TRAUMA Review (PC)

By Zott820Zott820
01 May 2012 23:02

I received the download version of Trauma as a bonus buy when I purchased the Frozensynapse Humble Bundle. The game wasn't even on my radar, but now possessing ownership I felt obligated to suck the value from the item.

The game is Adobe Flash based and available free off the author's website for those who don't drop some coin on the game. The downloadable version claims the advantages of higher quality video and minimal load, but I'll lay down my own impressions of that in a moment.

Firstly, is the game worth paying for? No, it is not. Is the game worth checking out? If you have time to spare, and can risk not enjoying it. This is a game you'd have to 'feel' to enjoy. I would not come back.

Gameplay consists of searching a landscape made up of pictures and occasionally interacting with mouse clicks. Anybody familiar with Myst will understand the concept immediately, as it is very similar here. The main advantage of Trauma's movement system is that mousing over a possible movement node permits 'peeking' at the next node with that scene's photo tilted in 3D respective to the currently viewed photo, a nice guiding touch. This is what the author's page means when it mentions "3D Technology". Poloroid photos may be spotted along the landscape, interacting with such photos rewards more tidbits of exposition, and hints to movements and endings. Perhaps an unfortunate artifact of using snapshots of real world locations, movement was as, or more, constrained as/than the movement in Myst, as well as connecting nodes not being as logically placed as the player navigates the dream world. The shadow of the camera on the tripod occasionally makes appearances as well, breaking the pure dream motif.


Speaking of dreams, the whole game is one, so if you hated Super Mario 3 for being a dream, you won't like this. Being a dream, the character you are playing has the ability to manipulate the environment with mouse gestures. Most of the gestures are movement based, which I found to be slower and more confusing than clicking on the 3D photos mentioned above. Generally, gestures work, but sometimes miss-recognition occurs. (In the first dream, I raised the ball 4 times on accident when trying to change screens.) Four other special gestures are learned through the four dream scenarios available to the player. The dreams can be played in any order, and replaying dreams with newly learned gestures allowed for finding "hidden" endings. These endings are short and tend to show off 3D graphics overlayed on the photos with a one-line voiceover to fill in story gaps.

The story is completely spoken in metaphor. Interludes of the real world occur in a hospital where the one other character, the doctor, coaxes the player to return to the real world. In honor of the metaphor of the game, I will speak the next section about the downloadable copy in metaphor.

I was blinded by the Flash, as I jittered and juttered still, away from the browsing agent. Could I not go faster? (Still runs in flash in download copy, some lag) I looked and my eyes were fully covered by the window, but blackness covered the sides. (Not Widescreen ratio). A deep fog covered my eyes, only when I closed the window so it was smaller could I see more clearly. Windows are supposed to be clearer than wanderers and cameras are supposed to capture the world as it is. (Not HD graphics, looks best not at full-screen). I waited to enter my dreams. Not as bad as the usual insomnia of the wandering browser, but there were noticeable sittings. (Still noticeable initial load times). My game didn't save? (Sometimes the save data didn't record)

Snap out of it! As might be grasped just now, the downloadable version is not worth it, but if you find the game interesting as played on the website, perhaps you should just donate for the hope of other projects in the same styling.

It's hard to think of trauma as a game, because the world doesn't have distinct goals or objectives, rather it is rather an interactive story. Just like Indigo Prophecy, Trauma should be played for the experience; it isn't something I could see myself coming back for honing skills, improving strategy or just getting overall better at it. Finally, the whole thing could be beaten in roughly an hour with all the story elements found. So, rather than reading a book one day, maybe try Trauma out.

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