Distortions’ great music and visual flair are not enough to compensate for a short, empty and somewhat frustrating to control experience.
Distortions is an indie adventure game created by Among Giants. In the game, you explore a dreamlike world while controlling and manipulating it with the power of music.
Your ultimate goal is to escape this world. That much is obvious. What isn’t so obvious are the things you’ll do to achieve this goal. Or why. Or what is actually going on.
One of the very first things you need to do in Distortion is to wake up a giant sleeping creature. Why? Not really sure.
I quickly found out that to wake this creature up I needed to play the right notes on a violin. Unfortunately, by the time I found the instrument, the way back to the monster has closed.
So began the quest to find another way to reach it and to finally wake it.
As you progress through the game and understand the rest of the story, things start to fall into place. Not everything though. For example – why do I even have to wake that giant creature? This part still confuses me.
To be completely honest, most of the story is confusing, and it can lead you to lose interest rather quickly. I know I did.
As the game progresses you unlock new songs to play on the violin. Each new song has different effects on the world, such as creating orbs of light or a temporary bridge. These abilities have different levels of strength that vary by how well you performed the song.
I went into Distortions expecting a “walking simulator” style of gameplay, but it honestly feels like the game hasn’t made up its mind regarding the direction it wants to take.
There are puzzles to solve using music, but there’s also “action” if you can call it that.
As I explored the world of Distortions, I quickly met the only type of enemy in the game, which is blind and can track you only through sound. On paper, this sounds like a great idea in a game based on music. It’s a shame it isn’t fleshed out in any way.
The monsters simply spot you whenever you get to close unless you play a song that creates a field of silence around you. In other words, it doesn’t react to your music, just to your presence.
It feels like a missed opportunity more than anything else. Having to worry about these monsters whenever you played a song could have added a whole new layer to both puzzle-solving and exploration. Instead, they are just another obstacle that slows you down.
Monsters aren’t the only thing that slows you down in Distortions. The controls feel sticky and unresponsive, and the animations are slow, awkward and odd. At the same time, the game world is plagued with weird collision issues that make traveling through it annoying and frustrating.
Looking through your journal is also a test of your patience. The world map and all the information about your songs are in there, so you’ll find yourself check it quite regularly. Scrolling through it is so slow, and filling page after page to get to the right one can make you want to scream.
Near the end of the game, I found a raft and had to sail through an ocean. This part took everything that annoyed me about Distortions so far and made it much, much worse.
To control the raft, you need to stand on one of the buttons that are on every side of it, each moving the raft in its indicated direction. This control scheme forces you to move between the different buttons constantly, just to keep going.
When the raft hits an obstacle, it can also start spinning on its axis, making navigation even more tedious.
The ocean around which you sail is also mostly empty besides a few islands with pieces of lore on them. Due to the size of this ocean, it can take you a few minutes of moving between buttons just to cross it. There’s really no point to this level, and it is as boring as it sounds.
Throughout the game, there are frequent camera angle changes that shift from a third person perspective to a first person one; sometimes even to a side-scrolling perspective.
Like most other aspects of Distortions, these camera changes were often unnecessary and annoying. They make controlling the character through certain parts almost unbearable. They also happen way too often to a point I started feeling nauseated from all the jumps.
The one upside is the music. The soundtrack is excellent and sets the atmosphere for various scenarios perfectly. Unfortunately, it too suffers from a lack of content and often repeats itself.
While the overall atmosphere of the game feels great, mostly due to the music, it wasn’t really enough to keep me engaged for the duration of the entire experience.
It feels like the developers’ heart was in the right place, as the game has detailed lore spread around its world, a beautiful setting and very well made music.
Sadly, Distortions just doesn’t stand on its own. It isn’t fun or particularly interesting and is generally too frustrating to play due to many different technical and design issues.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.