Isometric survival titles are no strangers to the world of video games. While not merely a case of “survive until you die,” Distrust certainly has hints of Don’t Starve and How to Survive, to name a few, while also maintaining its own unique style and atmosphere. Among a crowded genre, it is a standout.
You start by choosing two characters from a cast of 15, each with their own unique stats. After that, you are thrust into a randomly-generated adventure, ensuring that no experience will be the same. Your characters wake up from a helicopter crash and try to proceed to the next “zone” while piecing together what happened.
The game plays much like others in its genre — you click where you want characters to move, and every interaction with the environment is done through clicks and menus. This may sound mundane, but it plays well and you can quickly switch between characters during heightened situations. In addition, the backstory — what little there exists — is told through notes in the environment, which are completely optional and random finds. You can also shift the viewpoint right or left by pressing Q or E, to make sure you see all there is in each room and environment.
You are given a backpack which holds food, clothing, other supplies, and tools. Also, both characters have four stat bars — health, warmth, stamina and satiety (hunger). Over the course of the game, you must keep track of these at all times as you scavenge for supplies and the means to access the next zone. If the warmth or satiety bars are empty, your character will start to take damage. If they lose stamina, which can be regained through sleep or coffee, they start to hallucinate, which can alter the way the game looks or plays. It’s a neat effect that adds to the mystery, especially considering that, as the player, you know as little as the characters do.
As you proceed through the six zones, the difficulty ramps up and the alien “anomaly” enemies seem to grow stronger. They appear more often and in greater numbers when any one character sleeps, which forces the player to choose between potential madness or a potential intruder. The anomalies are dealt with via guns, warmth or light; the latter two methods stress the importance of keeping fires and generators going for more than just your characters’ warmth whenever you are in a building equipped with them.
One of the most striking things about Distrust is the art style. I loved the comic-book feel as it added more to the pulpy, science-fiction/horror feel the game has. Character portraits are gorgeously gritty, and the environments never look too repetitive, which is incredible considering the randomly-generated levels.
The soundtrack serves to further tether the game to be a spiritual successor to The Thing. While much of the game is not like the movie in terms of mechanics, the inspiration is clear and very tasteful. This inspiration becomes even clearer when you hear the brooding score. It is no wonder the marketing compares Distrust to The Thing.
Given the game’s randomly-generated environments and different endings, there is plenty of replay value at hand. One also unlocks additional characters via unlocking certain achievements, an element that encourages multiple playthroughs. It is a title that I think I’ll be coming back to, especially on cold, snowy winter nights when I’m looking for something to drag me in completely.
For the asking price, Distrust is very much worth it, though I would advise against buying it at full price if any of the mechanics described do not suit your tastes. For fans of rogue-likes or isometric survival games, this should be close to the top of your buy list. Bugs and glitches appear to be dealt with in a swift manner, and Cheerdealers posts updates under the guise of reports from the game itself, which is a nice and funny touch.
Distrust is available on Steam for $11.99.
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DISCLAIMER: The product, Distrust, was given to us by publisher Alawar Premium. This does not affect the outcome or final score of the review.
Colton is a computer science student at SUNY Fredonia who hails from Buffalo, NY and would much rather be writing articles, scripts, and poems than code. Find him stressing in your nearest coffee shop. A few of his favorite games are Half Life/Half Life 2, Resident Evil 4 and Super Mario 64.