Review: 'Distortions' (PC)

This girl is the protagonist of the indie computer game 'Distortions'. This girl is the protagonist of the indie computer game 'Distortions'. AMONG GIANTS

Some of my favorite parts of games is what you make of them. Big games like GTA or Elder Scrolls – you could make your own storyline and play it – there's enough to coast on within the game to make it happen. In Distortions, it has a lot to make this happen, but in almost every instance, something goes wrong with it.

You are 'the Girl' (really – you don't get a name). You are stuck in some weird world by your own bad memories and pain – and the only way out is through the power of music. Overtime, things become more clearer, with mysteries gradually being filled in, with the monster chasing you perhaps not being a monster at all. It's both cleverly subtle and hamfisted unsubtle. I've always liked stories that fill in slowly over time, and it does so on a good pace. It's definitely different from most games, and while it can be predictable at times, the story turns out to be pretty good.

The controls are about average for a Steam game. This is a large, large world, with a camera that spins everywhere, with lots of options. But it never once got confusing, despite the number of things you had to do. There's a few things you only use a few times during the game, so it doesn't take long to get important controls down pat.

Gameplay is....yeah. So, you use this violin you have to play for abilities which only seem to be for some certain things. The rest is platforming. There's not much in the way of fighting. So those violin spells you learn to make electric explodey balls and everything – it's only to clear areas with the power of Guitar Hero-esque style button timing. The violin parts felt felt so forced in as if they were a gimmick, and without them, it would have been more like a slightly interactive movie.

The graphics are pretty gorgeous. There's oceans, abandoned buildings, plains, mountains, caves, stony passages, etc. - and they all look great. The only bad parts is when that magic comes into play – it looks so fake compared to everything else. Even journal entries look properly homemade. But anytime those magic part come up, and you'll know where they are, things get all Matrix-y and kind of ruin it. I get what they were going for, but it just doesn't work. Everything else though is beautiful and detailed. You'll have a lot of fun walking around.

Music is really weird in this. At times it's this beautiful strumming or this nice natural ambiance that fits totally with the windswept island setting. But the transitions, like between scenes, are not smooth at all. You hear this weird static or sudden change in music without warning. And not in a planned way. It literally cuts out from one to another. It's great music – even the violin she plays is great – but there was no editing. Sound is fine though – it's gravelly walking, strong winds, etc. That's fine – I'd say it's above par. But it also has that 'suddenly cutting out problem'. Walking through areas, ambient sounds suddenly cut off and on in places. Like I would be walking in a passage way filled with rocky sounds, and it suddenly stops and starts. It would be like if a radio station cut 10 seconds randomly into each song with dead air. I loved it what they had going, but those awkward cuts ruined it.

Besides that awful music/sound problem, there were a few glitches I noticed. Nothing game crashing, but they could still affect you. I experienced walking on nothing during some broken bridge scenes, destroying things despite those things (like rocks) not even being closeby and climbing air like I would be climbing a rock. Yes, the frame rate is fine, but not everything is on point.

Distortions has some things going for it – if it was just the graphics and music, I could spend hours exploring and making my own story in my head to play there. But there's so much that hurts the game here, at least in my view. I usually don't like surreal games, but I was having fun with this at times between these errors. I'd be walking and climbing these rocky ledges along the coast, and I was lost in it – then a off-animation or music skip would snap me back. This game had a lot going for it. I wish it could have been more.

Final Score: 6.5 out of 10

A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.

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