From crooked cops and smoky billiard halls, to underground speakeasies and bootleg booze, A Case of Distrust has all of the pulpy elements you’d expect from a detective story set during the Prohibition era. Its minimalist aesthetic and stylized gameplay make the game stand out from its hard-boiled contemporaries.
Created by ex-Bioware developer Ben Wander and published by Serenity Forge, A Case of Distrust is a historical point-and-click detective game that takes place in 1920s San Francisco. You play as named Phyllis Cadence Malone, an ex-cop who left the force and has since become a private eye. Starved for work, you decide to investigate a threatening note given to one of your quirkier clients.
The game begins by having the player try to convince your cat that there’s no food in the house (yes, really). This task is enough to familiarize you with your notebook as well as the game’s traditional point-and-click mechanics. Inspired by the iconic, text-based graphical style of Saul Bass, A Case of Distrust plays out like a series of old-school movie title sequences.
Smooth transitions carry you between scenes, making for intuitive, seamless navigation. Travel between locations is done via brief taxi cab rides, where you can banter with the cab driver about sports, politics, and even immigration laws.
For a detective game that’s almost entirely composed of static scenes and chunks of text, A Case of Distrust is surprisingly intriguing. Though you play from the perspective of Malone, you never actually see her in the game. All other characters and settings are portrayed through thematically-colored noir silhouettes that have clickable elements strewn throughout.
As you click to examine various objects and elements of an environment, notes will get added to your notebook that can be used as evidence or conversational details later. Every detail can potentially be a clue, so don’t leave any silhouette unchecked. A seemingly minor wine bottle may end up leading to pertinent details for your investigation, allowing you to progress through the narrative and unravel the case. As you repeatedly question key players in the investigation to glean new information, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place.
For the sake of maintaining the game’s mysterious intrigue, we won’t go into any more details here. If you enjoy playing gumshoe and don’t mind a bit of reading, then keep A Case of Distrust on your rader.
A Case of Distrust will release on February 8 for PC and Mac via Steam and GameJolt. Check out the launch trailer above and be sure to add this hard-boiled detective adventure to your notebook (wishlist).