Jesse Makkonen recently brought out the full, Deluxe Edition of the 2D psychological horror game Distraint, and we just had to give our App Army a turn.
Playing as a young man called Price, this is the story of his regret after he'd seized the property on an elderly woman. It's a dark tale with simple gameplay and a short run-time, but what will our community of eager gamers think?
Let's take a look.
Ed Davis (iPhone 7)
I've been playing for about half an hour and I honestly have no idea what's going on. One minute I'm looking for Mrs Goodwin, the next I'm being chased by an elephant.
I feel the game does well at keeping you hooked by its eerie atmosphere and the strange story line. I'm not the biggest fan of creepy games so this did put me a little on edge, but every time I thought there was going to be something to make me jump, large headed people would turn up talking about money or something similar. It's a very strange game.
Mark Abukoff (iPhone 7)
I like the claustrophobic atmosphere of the game and the music seems to fit pretty well. The art is interesting and adds to the atmosphere, and I found the controls easy and simple.
While I kind-of appreciated the moral quandary that the main character was in, it really didn't hold my interest for long. The process of going back over ground that you'd already covered for an object that should have been there on your last pass seemed awkward and unnecessary.
I think this is a game that could be much better if I could care about the characters in it, but, as it is, it's too much like a dark, depressing Russian novel. After a while you really want to turn it off and get some fresh air. There's wasted potential here.
Roman Valerio (iPad Air)
Horror is the least favorite genre of yours truly, and Distraint did an excellent job of solidifying my distaste for it. I failed to finish it, but what I saw gave off a very strong vibe of "Crime and Punishment" by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. I won't spoil any details of the narrative, but this is the story of selling one's soul in exchange for riches and success.
This grim, utterly depressing, and at times uneasy atmosphere happened to become the major turn-off for me, since I play mobile games to have fun and unwind. Unlike the Rusty Lake series, which is distinguished for creepy and disturbing imagery, the puzzles here struck me as fairly plain, uninventive, and involved quite a bit of backtracking.
To make things worse, there are certain stretches in the game entailing a tedious, long wandering against the same unchanging background. All in all, the game is deleted for good, but I reckon it is well worth checking out for ardent fans of horror games since its Steam rating is very positive.
Theodoros Alexopoulos (Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X)
The game does a good job creating the perfect horror atmosphere, accompanied with good, creepy music which gave me chills. Another plus is the controls which are very easy to learn from the beginning and get you right into the game.
The story wasn't very interesting to follow and the search for new items and clues became annoying after a while. Personally, I would prefer more jumpscares instead of people that sing and talk since that's why you play a game like that to begin with.
Paul Manchester (iPhone SE)
Dark and broody with some comical touches, this is very different to most mobile titles out there. I am enjoying the story and musical score, although getting a bit bored with the whole pixel art presentation.
For me, the game is really let down by the controls which just simply aren't that responsive, and for such a slow-paced game it's quite amazing what a negative impact it has. The second gripe concerns the on-screen icons for clues that frequently do not appear when they should. This left me scratching my head a few times just because an icon had failed to show the next interaction.
With a few tweaks I think this could be lot better and I may wait to delve deeper until the developer (hopefully) makes a few updates.
Distraint's interest comes mainly from the sordid atmosphere and moral hassle of the character we play. The sound is successful and very immersive seeking - and finding - more discomfort than a veritable horror.
The environment, though pixellated, has a graphic unity, with little details and light effects that catch the imagination. The controls at the bottom of the screen are a bit overwhelming and rather basic. The save points aren't very immersive and the riddles are quite uninteresting, but the sarcastic tone and adult theme have deeply seduced me.
Finally, I recommend this game, thanks to its strong atmosphere and personality.
Timo Forschner (iPhone 8+)
First off, I like the game. It shows that not all horror walking simulator games must be first person games. The graphics are nice, even more so once you realize that the game was made by one person, and the dark pixel art style creates a nice atmosphere.
It often reminded me of the old Silent Hill games, with a nice use of colour in this otherwise dull world. I recommend playing this game with headphones, otherwise a lot of the atmosphere will get lost since the sound also helps to build up the mood.
The game tells a sad and... human story. I don't want to spoil it since you should experience it yourself, though it's a bit short, only around two hours. There are jumpscares in the game, so be warned - I'm not a huge fan of that - and the controls are nothing special, but easy to learn.
Christos Argirakis (Samsung S6 edge)
I enjoy playing horror games on mobile and Distraint did not disappoint me.It tells a sad story in a dark and spooky way that gets you hooked.The only thing I did not like is that the screen icons for clues sometimes do not appear when they should and you have to go back and forth at the same place in order to appear.
Pros:Creepy atmosphere and sound,good story.
Cons:A bit short(2,5 hours of gameplay),"icon fail".
Funem (Samsung S8 Plus)
The game is a side scrolling point and click like puzzle game, but the puzzles are not very complex more just a few actions to complete a task. It feels more like an interactive story than a game.
It has a strong horror atmosphere and you play the part of a man whose job it is to evict people from their properties to further his career, but suffers guilt from what he is doing. He also has what seems like hallucinations, but we don't know whether it's madness or guilt playing on his mind. It's hard to tell without completing the game and, to be honest, I don't have any interest in doing so.
The art style and the sound are great for the game, it uses a simple pixel style with filters and effects, but it uses them very effectively to portray horror and madness. The audio is minimal which can play to the horror style it's looking to achieve. I'm sure it will appeal to some people, but it felt on the rails and too simple to engage me in any way.
My only real issue with the game is that the buttons are too far apart. There are only four controls which should have been grouped together on either side of the screen. On a big screen there is too much constant stretching to move, then interact as they are currently.
It's an OK game, nothing really bad, but nothing really great, and it doesn't pull me back in to make me want to continue. It wouldn't stop me recommending it to someone who likes indie horror titles though.
I didn't play as much Distraint as I would have liked, but here are my thoughts from my truncated time with it. Graphically it reminds me slightly of Maniac Mansion and thematically more so, however it's significantly darker than that classic. The puzzles are very straightforward, made more so by the piecemeal way the world opens up as the game progresses.
My main gripe with the game is the control system. The four buttons are spaced awkwardly and the inventory system is less than intuitive. It's a shame the developer chose this path when bringing Distraint to mobile as the usual touchscreen control scheme for point and click game would be perfect here.
It's not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. The atmosphere is incredibly creepy, but I just wish the puzzles were a bit more challenging and the control system better thought out.
Oksana Ryan (iPad Pro)
I just couldn't take to this game. It's supposed to be a horror game, but apart from the creepy music there was nothing scary about it at all.
The controls are annoying as they fade when not in use, the graphics are retro, the plot is straightforward, and gameplay is basic. As you move around there are exclamation marks which tell you that there is something to examine, however there are far too many objects that you examine for no good reason. Even looking for objects you need is somewhat hit and miss.
For me the game just didn't have enough substance to keep me wanting to play on.
Dries Pretorius (iPad Air)
Martin Luther King once said "we all want the well-adjusted life in order to avoid neurosis, schizophrenic personalities. But I say to you, my friends... there are certain things in our nation and in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of good-will will be maladjusted"
The protagonist of Distraint is one such individual whose discomfort, at being the face of a faceless corporation which seizes people's livelihoods, takes him beyond maladjustment into the realm of the schizophrenic.
I find the story of distraint problematic because it fails to grasp the complexities by which human beings, who occupy the positions like that of our protagonist, create complex structures of justification in order to rationalize their actions into a narrative. When these structures crack the nuanced nightmares which emerge are truly powerful.
Distraint doesn't deliver a nuanced experience. Its oversimplification spans from its narrative through to its puzzle design, which I would describe as an on-the-rails point and click adventure. There is no way, other than a hovering exclamation point, to tell what in the world is relevant to your puzzle.
Distraint suffers from neglecting the video game platform it uses to tell its story, as well as telling a story mired by creepy horror tropes and cliches. If you are a fan of creepy, atmospheric horror games, I would recommend the fantastically twisted Fran Bow. If you've finished that and you are starved for some light entertainment, pick up Distraint for an afternoon.
Rohit Bhatia (Nexus 5x)
I like the visuals of this game as the particles flying around in hallways and bedrooms, and it kind-of reminds me of the Upside Down in Stranger Things. The overall art in it is phenomenal and the lighting is good too.
The gameplay is good, the controls work very well, but it was not that scary. It is a story-driven horror game, but you will not feel the chills as there are not really any jumpscares or anything.
The price tag is not the worth of the game as it is a simple point and click adventure and doesn't do anything innovative. If you want to play horror game don't pick it up as you will be disappointed.
Quincy Jones (iPhone 8 Plus)
This is a very dark and disturbing game that's definitely not for everyone. I'm not sure if there was a disclaimer at the start, but kids shouldn't be playing this one.
That said, it's not a bad game. I was interested in the ongoing story that was being told, so for that I'd recommend it for others. The inventory usage took a few tries, but it's not a deal breaker and I didn't have trouble with the controls
If you like dark and graphic games this will be for you
Ryan Wilson (iPhone X)
I really enjoyed Distraint. The visuals and audio are both fantastic, and I loved the lighting effects and the big chunky pixel art. The story is a very human one punctuated with moments of surrealism. I didn't find the game all that scary -more tense than anything.
The only issues I really had with it were the odd layout for the controls (left and right movement arrows on opposite sides of the screen with the action buttons in between) and the fact that some objects only become interactive after you have already walked by them once (forced backtracking).
I still had a great time with Distraint, and would recommend the game for the story alone.