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Review: A Case of Distrust (Steam)

A Case of Distrust is a game I saw at the suggestion of a friend on the show floor or PAX West last year. Ben Wander’s A Case of Distrust really took me by surprise. It’s definitely a game I might have overlooked otherwise, but the visual style and design choices struck a chord in me and I had to dive a little deeper and check it out. It’s a 2D point and click style game that takes place in 1920s San Fransisco, with you playing as a Private Investigator Phyllis Malone.

The story of the game revolves around you, the young PI who set out on her own after working for the SFPD. Her uncle Lewis was her inspiration, but sadly is no longer with us (you’ll find out more about him in the game). The game starts with a fun “not a tutorial but it’s totally a tutorial” moment where you need to prove to a cat that you’re out of food. While you explore your apartment and click on objects and learn about them, you’ll start to fill out information in your notebook. When you go back to the cat, you’ll be given an opportunity to prove your case by showing the evidence (as you noted) that the fridge is empty. And so begins your journey into this game. 

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Mechanically the game plays like your typical point and click adventure, but the twist is that you need to compare your notes to the environment around you in an effort to make forward progress. As you explore different parts of the game you’ll start to fill out your notebook with notes and evidence, proving (or disproving) things to people as you go through the story. The game’s dialogue between characters provides subtle hints which can sometimes be frustrating because it’s easy to miss sometimes. Compiling the evidence and statements becomes more interesting because you can ask characters about anything in your notebook, and sometimes get additional backstory along with your investigation.

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The story has a really nice flow to it, and you’ll meet a great cast of characters that each have their quirks. Frankie, the local bartender, is sort of like your sidekick when you need to bounce an idea off someone. The main person in this story is Connor Green, your run of the mill crook who seeks out your help because someone is trying to kill him. While you don’t necessarily spend a ton of time interacting with this character, the story revolves heavily around him and his actions and you’ll spend a lot of time investigating some of his cohorts and friends to get to the bottom of this.

Without going too much into detail about the rest of the story, I will say this. It kept me intrigued throughout. The whole time I played the game I thought I’d figured it out, as evidence started to mount up around the characters in the story. What seemed to be obvious became a misdirect, and I had to go back to the notebook to recheck all my steps and see where I misread the evidence. It took me about 4 hours over a few nights of playing the game to finish, but it was so worthwhile an experience that I definitely think you should check it out. The only real gripe I have is that to travel between locations in-game you take taxis, which brings up a secondary set up of whether or not you want to have a conversation with the cab driver or not. At the point of going back and forth between places to try and link up evidence it started to get a little frustrating to have to revisit the taxi sequence each and every time, though you can opt to not talk to the driver which speeds up the process. A pretty solid game otherwise, and that’s hardly a gripe if you’re not making mistakes like me and having to go back and forth to test your theories on everyone.

In short: Ben Wander’s A Case of Distrust gets my recommendation for you to play it and check it out. It’s a really well done story, paired with great visuals and music. 

It’s available now on Steam, and you can also check out Ben Wander’s website for any extra information too. 

Written by Andrew(@SoAfterISaid)

Editor’s Note: The game was provided by the developer for review purposes.