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Game Review #537: Distraint 2 (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: John B

Developer: Jesse Makkonen

Publisher: Ratalaika Games

Category: Narrative Adventure

Release Date: 7.10.2020

Price: $8.99

Watch the Trailer

Buy Distraint 2 from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Dis Story Ain’t Too Happy…

Distraint 2 for the Nintendo Switch is a narrative adventure game from a one-person developer, Finland’s own Jesse Makkonen. It picks up directly after the events of the first game – which I haven’t played - whereupon the protagonist, a man named Price, has just placed a shotgun in his mouth after failing to come to terms with his own actions. So… yeah, it’s not exactly the sunniest storyline to start with. Shortly after placing the gun in his mouth, the screen fades to black and Price wakes up in a foreboding environment where weird supernatural stuff keeps happening. He meets personifications of aspects of himself, like Reason, Greed, Agony, Comfort, and Loss as he traverses his own history and emotions in search of Hope, the only aspect that can save him from his strange predicament.

…But, Happily, It’s Good

Price’s journey features some pretty straightforward but nevertheless compelling writing that features a few pretty good twists. Given the game’s beginning I was pretty sure I knew where things were heading, but I was pleasantly surprised that the game had something else in mind. Distraint 2 tells a simple, personal story of loss, forgiveness, and, ultimately, hope that serves as a perfect example of the power of narrative-driven games. And it needs to, because it isn’t exactly a good example of the power of gameplay-driven games.

Simple Point And Click Puzzles

There really isn’t too much in terms of gameplay to keep your interest here; this is a game you need to play for the story. You can go left, right, or through some doors in some relatively small environments, meaning there really isn’t a huge exploration element to the game. The puzzles to unlock new paths and cutscenes are all pretty darn easy, too, so that doesn’t really provide anything for people looking for a challenge in that respect. Maybe I was just on fire during my playthrough, but I sped through the puzzles at a pretty good clip without even having to retry one. I actually kind of count this as a positive, since I really liked the story and the simple puzzles didn’t do anything to obstruct my ability to progress the narrative. All told I finished the game in about two hours, but every minute of it was spent fully invested in Price’s journey.

Personal Pixels

The weird, pixelated bobblehead-looking style of the characters in Distraint 2 is exactly what the game needs to complete its surreal journey through Price’s experiences. I’m a sucker for good pixel art to begin with, and it’s always a pleasure to find a unique new style to enjoy. The backgrounds are dirty, creepy, and ominous when they need to be, but can still look stunningly beautiful when Price finds that rare moment of respite. The music is frequently calm, pensive, or foreboding depending on the needs of the scene, but when the terror kicks in the soundtrack employs harsh, dissonant sounds well to heighten the tension of the proceedings. Along with the writing style, the graphics and music form a game with a meticulously well-crafted artistic vision.

A Good Journey Through a Bad Place

Distraint 2 isn’t a game that you play for a challenge; it’s a game that you play for the experience of Price’s story. The puzzles are simple, and most adventure game veterans will tear through them without much trouble. But that’s okay; Price is a protagonist with a compelling, very human story, and his journey through it is engrossing from start to finish. I don’t even know if you really need to play the first game to get this one, either; I never did, and I didn’t feel like I missed anything. If you need a game to sit back and lose yourself in, this is that game.

Score: 8/10

Buy Distraint 2 from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Jesse Makkonen

Website / Facebook / / YouTube

Follow Ratalaika Games

Website / / Facebook / YouTube / Instagram

*A game code was provided for review purposes

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