Kate Vine has been found drowned in a lake outside a small English village. The original cause of death was suicide, but strange circumstances around her death have put that into question. Inspector Frederick Jenks is given only a few hours to find the truth behind her death and, in the process, uncover a dark secret hidden in this sleepy village.
Contradiction: Spot the Liar! is a small independent game from Tim Follin, a well known video game music composer from back in the 8- and 16-bit era. You play as Inspector Frederick Jenks, sent to a small village to find the truth behind a recent murder. The game is a throwback to many old early- to mid-90s FMV games such as Phantasmagoria and Ripper in that the entire game uses live actors and real locations instead of rendered models to tell its story. You wander through the village of Edenton, picking up clues and speaking with the locals about the murder and a mysterious business training program known as “Atlas”, headed by the father and son duo of Paul and Ryan Rand (subtle, I know). The main focus of gameplay is catching people in a contradiction of statements in order to find out what additional information they are hiding.
Traversing the village is made very easy by a handy map system where you can quickly move from location to location without laboriously moving from screen to screen making the game as a whole move along at a good pace. You are also given plenty of items and clues to quiz suspects about, some relevant to the case, some not (or are they?) and each person’s statements about the items are listed for you in order to find the contradictions. This is a game where you actually have to pay attention to what the person says because things you learn early on do come back to relevance later. Fortunately, you can rewatch the video clip with the statement at any time. By the end your inventory does get a bit overstuffed and it can be a bit tedious to sort through it all to get that final contradiction you need. The menu is pretty snappy and easy to read, at least.
I think the biggest thing that ties all of this together are the performances in this game. Contradiction has this great low-budget cheesy charm to it that kept me glued to the screen for the 6 hours it took to complete. It’s quite obvious that everyone involved in the production knew exactly what tone they are going for here and they absolutely nail it. Jenks is the lovable buffoon detective that slowly uncovers something quite not right is happening, but my favorite characters are the Rands, Ryan and Paul who are the leaders of the Atlas program. Paul almost reminds me of an elderly Gordon Gekko and Ryan is his pompous son that you just want to slap around for an hour and spill all his scotch. I also am kind of in love with Ryan’s wife Rebecca, as she is a strong, saucy lady that knows what she wants. You also have Simon and Emma, a young couple who have differing experiences with the Atlas program and the Rands, James, a plant scientist who has some…let’s say….”unique” theories about Atlas and the Chief, who just wants to finish this Christopher Lee movie and go to bed. A huge amount of kudos goes out to everyone involved for putting a great effort into their performances and making the game a joy to play through, unsatisfying ending aside.
This game was Kickstarted and earned around $6000 US and it is a great example that, in a world where game budgets reach into the tens of millions of dollars, you can still pull together a great game for a tiny percentage of that. The developers have talked about a sequel and the success of this game would go a long way in making that a reality. Get some friends together and have a good time with this one.
Contradiction: Spot the Liar! is available for $10 on Steam and an iPad version is available for $5