Distraint is a psychological thriller about a man who is troubled because of the decisions he is forced to make. I say forced because the character feels he has no choice but to do the job that he was given and feels the pressure. He seems to be dealing with a lot of inner demons that attempt to steer him in the right direction or wake him up because his humanity is at stake.
You play an individual named Price, who works for McDade, Bruton, and Moore, a company that seizes property from people who can’t pay rent and their homes rendered liable to distraint. Recurring themes I’ve found are guilt, redemption, avarice, insanity, and humanity. It’s very clear early on that Price doesn’t LIKE what he does for a living, but he does it anyway, which in turn, conflict with his upbringing and what he hopes to achieve in life.
He’s not necessarily portrayed as the bad guy here, however. In fact, he feels more like a patsy as McDade, Bruton, and Moore reap all the rewards while he faces backlash from the people he faces. Of course, if Price does as he is told like a good little boy, he’ll be a part of the team. Price’s employers only care about the money for it is king. Will he end up morphing into McDade, Bruton, and Moore too? I hope not. Those three are frightening looking as it is…
Distriant’s main plot point is centered around an old woman by the name of Ms. Goodwin and the events after he tells her she has until the end of the month to move. She’s a kindly old widow who’s been struggling to make ends meet since her husband died. Unfortunately for her, McDade, Bruton, and Moore have come to seize her property and it’s Price’s job to do the grunt work and kick her out. As you play, you can see him struggle with this internally depicted physically as a bloody, rampaging elephant trying to crush him and the ghostly apparitions of his parents trying to get him to see the err in his ways.
The puzzles aren’t difficult but can be a little confusing. I personally did not have any issue with them except the puzzle later in the game that requires you to take magic shrooms. Otherwise, the game is pretty lenient when it comes to its puzzles. The music is unnerving as well as the sound effects. There is one sound though that grew tiresome early on and that’s the sound of nails on a chalkboard like it was on a loop. It got grating in the beginning but took a backseat to the better sounds later on in the game. There is also no option to change the volume.
The gameplay is relatively straightforward with you clicking everything in the room to either find out more information or to progress the plot. There are no context menus though. So hovering over something will not tell you what it is. I did have to backtrack and got turned around because I didn’t remember what was in what door.
Destriant’s vibe is definitely unsettling with creepy imagery and slight jump scares here and there. This is all done by a one-man dev team and that I applaud. The dev notes that the only difference with the deluxe version is that there is no lantern, which didn’t affect my gameplay. The look of the game is fantastic. The washed-out, grimy appearance and decrepidness plays into the story and it works exceptionally well. The thematic points that arise are profound and thought-provoking, bringing out notions of morality and humility as you play and watch Price descend deeper into his madness. There are points where he is faced with gore and other horrific imagery and kind of shrugs it off with little to no reaction. It was strange, but I suppose that is part of Price’s character.
Overall, I recommend Destraint as it’s a grim look into a man’s self-worth and mental struggles portrayed in a way that makes one think. The game itself is only 3-4 hours long and I was able to complete it in an afternoon. The unsettling visuals, music, and themes all play well together here and even with its short runtime, make for an unforgettable experience you won’t want to miss.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Distraint: Deluxe Edition Review
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 9/10
Replay Value - 3/10
The unsettling visuals, music, and themes all play well together here and even with its short runtime, make for an unforgettable experience you won’t want to miss.
- Creepy vibe, nice atmosphere and music.
- Washed out and subdued colors.
- Interesting character designs.
- No option for volume and the music is quite loud.
- No reaction to obvious gore and clear psychotic break.
- Short run time.
- No context menu. Would be useful for figuring out what doors are what.