I Feel Lied To
Okay, Cheerdealers, you pulled a fast one on me. You baited a hooked, and I took it and was dragged into the murky depths of your deception. You've effectively made me be distrusting of Distrust in the first twenty minutes of the game. Before anyone panics, I'm not going on about the game itself but rather what it's pitched as. 'Inspired by John Carpenter's "The Thing"' is what is clearly touted on the Steam Page beneath the title. The description of the game goes on to describe something very akin to The Thing even with some artwork that shows what looks like a paranoid man turning a gun on his comrades, reminiscent of Kurt Russell with his flamethrower on the verge of insanity having his fellow researchers line up one by one to test their blood samples against intense heat. DO. NOT. BE. FOOLED.
What the developers mean by "inspired by" in this case means it's a survival against the arctic elements where sleep deprevation and paranoia come into play. Your enemies are not doppleganger alien organisms disguised as your friends. My disappointment with the game laid bare to you, the reader, I can now go on to say that once I wiped the tear from my eye of having been denied what could've been the ultimate horror experience... Distrust honestly isn't all that bad!
After losing contact with a research outpost in the middle of nowhere, a search and rescue team is deployed in the hopes of preventing the people on site from becoming victims to either the harsh cold, starvation or something... worse. "Worse" soon confronts the rescue team directly as their chopper goes down just on the outskirts of the base, leaving only two survivors and a lingering question. What was the bright light that formed just before the crash?
There are three threats in Distrust: Light-based anomalies that have a chance to appear when your characters sleep, psychological issues that occur from a prolonged lack of sleep if you try to avoid it, and the elements of this snowbound hell. We'll get to the latter, but for now I want to focus on the former.
Distrust is nowhere near a horror title, though it desperately wants to be. It can be stressful, it can be grim, but at no point did I feel fear. Gameplay is carried out in an isometric view with a point and click movement and interaction style, and through this you're balancing your time progressing through each zone and trying to keep your characters not only awake as long as possible, but from succumbing to varying forms of madness from sleep depravation.
If you absolutely need to sleep, you need to do so with caution. Never send your survivors to sleep at the same time for instance. The more people asleep, and the longer they are sleeping, the higher the chance of anomalies appearing.
Anomalies in terms of this game, are orbs of light that first appear as innocuous bright lights in the vicinity of those who are sleeping. They bring a pleasant glow to the room, and a sense of peace. A sense that is short lived as soonafter, there will be dark, large orbs encircling your building. More often than not, if you have the building locked down with the power on and a fire burning and kept at least one person awake, the anomalies will usually go away on their own. It is possible to drive them away personally as well, but it's often time consuming and better to just wait them out if possible. They really are a bland enemy for an otherwise fun blend of gameplay mechanics.
Don't Go To Sleep
More intense than the enemies are the survival elements. You have your hunger, warmth, and state of tiredness. The first two are self explanatory; keep your hunger gauge filled and keep as warm as possible to avoid starving or freezing to death. The last, your state of tiredness or satiety. This is something I think needs to be explored further in games across different genres that have survival aspects to them. Rather than your normal bouts of fatigue where you're simply slower or less efficient at things, your characters will steadily start to lose their minds the longer they go without sleep. This can range from hallucinating seeing their own friends as monsters, to decimating the player's best laid plans by trashing things from their inventories.
As the game goes on, and depending how generous the game was with the procedural generation, you may have an easier or harder time than others. But these mechanics that touch on the effects of sleep deprivation are a pretty awesome feature to see; make sure you hoard those coffee beans for that little extra boost!
Not As Advertised
The survival aspect of the game saved my opinion on it. It was a very bitter beginning and I had to get passed a bit of frustration with the comparison to The Thing despite being nothing remotely inspired by it other than the location. As a survival game, Distrust is enjoyable and challenging even when I feel the enemies aren't all that exciting.
Survival elements are well done, introduction of Satiety and sleep-deprived madness is very interesting.
The only thing similar to The Thing is location which is problematic considering it is sold as a game inspired by John Carpenter's work, enemies are bland.