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Contre Jour for iOS blends beauty, puzzles

If you like Cut the Rope, World of Goo, or hauntingly beautiful physics-puzzle games, you'll go "sur la lune" (over the moon) for Contre Jour.

A screenshot simply can't do justice to Contre Jour, a truly beautiful game.
A screenshot simply can't do justice do Contre Jour, a truly beautiful game. Chillingo

If World of Goo and Cut the Rope somehow got sucked into a black hole, Contre Jour is what would emerge from the other side. This breathtakingly beautiful and relentlessly addictive puzzler isn't the most original iOS game ever, but it's definitely one of the most wonderful.

"Contre jour" translates literally to "days against," but in this case it refers to a photo-backlighting technique. And once you eyeball the game's lush backlit levels, you'll understand the reference.

But it's hard to escape comparisons to World of Goo, not just in the level design, but also in the goo-ball-like "hero" of the game, Petit. The little guy's nothing more than a gelatinous eyeball, and it's your job to roll, fling, and otherwise maneuver him to the glowing blue orb---collecting as many glowing lights as possible along the way.

This is not unlike capturing as many stars as you can before feeding Om Nom in Cut the Rope. And, in fact, Contre Jour employs some similar mechanics, like ropes and tentacles that swing and bounce Petit around some levels.

You also steer him by physically manipulating the landscape, raising the ground here, lowering it there, and so on. I'll let you discover the other tools on your own, as they're a big part of the fun. Incidentally, if you want to earn three stars for each level, you need to collect all the glowing lights before escaping into the orb.

Contre Jour boasts one of the most beautiful musical scores I've ever heard, starting with a lovely piano piece that accompanies the first of the game's three worlds. Each of these includes 20 levels, for a grand total of 60--not nearly enough, in my humble opinion. Many gamers will blast through these in just a couple hours.

That said, while some levels aren't too challenging, others are maddeningly difficult--especially on an iPhone or iPod Touch, where multitouch requirements can cause too much finger blockage of the screen. This is a game that begs to be played on the iPad, where mechanics don't get in the way.

Still, don't let that stop you from snapping up one of the best iOS games I've played all year.