Distrust Review

Updated: Jul 17, 2019

Your chopper has crashed at the Arctic Research Station. You are stranded. As you begin to explore the ruins of the abandoned base you start to unravel the mystery of what happened here, and where has everybody gone? In Distrust, you play as a group of explorers with only one objective: Survive. You discover that things have gone terribly wrong at the Arctic Research Station. It turns out that there are strange alien creatures that have overrun the facility and supposedly killed all of the inhabitants. This game is very clearly inspired by John Carpenter's "The Thing". You control two characters of your choosing, each with their own unique talents and benefits. It's your job to make it through the facility and find a way out without starving or freezing to death. Easier said than done.

Distrust is a very interesting Nintendo Switch game. It has been out on the PC for a few years now and that's one of the most apparent traits of the game when you boot it up on the Switch; this game was meant to run on PC. The controls are kind of strange and definitely take a while to get used to. I highly recommend going through the tutorial (I did not at first). You start off choosing two different explorers from the pool that you've unlocked. Every explorer has unique abilities and skill points. Controlling the two characters in an efficient manner is really the key to the game here. Distrust is an isometric procedurally generated survival horror roguelike. Yes, I'm aware how ridiculous it sounds when I use that many buzzwords to describe a game but just stick with me.

You take your two characters and use them independently to explore the facility. There are drawers and shelves you need to rummage through for food and first aid items. Each building has a furnace and a power generator. The furnace controls the heat in the building, it heats up the structure that you're in as long as there are no open windows or doors. The power generator lights up the place, allowing your characters to move quickly throughout. The furnace is imperative because if you don't keep that up and running, your warmth meter will drop. The warmth meter is one of three that you have to keep from dropping in order to retain your health bar. The three bars are warmth, hunger, and stamina. Hunger is self-explanatory. Stamina can only be recovered by sleeping or using an item such as an adrenaline shot. Keeping these three bars up between your two characters is a never-ending balancing act that is essentially the core of the gameplay. If anyone of these three bars drains all the way, your health bar begins to decline. Once your health bar goes all the way down you go into a coma and will die if you cannot receive some type of first aid from your partner.

There are six "zones" in Distrust, each one harder than the last. The goal of each zone varies, and since the game is a procedurally generated roguelike, each time you play the game the goals for each zone change. Some examples would be to find all the switches in each zone and flip them in the required order to unlock the gate to the next zone or collect all the parts of the control panel to open the door to the next zone. As you progress through the zones more aliens will begin to appear. They are attracted to sleep so you have to be picky as to how long and when you sleep. The aliens can be dealt with in a number of ways: guns, traps, heat, lights, etc. The idea is to avoid them as much as possible given your extremely limited amount of consumable items.

I found myself constantly scratching and clawing my way into the next zone. If I decided to go fully explore an easier zone for supplies I would end up getting hurt or tired in the process. Every decision you make is an important one, you never quite know when you should use that first aid kit, or eat that hot soup. The tandem between the two characters was the hardest part for me to get used to. You have to constantly switch back and forth between them balancing each action perfectly as not to waste any time because time is stamina. You have to be sure that each character is performing some kind of action at all times, which is more difficult than it sounds considering that depending on your play style, they may be in two separate locations on the map.

The biggest flaw with this game, strangely enough, is that it's on the Nintendo Switch. What I mean by that exactly is that the controls were extremely difficult to get used to, and even after several hours they still feel a bit unwieldy at times. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that these types of games are coming to the Nintendo Switch but it was clearly made with the intention of playing on a keyboard and mouse. I also felt like the difficulty and style of game could be a hurdle for some people, although I very much enjoy the challenge. Lastly, I did run into a handful of glitches, one actually made me have to quit and start a new game, but I'm playing on a pre-release version of the game and I expect it will be fixed soon enough.

Overall I really enjoyed my time with Distrust. I enjoyed the high-stress environment and challenge of managing my resources while simultaneously balancing my characters and keeping them out of harm's way. The challenge could prove to be a bit much for some people, and the controls can be a bit cumbersome, but in the end, I felt like it was worth the trouble for a relatively unique experience on the Nintendo Switch.

Verdict: 3/5 Try It

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