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A Case of Distrust – detective noir puzzler

Slick mystery game

Price: $5/£5
Version: 1.0.1
Size: 503.7 MB
Developer: Serenity Forge
Platform: iPhone/iPad

A Case of Distrust

San Francisco. 1924. Private eye Miss Malone is interrupted by the shady Connor Green who has received a threatening letter. Once Malone accepts the case it’s up to you as the player to explore the underground in prohibition-era California to take statements, consider evidence, and break through the lies and distrust to find the truth.

The game starts you off easy – with a conversation with a cat

A Case of Distrust is a decent puzzle game. It’s stylish in its 2D rendering, adding to the narrative’s mystery through shadowy illustrations. It’s all backed by a moody, smokey soundtrack the supports the game’s moderate pace.

It makes a change from other games designed for quick-fire blasts of gameplay. Distrust is a game worth sitting down on the couch for. In fact, if you played it any other way, you may get a little impatient. As Malone talks to various suspects and peripheral characters, the game slows down as you’re taught to trust no one and consider all angles. That means you may end up in an underground bar talking to the bartender for a good long while before the only real outcome is to leave and come back later.

Travel between various locations to gather statements and evidence to help your case

Others will appreciate this approach. This is a premium game at $5, which in itself is a rarity between freemium games, Apple Arcade titles and subscription models. As a self-contained tale, A Case of Distrust stands out.

Refer to your notes and use them to probe suspects

While the title is full of wit and style in its writing, it does suffer a little as the gameplay inevitably takes a back seat to the writer’s vision. While there’s plenty of options for interaction and moving between locations there definitely feels like there’s a beginning, a middle and an end that you have to follow fairly restrictively. However, the game pretends this isn’t the case with a whole host of lengthy sidebars that serve mostly to take up time before leading you back to the main narrative.

Take a dive into the underground bar to consult with Frankie

But the writing is incredibly clever, meaning most of the distractions are pretty welcome. Starting with the initial switcheroo of making the lead detective a woman – a rarity in noir stories – it allows the text to explore more than the obvious writing cliches in the genre, allowing the character to embody the tone of the piece by taking no crap from the male-led underworld.

The story is wordy but allows you to make decisions and learn more as you progress

Make no mistake, A Case of Distrust is a wonderful piece of work. Writing aside, the visual design is best in class, staying largely two-tone across scenes, but switching the primary colors between locations which keeps it both simple but remarkably fresh along the way. The character of Miss Malone is well-written and other characters such as the sometimes helpful, sometimes not-so-helpful bartender Frankie round out an intriguing cast. If you consider yourself an amateur sleuth, give this one a go – but don’t expect to blast right through it.