Comfortable in its role as a budget saving bottle show, this episode doesn't even try to disguise its nature, tipping its hand early before playing out just as you'd expect. It's a "nightmare story" which, like an episode of the 90s TV show "Herman's Head", includes the DS9's regulars (and Garak) inside Bashir's head as parts of his personality. (The same idea appears again in just a few episodes: "Facets," however, finds a more creative way to do it).
Being more of a concept than a story, "Distant Voices" is dependent on Siddig El Fadil (Bashir) and director Alexander Singer to carry it. Both are nearly up to the task, with Fadil turning in an impressive performance as an aging man (doing a heck of a lot better job than Clayton Rohner reverse role in TNG's first season episode "Too Short a Season"), and Singer keeping things moving swiftly enough to keep the episode from becoming dull.
Interestingly, with the tease of Garak's holosuite program (which is never actually seen) the episode almost backs into a "Total Recall" like story, where we're not certain where Bashir's reality ends and the fictional story picks up. Had the writer pursued this idea, "Distant Voices" might have made for one of the more memorable episodes of the season; however, the writers set the idea of the holosuite program aside, never connecting to the main story, leaving us with a simple episode instead.
(Ironically, just a couple episodes after DS9's Emmy allegory in "Prophet Motive," this episode won an Emmy for Bashir's makeup).