Contour is a clever re-imagining of Marble Madness by Sean Hawkes, creator of several games entered into previous Casual Gameplay competitions such as Orbit and Clack. An isometric grid is placed over the playing field that holds a ball and a white exit square. Click on individual tiles to raise the ground from that point, causing the marble to roll downhill. The goal is to move the marble to the exit tile by raising and lowering the floor, a feat that requires both intelligent planning and fast clicking.
Contour is made even more interesting with varied level design, and integrated level editor, and a number of unique tiles that spice up the gameplay. Green squares will accelerate the marble, while red tiles slow you down. Purple tiles teleport you from one area to another, and brown blocks act as walls to keep the marble from rolling off the field. The only way to lose is to get thrown out of bounds, fall off the grid, or get stuck in an infinite loop (something of an achievement in itself), in which case you can simply use the reset option to clear the map. Defeat is always a temporary set-back and, in this case, is usually kind of fun.
Analysis: It's become a pattern for me to close reviews by eviscerating the hopes and dreams of the game developer by point out a crippling interface, mechanical or balancing issue. In Contour's case, I've got nothing. This game does precisely what you'd expect it to do, and it does it well. Whenever you fail you feel like the failure was your own and take some pleasure in that ownership. When you succeed, your agile tact and geometric cleverness ring like choir bells. Sean Hawkes should keep making games, he's quite good at it.
So good, in fact, that the judging panel for our 4th Casual Gameplay Design Competition gave Contour the nod for the best use of the "ball physics" theme.
Well-made from tip to stern, Contour oozes polish and creativity just as thickly as Sean's other games. As Patrick said, this game does exactly what it set out to do, and it does it extremely well. My favorite part is turning order into chaos to complete each level. Raising the grid distorts an otherwise perfect pattern, and by the time I've worked the marble to the goal, so many squares have been raised and lowered the resulting scene is a bit of a mess. A functional mess. A mess I made.
Also, don't forget Contour has an integrated level editor thus extending its replay value considerably. A wide variety of levels, including an 18 hole golf course(!), are available in the comments. Just copy and paste into the game to play them.