There’s nothing more annoying in “screen”-based adventure games than having to click between each and every one to get to a location.
As for the ending, it just feels like it was thrust in at the last minute to tie the game together. Considering how little funding Contradiction had, it honestly makes sense. I desperately hope that the game will sell well enough to facilitate a sequel. There were so many story threads left unexplained and I’ve even devised theories related to a few. Whether they run another Kickstarter or not, I for one am seriously ready for another adventure in the world of Contradiction.