It can be difficult to find time to finish a video game, especially if you only have a few hours a week to play. In our bi-weekly column Short Play, we suggest videogames that can be started and finished in a weekend.
It does not take much to evoke the meaning of a place. The right sound or the right aspect can be transporters, placing you in a place where you may never have been before, and yet you understand intuitively. A Case of Mistrust does not appeal to the cultural touchstones of your time period, but works by evoking a nostalgic style of the 50s that was used to invoke the & # 39; 20.
A case of mistrust takes place in San Francisco in 1925, and puts him in the shoes of the newly created private detective, former SFPD official Phyllis Malone. She left the force after the sudden death of her uncle, another SFPD detective, and suddenly finds herself hired by Mr. Green, a smuggler and former informant of that uncle. Green received a threatening letter under his door, with the emblem of a black hand, and wants Malone to discover who is behind her.
From there, the game is played a bit like a Phoenix Wright game: Ace Attorney with Malone interviewing different potential customers, collecting statements and looking for other possible tests. But unlike the Ace Attorney games, where all this evidence is used in a trial, here Malone can present it to the people he is interviewing to get his opinion or to contradict a potentially false statement they have made. Allow yourself to delve into the mystery, where each new statement or evidence that you gather begins to become the next one.
This narrative style fits the cinematic aesthetic of the detective noir of the fifties of the game. The minimalist art style puts a lot of emphasis on the text, which makes sense since that's where you'll look most of the time. You can also see the expressions of the characters, and each place seems to be made of pieces of paper with different shades of color, which gives a sense of depth to the flattened environment.
Each character appears cut in one piece and shown in a close-up portrait; They still look human, except for the fact that they do not have eyes. This draws attention to the mouth and eyebrows, which creates exaggerated expressions for the characters to feel very animated. This also makes each character feel different, since the abstraction of their designs shows their differences while also conveying a lot about their personalities and mood.
It is when A case of distrust is based on that minimalism that is the best. This is especially true in the first half of the game when you try to find out who sent the letter to Mr. Green. In essence, you have three clues that you can access in any order and, as you get new information from one, you can use it to delve into another advantage. As the pieces of research begin to fit together, everything becomes a sudden climax that completely changes your research.
The game slows down in the second half with more potential customers to investigate, and even more people to compare their tests with the hope of advancing the investigation. It never feels like the research is moving at a good pace where you start to see how the clues come together, like in the first half, but fortunately it also wraps things up before it starts to get too long.
This is one of the advantages of a shorter game. Sometimes the elements of the game or other design choices are only pleasing for a time before they become monotonous. A case of mistrust begins to creep a bit at the end, but it does not last long enough to detract from the rest of the game. It is enough to give an emotional weight at the end, at the same time it leaves me wanting to see more.
A case of mistrust was created by The Wandering Ben. You can get it in Itch.io and Steam for $ 14.99 and play it on Windows and Mac OS. It takes approximately 3 hours to complete.