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Game review: Distrust – a dull take on John Carpenter’s film The Thing without the terror

Although the horror film seems ideal for a video game, Distrust fails to tick the boxes, but it should please fans of resource management and survival games

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 September, 2017, 8:02pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 September, 2017, 8:01pm

Distrust

Cheerdealers

2.5/ 5 stars

As the years pass and cheap film knock-offs continue to be churned out, it’s become obvious that director John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of a kind: a classic film that is part horror, part sci-fi thriller.

And it’s the combined elements of The Thing that make it a tour de force – its isolated Arctic outpost setting, an alien able to morph at will, a cast of paranoid characters and a bleakly nihilistic ending – and make it ideal for an interactive virtual experience.

So it’s no surprise that the video game world has repeatedly tried to recreate it, everything from official adaptations to blatant rip-offs. Distrust (available for PC) is the latest of the latter group, as the developers have focused their marketing around the 1982 film.

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Players start by selecting one of two clichéd characters. The game involves balancing survival and resource management, and while there is some kind of alien in the mix, the overall goal is just to move from room to room while keeping check of your various attributes. These games are commonly known as “plate-spinners”, and in Distrust, players must maintain their stamina, food, warmth and other attributes while they navigate a hostile world.

Once gameplay starts, the Diablo-like top-down perspective works well, considering the many aspects attributes to be managed.

Unfortunately, many of the game’s challenges are solved by moving to another room, and the decisions often feel arbitrary and out of the player’s control.

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And the aliens? They’re spectral beings summoned while the player sleeps and can be overcome by turning on a torch or opening a window.

Distrust’s name and fear-based marketing are completely misleading, and it is far from The Thing in video game form. However, as far as plate-spinning games go, it does a serviceable job. The developers should have created a unique theme for it, but as it is, it’s only likely to please diehard fans of survival games.