A Case of Distrust Review
Sometimes it takes a lone wolf to get the job done in a harsh town full of corruption. There are those that are brave enough to go on their own to seek justice while others turn away or shrug off a case. Even if some cases are a bit fishy and here we are with PC Malone starting her story with a prowler, a knife and our interest step into learning how to be a detective.
This is a narrative mystery set in 1924 San Francisco with underground speakeasies, smoke-filled billiard halls, classic barber shops, and many other places. You are tasked with finding out who exactly is messing with Connor Green who seems to be one shady character coming to Malone’s door asking for assistance in whoever is threating his life. Now, it would be in poor taste to turn down a job since you are already scraping the barrel as it is.
So, here is a question for you, what is the best weapon any good detective has? Notes and a good pen that won’t run out of ink when it is needed. However, we shall dive into how this plot becomes a weird twist.
I come from a long line of fighting on distant worlds, being an ORC battling the undead and of course a soldier of fortune. With a Case of Distrust, it is more about using your own brain power as your main weapon and dare I say I loved that challenge. There is an important formula when it comes to games and one main ingredient is the storyline that drives me to keep going. As you venture off you meet different characters to question each having a distinct color that matches their persona. You have Frankie at the Bar, Miss Green, Redstone at the Barbershop and many other characters.
It all spins a weird web around mobsters and bootlegging that leads to (spoiler alert) the death of Mr. Green. So, a person of interest case turns into a murder mystery that has Malone turning all tables and trying to ask the right questions.
In your notes you keep and with each bit of evidence, you need to piece them together to come to a conclusion in order to accuse a suspect. This is where you have to pay attention to not only what the person says, but the surrounding areas in order to use against the perps. Since this is a point and click style game you will be prompted to move the mouse across the area to see what is highlighted. It doesn’t matter how small the details are it can be used to advance further in your case.
You will be granted a list of options during interrogations as in contradict, accuse, show notes and present evidence. There will be times you will have to backtrack just in case you miss something and I can’t stress this enough about paying attention to the little details or what everyone is focused on.
This is not a highly graphical game, it definitely takes homage to novel style gaming. There is not a lot of motion going on and it has a simple palette of colors. There are smooth transitions between characters as they show their feelings with facial features, but you will never see their eyes which I feel will be too much of a giveaway. Mostly a silhouette character outside of the cat that is the only character that you have a stare down with.
The sound quality chimes in at the right time you have picked up on something as if an idea came to mind. There are pings all over the place, but I have a special favorite area in the cab rides which shows a lot of personalities. In that, I asked a few questions to the developer Ben Wander
Now since the game is based on the 20’s where you get the Noir feel. What made you want to pick this timeline?
- America in the 1920s is a fascinating period: emancipation, technology, music — everything felt like a revolution. The prohibition of alcohol also added many layers of gray — if the wet public wanted a drink, were the illegal gangsters really so bad? That era is also distant enough to feel foreign, while close enough to share many themes with today. While playing the game, you’ll notice many contemporary issues reflected in 20s society.
The simplicity of the game gives off an artistic feel which each character representing a color and I have to ask where did come from and how did you determine who would fit which Hue?
- The simplicity of design is inspired from a source outside of games: famous graphic design Saul Bass, who pioneered bold silhouettes and bright colors. And, as you’ve astutely noticed, in A Case of Distrust, every character’s color has a particular reason relating to their personality, their profession, and their relationship to Malone.
Out of all the things in the game I was most curious about the Taxi drivers, why did you give that a lot of attention?
- Conversations with taxicab drivers are a way for players to explore the world of the 1920s, without slowing the pace of the story, or cramming too many events into the plot. If players choose, they can completely ignore the drivers. But for players that want to dig into more of the history, those conversations are an excellent avenue.
I have to admit that I was expecting some action involved with some of the questionings but besides some snarky remarks, it seems like Malone had a lot more power as a P.I. without a weapon where no one truly challenged her. What made you maintain this level of respect and convince gamers to get through questioning without confrontation?
- There are a few dramatic sequences in the story, but yes, Malone never hurts anyone. It was important to me that her biggest asset — and, therefore, the player’s best weapon — were her smarts.
Being that you worked on Dragon Age, did that inspire the choice system that we experienced? If I were to go back in is there a different ending to experience?
- Before I worked on Dragon Age, I was a big fan of the series, and I’m sure BioWare games have all inspired me — and every game developer — in one way or another. Much like those tales, this plot has an arc — with a beginning, middle, and end — and the mystery only has one true culprit. The difference is in the characters — depending on what you say or do, various characters might not be so friendly. You’ll still be able to get to the ending, but characters might not generously volunteer information.
There were a few key things that I was trying to pay attention to during my investigation as in the cat, the hat, but that trench coat kept circling back. Since This will be in the review with a spoiler alert, why the trench coat out of all things to have an emotional tie with Malone?
- The trench coat is a symbol of PC’s mentor — and really, of her own desires to think of herself as a true detective.
Final question, can we please expect a sequel because I really want to continue her story, especially if Malone expands her heroism?
- I’m really glad to hear you say you’d play another! Right now I’m focussed on releasing this version, and then getting a lot of sleep!
Do not get me wrong my experience was enjoyable, but I expected a bit more risk in the questioning since I felt too safe when interrogating perps. The only time Malone was in danger was when she was in the taxicab and had an accident. That was a bit awkward to jog a memory to move the game forward. I was hoping for some foul play. That is just my own personal feelings of having a bit more danger when I play a game.
A Case of Distrust is an impressive game and even though I clocked in at 4 hours, I did enjoy myself. It is a fun indie game for fans fo mysteries and of course, the 20’s style setting gives you that Noir film that many can enjoy. I would hope for multiple endings and a bit more suspense.
If you are ready for an adventure where you have to follow the lies and weave a new truth then I highly recommend A Case of Distrust. I give it 4 paws out of 5 and I hope you enjoyed this review. The game will be released on February 8th in the steam marketplace, so definitely add it to your queue. – Beast Out –