distraint – the seizure and holding of property as security for payment of a debt or satisfaction of a claim; “Originally distress was a landlord’s remedy against a tenant for unpaid rents or property damage but now the landlord is given a landlord’s lien”
Admit it, unless you already know the definition of distraint as a legal term, it sounds damn creepy, doesn’t it? I absolutely had to look it up, but I didn’t do it until after I already started playing DISTRAINT – a 2D sidescrolling psychological horror game. I didn’t want to know what I was getting into, and I didn’t want to delve too far in myself before writing about it, less I give away spoilers.
What a great starting line for a game all about atmosphere and story. If you’re looking for challenging game play or fiendishly difficult puzzles, this isn’t the game you want. I am the biggest scaredy-cat when it comes to horror games (odd, since horror novels or movies don’t usually effect me in a similar way), and once I get deep into a horror game, I’m forever looking over my shoulder and listening for odd noises in my house. DISTRAINT is creepy without being truly scary. It might give you a twinge in the pit of your stomach, but this isn’t a game full of monsters and things that go bump in the night.
Rather, it’s a morality play, one in which you are the monster, sacrificing morality for money. It’s wrapped up in a distinctive art style, and as the player, you don’t ever really know what’s real and what’s in the head of the playable character. The total play time is short – only a couple of hours – and it’s probably best to play in a single sitting.
To give away much more would be a disservice to DISTRAINT. I rarely recommend a game with an anticipated cost for entertainment hour much over $1, but since this one is still cheaper than a movie ticket, I’ll forgive it its non-existent replay value. It’s not quite a visual novel, but it is an unusual video game experience, and worth checking out.