DISTRAINT: Deluxe Ed
Switch version tested
Review code provided
What comes around goes around
The horror genre has become very popular over the past few years, but my favourite has been the 2D 8/16 bit horror sub-genre. Games like Lone Survivor and Uncanny Valley have won me over time and time again. Now, Distraint (another entry by Ratalaika Games) aims to do the same.
You play the part of Price, your everyday Joe who happens to work for a bank firm seizing the property of people who can’t keep up with payments. While he doesn’t particularly enjoy kicking people out of their homes, he knows he has a job to do if he wants to be able to afford to fix up his run-down apartment (he also would like a decent coffee maker).
Your bosses, who are hinting that you may soon make partner in the firm, task you with evicting three different tenants. You start off looking for poor old Mrs. Goodwin, an elderly widow who has fallen on tough times since the passing of her husband. While she is understanding of the situation (to Price, at least), Price can’t help but be wrought with guilt as he tells her she has until the end of the month to vacate her home. This is where the horror aspect of the game comes in. Price starts seeing horrifying visions (a bloody elephant chasing him, his dead parents, grizzly scenes of death and dismemberment) that reflect his guilt. And it gets worse from there.
The meat of the gameplay focuses on puzzle solving to advance the story. Some puzzles are as easy as finding an item and bringing it back to an NPC. Some are a bit trickier like navigating through a labyrinth of rooms, some of which are only accessible while on a hallucinogenic drug. The controls are simple and work great for the type of game.
One thing that will always turn me off to a horror game is over-reliance on jump scares. Fortunately, Distraint does not suffer from this. Instead, it relies more on psychological horror to keep you on edge. While it may sometimes throw something sudden at you, it’s never startling and leaves more of a lasting impression on you than just shouting “BOO!” and making you jump a bit.
The atmosphere and music work together perfectly to convey the tone of this brilliant psychological horror story. While it’ll only last you about 3 hours, it’s definitely worth a playthrough. I won’t spoil anything, but suffice it to say the ending caught me off guard. If you enjoy 2D horror games, you can’t go wrong with Distraint. At only $4.99 (£5.99), it’s a great lazy afternoon game.
TBG Score: 8.5/10
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 13/09/2019
No. of Players: 1
Developer: Jesse Makkonen
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Download link: eShop