Distraint – Review – Sell your morals?

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Distraint is a 2D psychological horror adventure game for the PC, from developer Jesse Makkonen creator of “Silence of the Sleep”

You step into the shoes of an ambitious young man named Price, he works for a law firm and has his eyes set on the “big promotion” at McDade, Burton & Moore

The big bosses send young Price out to the property of Mrs. Goodwin in order to repossess it, kick her out and show them that he is capable of being a ruthless bastard and worthy of climbing that corporate ladder.

Distraint is the story of Price’s inner battle with his conscience and morals, he wants the money and the power… but can he live with the choices and decisions he will have to make it get it?

After Mrs. Goodwin’s property is seized, the big bosses give him a list with 2 more names and properties to claim for the company. It is at this point Price starts to descend into madness.

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You are tasked with repossessing Mrs. Goodwin’s property, Mr. Tailor’s log cabin and Mr. Jones party pad, Mrs. Goodwin’s is fairly straight forward and serves as the tutorial for the game, but Mr. Tailor and Jones.. They get increasingly trickier to get them to sign the paperwork. Ranging from working out ways into rooms, hunting down missing dogs and persuading a band to play a party. As the difficulty increases as does the descent into madness, visits from Price’s deceased parents, blood slowly oozing out of the walls, washing machines that spring to life full of gore, to the slightly bizarre undead elephant that chases you at various points.

Distraint looks gorgeous, the 2D art style and audio manages to capture the haunting atmosphere, there is no voice acting in the game, but this does not take away from the experience.

The game plays like a point-n-click adventure, except instead of using your mouse to click and interact with the environment and items; you use the keyboard or a control pad. Similar to Lone Survivor.

The puzzles are never overly simple, nor are they head-scratchingly difficult, although I did miss something at one point and spent far longer than I should have to try to work out one particular puzzle…

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Distraint is the product of one man, and created in only 3 months, part of me really wants to see what Jesse Makkonen could do if he had a Triple-A game budget and a full sized team behind him, Distraint impressed me that much, and I eagerly wait to see the progress being made on his other game “The Human Gallery”

If I had to find fault with Distraint, it would be the length. From start to finish it took me 2 hours of play time to finish the story. For most games, this would be a major downside for me, but priced at £3.99 on Steam, this is an enjoyable evening’s entertainment.

Score: 8/10

Pro’s:

Entertaining

Creepy atmosphere

Con’s:

Short

Limited Replayability

Halloween Special: The Most Frightening Moment in Games

village_headshot_1399630550The writing team at Frugal Gaming each take a look back of their favourite horror games and the most frightening moments within.

Is yours there?

Have they got it wrong?

What’s Yours?

Ian (MrBadDog) : Silent Hill 2. Pyramid Head First Encounter

SDCCRPT-06Walking down a narrow hallway, the all-consuming darkness broken only by the light of your torch, you approach a door. Whatever maybe waiting for you on the other side surely can’t be as depraved as what you have already witnessed, twisting the handle you slowly venture forth; how wrong you were. The sight you behold has changed everything, you will never be the same again.

 A demonic figure struggles for control over two mannequin creatures, using his hips to push them against what appears to be a kitchen surface, the sexual violence is merely suggested, but it’s there. Horrified and afraid you hide in the only place available, a small closet. Hastily closing the door behind you, you’re are compelled to watch as this savage and frightening being slowly drags a lifeless monster behind him.
As it gets ever closer to you it appears to sense your presence, dropping the now unimportant, with outstretched arms it approaches you. The light darkens as his shadow fills the narrow openings in the door. Terrified you pull out your gun and fire aimlessly into the dark. The bullets seem to do little damage, just enough to slow his movements. Then, suddenly, all is quiet. It is gone. For now.
Whilst this scene is relatively short, the violence depicted here has stayed with me ever since I first played it all those years ago. The sound of the mannequin’s screaming and squirming is genuinely haunting. The power with which Pyramid Head enforces his will is very intimidating, his apparent invincibility is terrifying and the moment he senses your presence and slowly edges closer to you hiding place is horrifying. I have played a vast array of horror games over the years and with absolute certainty this is the most emotionally crippling scene I have ever witnessed.

Adam B (Bwortang) Aliens ZX Spectrum 1987

aliens01I had a very sheltered life in the 80’s; my experience of horror was limited to knowing of a possessed angry doll called Chucky, and a bald chap with pins in his head. In the early 90’s my exposure hit +11 on the horror scale, in 1991- at the age of 11, I was further exposed to the movie ‘Alien’ at a birthday party; you can imagine how the chest bursting scene went down.

Weeks later for our next hit we saw the 1986 sequel ‘Aliens’. Two weeks past before we then acquired ‘Aliens’ on the ZX Spectrum.

We were actually there, on LV-426 on a bug hunt to locate the mute colonists, As Ripley and Co we set off with limited ammo, motion sensors and no map, the room numbers were non sequential and coloured in bright colours of blue, purple and red. The walls gunked with an unknown substance, we set off through Hadley’s Hope until a blip noise on our motion sensor, which instantly aligned our pulse rates meant an alien was in the room. The intensity of the blips increased as our sweat glands went into overdrive as we frantically scrolled left or right in the corridor trying to locate the alien before the Xeno turned and faced you, with your imagination providing visions of the infamous second mouth & the inevitable ‘Game Over’ for that character; on screen static then filled the screen. Let it be said I never survived for more than 5 minutes.

 

James Hodgson: Super Mario Bros 3.
6_psd_jpgcopyFor my scariest moment in gaming, I was going to write about Bioshock or Fallout 3. Modern masterpieces in tension and suspense. But to be honest, nothing even close to scaring me as much as Super Mario Bros 3 did for the original NES.

I remember sitting there with my dad, way past my bed time, as I watched him face off against Bowser. We were a team, me helping him through the earlier levels and watching him play as the difficulty increased and the extra lives became sparse. Days had been spent getting to this moment. The simple save function meant the console had to be left switched on, and a ‘Game-Over’ meant the game would reset to the start of world 8, a minefield of tricky and horrible levels.

There were no guides or FAQs, no Youtube tutorials. Just me and my dad, facing off against the king of the Koopa clan. I can remember how tense I felt even to this day. Nothing is as scary as the pressure of an end boss, and it still remains as the greatest, most terrifying final stage I’ve ever faced. Even if I wasn’t allowed near the controller.

 

James Holland: Resident Evil 3: The Nemesis.

art_7I could have picked so many moments from the original Resident Evil games on the Playstation, but the scariest part of any of the games had to be the Nemesis from Resident Evil 3. This guy was unstoppable and a constant menace throughout the game. The other games always felt as though there were safe areas where you could take a breather and think about your next move, but the introduction of the Nemesis changed all of that, he would smash through walls and could even follow you through doors; something that just didn’t happen in the games before.

Encounters with the Nemesis gave you two options and you had just seconds to choose from, normally it would be flight or fight with flight being the best option. Even when you put the beast down, it would then get back up and chase after you with its signature roar. The Nemesis also carried a rocket launcher, so he could attack you from range as well as from up close. He pursued you through the whole game, you never felt safe and he was an underlining presence that ensured you would always need plenty of health and ammo, just in case you ran into him. Even with so many games in the Resident Evil series, I will never forget the terrifying encounters I had with the Nemesis, most of them were precluded with the monster slurring the word Stars……

Chris Purdy: Condemned: Criminal Origins

xenon001-image14For a game that delivers an absolute master class in how to deliver a truly tense atmosphere throughout it’s entire story, picking a scariest moment has been a difficult thing. In the first ten minutes alone you investigate a sickening murder scene, watch your colleagues get shot and experience getting thrown head first out of a window. The real stand out moment for me came in the first chapter while tasked with exploring an abandoned building and trying to turn the power back on. It’s not what I saw, or experienced first hand, but rather what I heard that made the hairs on the back of my neck prickle back in 2005.

Floorboards creaking, the sounds of thumping footsteps from above and objects being knocked over or smashed to pieces all let you know that you are not alone. The ambient sounds that follow, chase and harass you throughout the game add more to the feeling of terror than any cheap jump-scare or fashionably bloody cut-scene ever could.  The sounds stay with you long after playing the game, and even now nine years later the memories still set me on edge.

Karlos Morale: Sanitarium – PC

sanitarium-banner149936There was a rhythmic thudding, as though part of some great machine; bang, bang, bang. Mostly mechanical, unnatural and yet seemingly with a wet sounding, organic component. Relentless and perfectly timed. I looked about me for the source of the sound and was appalled to see a man banging his head against a brick wall – with every stroke, blood spattered out from the centre of the blow. Again and again he struck and I stood still – mesmerised.

I try to speak with the fellow – to makes sense of what I’m seeing – but there is nothing. I wear pyjamas like a patient in a hospital and my head is bandaged; evidently I am not the only one who is sick.

After meeting some other people and solving a puzzle or two I am enveloped by the wings of an angel. My adventure begins.

 

Rachel Ellis: Alien Isolation – The Xenomorph.

AI_LAUNCH_SCREEN008_1411636911Alien Isolation is a fearful experience; the atmosphere within Sevastopol is intense from the moment of arrival.  Upon hearing the slightest noise of something scuttling in the vicinity you’re given the impression that your hunter can appear at any given moment. By the time you’re pitted face to face with the colossal creature, you’re already in the position to spend the foreseeable future shaking in a corner praying he doesn’t turn your way. The Xenomorph stalks you throughout the desolate space station, if you wander into his line of vision; you’re as good as dead. More often than not you will be hiding under desks or in containers in a hope that it’ll save you, but that’s not always the case. The Xenomorph is a formidable enemy whose unpredictability makes him utterly terrifying.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter PC Review

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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter PC Review

Publisher: The Astronauts
Developer: The Astronauts
Platform Reviewed: PC
Release date: 25/09/2014

Ethan Carter is a very special young boy, he has ability to see what others cannot; It is this gift which has put him in danger. Lost, frightened and alone, he is in desperate need of help. Playing as Paul Pospero, an occult minded detective, you receive a letter from Ethan, his cries for assistance are deafening, you must help this young man and save him from whatever perils that threaten him. Without hesitation you make your way to Red Creek Valley.

The uneven floor crunches underfoot as you take the first steps along an abandoned rail road. The darkness of the tunnel, broken only by the light in the distance. Emerging into the warm glow of the sun, your eyes adjust quickly to the light. A thin layer of mist gently covers the surrounding forest; branches move gracefully as they are kissed by the wind. Moss covered rocks lie in peaceful slumber. The overgrown grass dances to the sound of its own tune.

Crossing a derelict and badly damaged wooden bridge you spot a cold, rusted train car, it has been left to time to do with it as it pleases. It’s only as you draw closer that you notice the blood stains. Peering further down you realise that something foreign is sitting on the tracks. With great unease you approach, the horror of what you witness sends a shuddering chill coursing through you. It is here that we leave your tale, the rest of this mystery is for you to solve.

TVoEC_ScreenShot_01The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a mesmerising mix of mystery and the supernatural. Rarely has a detective game been able to produce such an acute sense of unease. The world you have been tasked to explore feels real and yet so isolated. The minimalistic approach to gameplay only deepens the sense of atmosphere and intrigue. There is no inventory screen, no complicated mechanics, no map or compass, it’s just you and what you can see. You’re left all alone, free to explore Red Creek Valley in your desperate hunt for the young boy who absolutely needs your help.

Progression through the story is achieved by solving various puzzles or crime scenes. Examining a clue will bring Pospero’s thoughts on screen, increasing the level of immersion as you feel at one with his thoughts. Decipher them correctly and you will begin to piece together the awful truth, find enough clues and Pospero will be able to use his supernatural abilities to re-imagine the events leading up to the crime. Place them together in the correct chronological order and whole scene plays out to its devastating conclusion, shedding more light on the events as you continue your search for Ethan.

Devoid of all signs of life, Red Creek Valley is as haunting as it is beautiful. It is easy to become distracted by stunning detail and wonderfully rich environments the team at The Astronauts have managed to create. Whilst all signs of civilisation are slowly decaying, the true force of nature is in full effect as it reclaims the land for itself. The contrast between new an old is a wonderful setting for such a macabre tale.

TVoEC_ScreenShot_02The soundtrack only deepens the feelings of gentle discomfort. It is so wonderfully composed, subtle changes in pace and tone capture the emotions of each scene perfectly. From soft and soothing to chilling and suspenseful, the arrangement is always perfectly timed and perfectly implemented. It is a master class in how music can be used to provoke emotion. Couple this with gruff soliloquy of Pospero, and the atmosphere this manages to create is so intense it seems tangible.

The ability to freely explore makes for an incredible experience, yet it can be easy to become lost and without focus, especially if you miss a vital clue. The lack of direction can, at times, be frustrating. Having to retrace your steps in search of something significant will irritate some. A notebook which details your findings would have been of great benefit and would eliminate some of the senseless backtracking.

That being said, this is only a minor issue in what is a truly remarkable adventure. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a supreme example of interactive storytelling. The beautiful surroundings, the rich and detailed visuals, the complex story, the exceptional soundtrack all combine into an experience that will live long in the memory.  Red Creek Valley is home to something very special indeed.

SCORE: 9/10

Reviewer – Ian @Mrbaddog28