Developed by Cheerdealers, Distrust is an isometric arctic survival game inspired by the setting of John Carpenter’s The Thing. You control two to three characters, exploring an arctic research facility after your helicopter crash landed while responding to a distress call from the research scientists. When your rescue team arrives, the station residents are all missing. Your only option is to survive, find the researchers, and escape.

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All good games begin with a downed helicopter.

Distrust is procedurally generated; randomizing items, unlocks, map layouts, and most importantly, the area puzzle. The object of the game is to progress through each of six zones while solving a map-wide puzzle that will allow you to gain access to the next zone.

While the point-and-click survival game is conceptually simple, it’s entirely ruthless. Each character you control has a Warmth, Stamina, and Satiety (hunger) meter. Should any of them get too low, your characters cease to function properly and perform tasks. Letting your status meters drop too low will result in freezing or starving yourself into a coma. In this state, characters can still revived, but you won’t have long to get them back on their feet before they die for good.

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Some consider Intolerable Hunger a status effect, others consider it daily life.

These game mechanics certainly aren’t new introductions to the survival game genre, but Distrust introduces a dangerous balance with the stamina/sleep meter. The longer your character goes without sleep, the more detrimental the status effects that take, well, effect. Your sleep deprived characters will begin to hallucinate, develop color blindness, fits of rage, and intolerable hunger. One status effect leaves your characters frustrated and fed up, so they’ll begin discarding your valuable resources.

Like anyone with a case of the grumps, all you need to get rid of these obnoxious effects is a good long nap. However, it wouldn’t be a survival game if it was that simple. Allowing afflicted characters to sleep draws out the alien anomalies that will follow characters around the map, only departing after players move on to the next zone. Players will have to constantly straddle the balance between insanity and external threats. Additionally, as the condition meters are constantly dropping, players are also forced to balance the speed of their playthrough with the thoroughness that they explore the map to acquire resources.

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I’m certain the same thing happens while I sleep.

Despite how challenging the game already is, it has two difficulty settings: Adventure and Trial, with Trial being the more difficult one. On the Trial difficulty, resources will be more scarce, anomalies more aggressive, and your condition meters will drop ever faster. Even at it’s easiest setting, Distrust is unforgiving, but it comes recommended that you step up the difficulty as soon as you become familiar with the game. The incentive for doing this are the character unlocks. Each character has abilities that are unique to them and will prove to be vital in your success. However, the easier difficulty only permits you to unlock two of the eleven additional characters.

 

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I put in far too many hours to have only unlocked a measly student.

 

Distrust‘s challenge level is fair, but is limiting for players who want to jump head first into the full experience. Determined players will find worthwhile rewards for their diligence, but it’s certainly not a game for the masses.

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