If you’ve had many jobs, there will be one where you regret the decisions you’ve made, and the outcome that ensued. These feelings fade with time and rarely have a profound effect on your life. The “normal” person will put the mistake down to a life lesson. They will endeavour to use the knowledge to better themselves. Price the protagonist in this title has made some awful decisions in his career. He carries the burden of guilt with him, causing him to make some life-changing decisions.
Jesse Makkonen has developed Distraint 2, and Ratalaika Games have published it. The 2D psychological horror sequel continues on from where the first left off. Released in October 2015, it was well received for its unusual haunting style, and unique art. Luckily, Distraint 2 doesn’t venture too far from its roots. This dark horror will entertain you and creep you out as much as the first instalment.
Price works for a leading company named: McDade, Bruton & Morse. His desire to make partner forces him to sell his humanity. The firm specialises in evicting elderly people. They claim their houses once they cannot pay their bills. Greed gets the better of him, and he turns into a monster. No one can reason with him, and no level of begging will waiver his resolve. Price has his eyes on the prize, and nothing will change his mind, or so he thought. His latest task is to evict a sick old lady from her home. She has nothing, and no one to go to. She doesn’t blame Price for taking her home, resigned to her fate, her fight with life is a battle she loses. Wracked with guilt about his life choices, Price decides he can’t take it no more. He thinks his only way out is a bullet to the head, and this is where our story begins. Shotgun in his mouth, does he pull the trigger who knows!
This 2D puzzle game asks you to explore some deep and dark topics. The vibe of this title is creepy and leaves you feeling uneasy throughout. The puzzles you face aren’t particularly challenging. They lean towards a fetch and gather item premise, rather than in-depth puzzles. The pace at which the plot unfolds isn’t too quick or slow. This leaves you feeling neither bored nor overwhelmed with the story. I liked how the developer did this, and I felt in control of the action at all times.
On your journey you meet some weird and wonderful characters. They will make you want to: scream, laugh, and cry. They represent each element of Price’s psyche. Every one of them wants to guide you to fulfil their needs, even if it’s at the detriment to yourself and others. Your “guide” REASON is an old man with a glowing light. His wise words are a beacon in the darkness. He strives to push you to find HOPE as this will be your salvation. It’s all very deep and meaningful. I will not discuss the story any further as I don’t want to ruin it for you. Needless to say, it’s a complex tale of twists and turns. You will experience a journey of self reflection. This touches upon several hot topics. Depression and suicide are the underlying theme. It shows that hope will guide you out of the darkness and back into the light.
Presented in a unique hand-drawn style, Distraint 2 uses dark tones and black and grey shades. This gives the title an overwhelming feeling of despair. The moment the game kicked in, I felt uneasy. I regretted starting it before bed; I feared it would play on my mind, that’s how powerful the images are! Each room/area that you explore is small and claustrophobic. A blackened mist hides the edges. As you wander into the unknown, you wonder if you will make it out the other side alive. I have to applaud the developers, it’s rare that a game puts me on edge so much. It was brilliant, in a sadistic way.
The audio sticks with the theme and feel. An atmospheric sound design sends shivers down your spine. The eerie soundtrack plays in the background throughout. It gives no respite from the ominous feeling of guilt. The blackened mist that I mentioned is made more sinister as echoing sounds play as you enter. A haunting experience that emphasises the fear experienced when you enter the darkness. The audio is simple but effective, and it sticks in your mind hours after playing. You are transported to that dark place when you hear the first note.
Jesse Makonnen has created a simple and effective User Interface. This makes the player focus on the experience and forget about the controls. All tasks are shown on the screen, with easy to identify text boxes. You complete actions with one button, and select items with the d pad. It was nice that I didn’t have to think about the control method, enabling me to “enjoy” my time in the depressing world.
This genre of game has a low replay value, or at least in the traditional sense. The puzzles don’t change, nor do the item locations, or the story. Once you’ve experienced it, you will discover nothing new. Yet, Distraint 2 is as much about the atmosphere, and underlying theme, as it is the gameplay and story. I guarantee that you will want another run through to relive the graphics and audio again. You will complete the achievement list through natural progression. There is no need to grind out results, allowing you to focus on the story. You will need to invest around 4 to 5 hours to complete this, which represents good value for money.
Having played and completed the first game in 2015, I have been waiting for the sequel to be released. Disappointment can occur when you have to wait so long for an end product. I wasn’t let down! Distraint 2 is a complex story with a strong underlying theme. It’s represented by the stunning and unique hand-drawn images. And supported by a stunning audio that will haunt you long after you finish playing. A game that is a hidden gem, and should be part of your gaming library! You must help Price to seek out hope. Without it, his past will haunt him, with little change to his future.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Distraint 2 Review
Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Replay Value - 7/10
You must help Price to seek out hope. Without it, his past will haunt him, with little change to his future.
- Stunning visuals.
- Glorious audio.
- Simple U.I.
- Complex story.
- Touching underlying theme.
- It may be too dark for some.