A Case of Distrust for the Nintendo Switch
It goes without saying that there are many narrative-driven games out on the Nintendo Switch and many of them rely on reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and trial-and-error in order to triumph. Thankfully, A Case of Distrust, from developer The Wandering Ben, focuses heavily on lateral thinking and brainpower as your main tools to succeed. It is mainly inspired by the noir mystery writers Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, and this attention to detail makes A Case of Distrust stick out from other similar titles.
A Cast of Distrust is a noir-themed mystery adventure that follows the story of Phyllis Malone, a nonchalant private eye during the roaring 20’s. After a rudimentary case turns into murder, you’ve got to interrogate, investigate, and contradict your way to the truth of the case using only your notepad and your wits to get you through. She was once a police officer herself but left after repeatedly being harassed and looked down upon to start her own detective business.
Narratively, A Case of Distrust won’t be the most emotionally driven game you’ve ever played, but it finds a niche for itself and makes it home. Great hard-boiled detective stories are ways about compelling characters and a bleak atmosphere, and this game delivers both of those in spades. Every character from Phyllis herself, to her best friend bartender Frankie, to the shady gangster Connor Greene, are all instantly compelling. You really do feel like Malone at times as you interact with people you’ve never met before, but it feels like you’ve known them your whole life.
The gameplay of A Case of Distrust most resembles contradiction or any number of Sherlock Holmes mystery titles available. However, this roughly three-hour adventure deals with much more focused story and the visual style matches the narrative for the time. Even though the art direction is minimalistic and simple, it more than makes up for it in the creativity of its design. I appreciated how there were interesting tidbits of history thrown in too, with the cab drivers you use between missions offering up their opinions on real-life events that were going on in 1924 San Francisco.
While there are visual novel nods with how the story is told, this is more akin to any mystery novel than any Japanese anime-inspired dating sim. What makes the presentation so unique is how much work has clearly gone into every aspect of the design. Text appears at certain places across the screen, a single bold color highlights every scene, animations play out across silhouettes of characters and objects; to say the game looks gorgeous is an understatement.
You’ll find yourself in a world of monochromatic backdrops, shadows, and simple stylish character models. An appropriately noir infused soundtrack accompanies the actions on-screen and it’s a lot of fun to get caught up in the classic era of mystery solving. While there aren’t any truly obtuse moments that will keep you confused and lost for an hour on end, it can be said that A Case of Distrust runs into the same problems many other mystery adventures fall into.
There are plenty of dead ends and you’ll find yourself running back and forth between your suspects constantly wondering if you’re even talking to the right person for the most recent breakthrough you’ve made in the case. Is the killer the creepy underhanded butler guy, or is the killer the surly mysterious woman? These are the questions you must continue to guess at and the answer is not always hidden in plain sight. Also, the ending is somewhat abrupt as well with all your hard work rewarded with only credits and a sly hint of an upcoming sequel.
Overall, A Case of Distrust is a smart, well-written mystery with well acted and voiced characters that you would expect from its setting. It isn’t going to break any molds created by other adventure titles, but what it sets out to accomplish is executed with loving care from the developer. Great characters, compelling art design, and genuinely engaging evidence and interrogation style gameplay make A Case of Distrust the perfect introduction for anyone who’s never given this genre a fair shake.
Reviewed by Josh Brant on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by Serenity Forge.