Viveport Review: A Story of Distress
This rogue-lite VR experience feels nice, but ultimately falls short with subpar audio design, voice acting, and gameplay.
By Joshua Hawkins, Greenlit Content
I wanted to love A Story of Distress. As a huge fan of rogue-lites, A Story of Distress felt like the perfect combination of rogue-lite meets dungeon crawler. However, the game’s cutscenes and voice acting leave a lot to be desired, and the overall gameplay loop and combat is less than perfect.
Gameplay in A Story of Distress involves sneaking around town to try to find out who killed your brother. It’s a noble cause, I suppose, and overall the story wasn’t a huge issue that I had. However, the cutscenes leading up to the gameplay and the game’s overall voice-over quality are features worth taking into account. The voice acting isn’t that great, but it’s something that can typically be overlooked if the gameplay itself is good enough.
Unfortunately, A Story of Distress doesn’t really offer gameplay that lives up to the standards needed to be so forgiving. After going through all the cutscenes—you can skip a good bit of them if you want to, thankfully—you’re let loose upon the town and tasked with finding the men that killed your brother. It’s a perfectly fine MacGuffin to get things moving, but the gameplay loop as you move through the town—hiding your dagger, pulling it out, murdering someone, and then repeating—isn’t really that endearing, and it grows boring rather quickly.
Now, I understand that the nature of rogue-lites is to create an experience that builds off doing the same things over and over again. However, throughout my time with A Story of Distress, I never really got the same feeling of progression that I ever got with any rogue-lites I’ve played in the past. Combat in the game was another sore point, as it came down to simply walking up behind enemies and stabbing them in the back. Sometimes they’d die immediately, other times they’d somehow realize you were behind them and turn around, leading to a constant series of mindless jabs to take them down. There’s no skill or challenge involved here, which made things feel even less entertaining.
On top of the combat issues, the AI of the villagers is very hit and miss. Sometimes they’ll run from you when you commit a murder, but oftentimes they just stand there, oblivious to the fact that you just killed someone less than a foot away from them. This breaks the immersion of the experience altogether, making it hard to justify diving deeper into the game.
Like I said before, I really wanted to like A Story of Distress. The idea behind the game seems good on paper, but in practice, it’s very lacking compared to other titles that offer the same kind of experience. The graphics aren’t the worst, and the details throughout the town are nice, but wonky combat, quirky AI issues, and a lack of any real challenge bring the story grinding to a halt before it even really gets off the ground. If you can look past that, though, there’s a little bit of a gem hidden beneath the rough.