Distraint: Deluxe Edition: Sppppooooky business decisions
Updated: Aug 20
The world can often be a harsh place where no matter how good a person you are or can be, life can just sometimes screw you over. Distraint tries to portray this from the point of view of an intern at some sort of property firm who has to force people to force people to leave their homes due for a verity of reasons and factors. Well...just keep reading and find out.
Distraint: Deluxe Edition follows a young man called Price as he is forced to (as part of his job) remove an old fail woman named Mrs Goodwin from her home after she cannot pay the bills. This sends Price into a deep existential crisis about his ambitions and the consequences of his actions in his particular line of work. Before I get into my criticisms of the plot I would like to stress that the atmosphere is very good and does it produce some good scares. The plot has a very Silent Hill feeling to it with taking the emotions a person is experiencing and giving it a physical form; twisting it into some truly distressing scenes and concepts. The smaller quieter moments are well paced and carry legitimate tragedy.
Right, now that we have gotten that out of the way....
I will always try to praise a game for attempting to fulfil or ape a certain game series like Silent Hill (We will never get another one short of a company imploding or the IP being sold off). The trouble with this game is a lack of nuance in the writing and a lack of subtly in the horror. The three business men that Price has to win over in order to join the firm are so cartoonish and over the top they would not look out of place in a Captain Planet episode. I understand that the game is trying to make its message clear to the audience but it goes so overboard that it stops being scary and ends up becoming silly. Mrs Goodwin herself is meant to be the sweet innocent that was destroyed by a cruel and uncaring system. I know this because the game was so terrified I missed her purpose as a construct. It keeps reminding me of it in long overdrawn set pieces that get tedious. But to my mind the worst offender of this lack of subtly comes when a pair of hallucinations just flat out explain what they are meant represent; I rolled my eyes because not only of the bad writing but just how little faith the developer had in his audience to think for themselves. The story itself when you look at it is not particularly scary. There is potential due to the relevant themes but the execution is off. I walk through the woods looking for a missing dog and I am assaulted by sound shrieks and spooky visuals popping in and out like the weak source jump scares they technically are. It does not feel like a horror story but more a tragic drama that has horror haphazardly slapped on it. I cannot help but wonder if the game had improved if it had lost the horror angle (or reduced it) and made it a depressing tale of a man trying to hold onto his Humanity in the face of promised wealth. When the game is quiet and sombre it works better as a story, the ending itself (not going to spoil) is a great example of this.
The gameplay is mostly simple 2d puzzle solving. You move either left or right examining everything for items which would help you process. Think of it as classic point and click with the E key and space bar replacing the clicking and the puzzles being less convoluted. As long as you use your head you should be fine as the items you find will work with what you expect the item to work with. A pair of matches, a pile of twigs and a fireplace (pretty easy to put together considering you need to light the fireplace), the rest of the game is spend walking from one place to another sometimes seeing something spooky and scary. To be honest, this is fine. It works well. It is basic but well done puzzle solving that rides real world logic. It is perfectly good.
The game is pixel art and it looks beautiful, the use of colour and lighting make the game suitably haunting and oppressive. Nothing really to complain here, the game looks fantastic.
The game runs very well, no flaws what so ever.
Distraint should be a great game, there is good promise for something really interesting but it is bogged down by rather rubbish writing. Try Lone Survivor instead.