Hello, everyone. This is Michael Cox, also known as “Arylos”, and today we’re going to look at the new game by Cheerdealers and published by Alawar Premium, Distrust.
Now, a couple disclaimers before we continue. Number 1, I myself am a game developer and I tend to view a game as a developer. So if I go off on a tangent or my viewpoint doesn’t make sense, just know I’m viewing it as a guy who knows how this game was made and makes my opinion as someone that person. I will try to combine my viewpoints as a developer and as a gamer to find a perfect balance and a well-rounded review.
Also, I am by no means a professional roguelike player. Yes, I’ve borderline mastered Don’t Starve, however it came out in 2013 and I’ve had all of those years to perfect my gameplay of the game and I also haven’t played it in about a year or so. I’ll explain this more in a bit.
And finally, I have played the game solidly for 2 hours since starting this and have done one attempt. (and on trial difficulty) The reason for this is (other than I have other work to do) that is how most new roguelike players play; they buy and then play and get as far as they can and upon failing and losing, depending on how they feel about their deaths, they stop and come back to it with a better head or research. Later down the line, I will play more thoroughly and publish a follow-up review of actually completing the game in its entirety.
So, let’s jump right into it, shall we?
Oh, one last thing, I know what engine Distrust is made in as I’ve used it hundreds of times and am currently using it. For the sake of the developer, I won’t say what engine it’s made with, but I will say that their use of scenes is on point. They will know what that means.
Now, the only downsides I have so far is that the game seems to use Steam to track which monitor is the “main” monitor. I have three monitors and Steam is left on my left monitor so the game opened on the left one instead of my middle gaming monitor. This was annoying to fix, but once fixed, worked. I just have to have Steam on my middle monitor when opening, or in-game, turn off full screen and turn it back on. Just a minor issue that doesn’t really get in the way of anything. For Honor has it worse and to this day, I don’t think it’s been fixed since uplay doesn’t seem to be the tracker and there’s no in-game setting to fix it. Just press Win + Left Arrow and it will have to rescale my monitors to work. So, Distrust gets a point there.
The only other issue so far is that the tutorial doesn’t make clear as to how to restore stamina (I went around forever trying to figure it out before finding out you had to sleep on a bed or sofa) as well as how to restore tools. Now, disclaimer here is that it might have said it in a textbox in the tutorial that I just missed and I am very stupid so I probably missed it.
So, with the opening sequence, it paves the way for an interesting story and I like the style that you don’t find the survivors (at least from what I’ve played); only the notes they’ve left behind. It adds a feeling of mystery that I enjoy. Relating back to the inspiration of the game, this approach is very nice as it makes the player want to know what’s going on, but in doing so, could put them in danger. I also really like how the game urged you to figure out the anomalies weakness, especially when you hide from them for so long. So you think “well, I have my flashlight and it’s almost always dark, and I have to keep these generators on. Why? Hmm, lemme point my flashlight at it.” Sure enough, they’re weak to light. This opens up a whole new avenue of play as you don’t have to fight them if you don’t have to, but you don’t have to hide from them. That is a really cool way of doing it and I applaud the developers for not copying known mechanics but putting their own spin on it. It also enables the “play your way”.
The graphics also add this really cool effect. The graphics are beautiful and fitting and the flashlight isn’t a pin-hole light like in the old Slender games. It’s dark enough to where you feel unsettled about the whole scene, but it’s not too dark that your flashlight is pointless. If anything, the light accents more detail in the environment and actually add to the environment in its own little way. It’s not required, but nice to have.
I also like how you can work your survivors to be independent of each other, but also rely on each other. Not quite like Tale of Two Brothers, but you can play that way if you want. An example is how I had Irma cook food that I found while James clears the building and search for more food and resources. Granted, I messed up and forgot which character I had selected, but with the task system, this is a good way to prevent standing around and Irma could have had both of their meals cooked and they would eat them at the same time. Granted, you don’t have to play that way, but it’s helpful and adds a level of custom play otherwise missing.
The only downside to this I have is when completing tasks. One thing I almost wish for is for the other survivor to help the other. Then again, the only real time this is nice to have is when your shovel broke and you have to clear snow or debris by hand. Since it takes so long to do, why can’t the other survivor help? This is more a personal thing and sure I should’ve paid more attention to my gear, but that’s just me.
The random chance mechanic is also really cool to have. It makes you choose between safety and exploration and decide what are you willing to risk. And personally, I love scripted events with random chance branches seeded throughout. It’s a really cool presentation and I love seeing more games do this by complete random chance.
Now, for how I died. Basically, I’ve been too rusty with roguelike games and I always forget not to squander precious resources because you never know when you’ll be able to find more. And that was surely the case. I wasted wood by using it on every furnace I found without care of quantity and eventually, that was my undoing as no more furnaces were lit and I was freezing to death. I’ve long accepted my death, although me coming this far was actually surprising. It was the time where I forgot about the anomalies that siphoned power from the generators and I saw it barreling into the building that I accepted my fate.
Overall, tons of fun. The game runs very well, surprisingly, and flows nicely together. It’s less of “random world, craft your stuff, survive” and more story is driven where you have to keep moving, which I really like. It gives me a purpose. Right now, I want to get back to playing it just to see what happens which is something you don’t get from some other roguelike games; very rarely do they have this call that keeps you coming back. And Distrust, I don’t think, is really too challenging and allows you to get to the core of the story. Just don’t be like me and squander resources. I can’t knock off points for the monitor issue nor the tutorial as they are likely to edge cases and I probably misread the tutorial. The controls feel nice and the camera movement isn’t nauseating. Everything feels smooth and crisp even down to the GUI. The random conditions you get from not sleeping is also really cool and I’d like to see more as I continue the game. The characters also aren’t too different and can actually help or hinder each other. They don’t have a list of random traits that you have to do the math to balance. It reminds me of Don’t Starve again; you look at singular traits and pick the ones that suit your style. James’ resistance to cold could be helpful if a furnace runs out and Irma not eating a lot is helpful to conserve food. It also allows me to balance them. So when I got a cool new jacket that was better than the light jacket they had, I was able to give it to Irma who needed it more than James because James could handle himself very well in the cold. Little things like that make decision making easier. And the survival mechanics are somewhat realistic. You’re not babysitting your characters too much, but you’re also not left on your own. You’re guided and you have a goal and I think that’s nice. (and I appreciate not dividing thirst and hunger and just doing satiety. So much better). I also appreciate the staying true to roguelike rules, all the way down to losing you’re save if you fail. (yes, I looked to make sure there was no archive save or something like that left) I like that the game doesn’t have mercy if you fail, but does its best to lead you away from failure.
Finally, I like the design. The levels aren’t completely random, but some events, choices, and effects are. It makes it predictable enough to practice, but change things up when you’re least expecting. Again, this scripted randomness is perfect and I think Distrust will be one of my prime examples of how randomness in a game should be done. This might also be asking a lot, but this game with some co-op would be great. It will be hard to implement, but it would bring back memories of Project Zomboid and Don’t Starve Together which those games work beautifully in co-op. While hard to truly implement, I think the game can really benefit if the developers want to look into more replay ability later down the line. Maybe as a future patch? Who knows.
Overall, I’d give it an 8/10, with adding co-op down the line bringing it up to a potential 9/10. I haven’t seen really any glaring issues with the game so far that would make it unplayable. Sure, the anomalies do swarm real quickly. One little thing to try is to alternate sleeping patterns so that not so many of them spawn all at once. (that’s also judging that more spawn with the more people are asleep or whenever someone is asleep) But it’s easy to play around if you have the good ground or are a risk taker. The story seems really intriguing so far and the game mechanics flow so nicely together. Plus, the game gives plenty of time between zones to give you a minute to swallow what you’ve learned instead of tossing new mechanics at you. Sure, something new gets introduced, but at a manageable pace. The monitor issue can be ignored for now. The biggest problem is replay ability. What if I completed the game? What brings me back? Not all that much other than unlocking characters. This is where co-op would be nice if implemented. Other than that, I really don’t have much bad to say about the game and I would love to keep playing it (in fact, I might later) and I would highly recommend this game to anyone who loves a good classic survival experience.
TL;DR – Just buy the game and see what happens. Loving it so far and I’m sure I will still love it. It’s just an easy rogue game to pick up and have fun so do yourself a favor and enjoy the fun that the game offers; you won’t regret it.