Indie Review: Trauma
Trauma is the sum total of an emotional investigation into the after effects of a car accident on a nameless woman. Exploring, in depth, the psyche of trauma and the road to recovery for the traumatised.
- Worth The Time?Yes, the game has an interesting story and invests hugely in character development.
- Things LovedI loved the dream-like world of the subconscious that Trauma is set in. The exquisite photographs that really bought the Trauma to life were interesting and though provoking. The use of movie footage was also a nice addition to the overall game.
- Things HatedThe short play time of the game and the dull, uninteresting music score.
- RecommendationIf you're into Point-And-Click adventure games like Another World, Broken Sword and Gabriel Knight (including those from the Lucas Arts era) you may enjoy this game, because it does something new with the genre.
- Name: Trauma
- Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: None
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Krystian Majewski
- Publisher: None
- Price: $ 6.99 (R 50)
- Reviewed On: PC
Imagine the trauma of a car accident, the narrowing of life as the clock counts down. Everything in your life flutters by with constant streams of images, past, present and future diminishing as you cling to the last vestiges of life. Suddenly, you wake up in a hospital bed with a strange voice breaking the silence. You are greeted by a curious doctor who informs you that you’re in the E.R. So begins the story of Trauma.
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Trauma, a game designed by Krystian Majewski, both weirdly interested me and tragically puzzled me in my first play of the genre defying game. The label of “game” might be too much of a specific term for the type of experience Trauma exhibits, as one delves into the mechanics of the game. The game eloquently examines the depths of a dream-like scenario where monologues, hidden object gameplay, Point-And-Click adventure elements all come into play. The game encourages freedom of artistic exploration bestowing the ability to choose different paths allowing past events, and those of the real trauma, to become clearer as the story is realised.
Aesthetically, the game operates as a flash version of a photo album. The whole game is constructed out of ‘real’ photographs and the images, although slightly altered in some circumstances, bring to life an emotional journey through the psyche of a traumatised woman. It is one surreal journey that feels abstract and oddly unreal from start to finish. Yet Trauma offers a canvas for dream exploration the likes that Sigmund Freud only ever dreamed of.
In essence, the game plays like a hidden object game, with puzzles and the ability for the player to move around in each photograph by dragging the mouse in strokes, gesturing either left or right in each frame resulting in paint brush strokes on screen. The player then is able to notice selected objects, mainly smaller photographs pinned to various parts of the environment (such as telephone poles) and prominent features like boulders, a teddy bear, plants, doorways and alternative pathways which can be manipulated through the adept use of the mouse. The paint brush strokes (a gesture based mechanism) are required in overcoming a variety of puzzles, and further exploring disparate elements of the overall emotional journey. When completed, the player can potentially follow a unique path further into the woman’s psyche. Depending on your choices, like any good adventure game does, there are different endings that offer insight into a deeper understanding of the main character.
The game is cleverly divided into four dreamscapes (sections): “The Next Hurdle”, “Following Role Models”, “What They Expect”, “The Road Less Travelled” and by clicking on each subsection the player can read through the discoveries they’ve made, and endings they have fulfilled. Each dreamscape, offers more details about the nameless woman, the protagonist of the game, through the intersection of photographs and associated memories encompassed by an exposition of early childhood memories, life choices, relationships and family members related to each photograph. It’s similar in concept to the film Inception, of a dream within a dream, and one becomes aware of the unnamed woman’s ‘real’ reality after finishing each dreamscape. The player is rewarded with short movies that chronicle conversations between both the woman and her doctor discussing her recovery, after the accident. In totality, the game blurs the line between reality and the dream world Trauma depicts.
The game is a close analysis of a very personal and tragic event with great introspection, and a large amount of emotional catharsis for the unnamed woman. Including the player, who becomes privy to the personal life and trauma of a fictional person whose life feels ‘authentic’ and ‘real’ from start to finish. Perhaps, the unnamed woman is real and the whole game is a fictional construct. Wouldn’t that be more confounding than what I’ve tried to write in this review, and perhaps the whole point of the game is to confuse the ‘real’ and ‘dream’ worlds. Trauma is a hard game to recommend. However, for the few that are willing to try out the game that is not necessarily within the realm of traditional videogame norms; I recommend the game. What Trauma lacks in innovative gameplay, it makes up in an engrossing story bordering both fiction and truth with a heart warming core. A thought provoking game from start to finish.