Indie Game Spotlight: TRAUMA
TRAUMA is a heady point-and click adventure game that trades its passive gameplay style for an active intellectual experience, exploring the human subconscious and the way we interpret it.
Looking for something different? Good. Here’s one for ya. TRAUMA is a short point and click adventure game about exploring the way the human psyche deals with different serious issues from within an unconscious state.
Sound weird enough yet? Let’s start from the beginning. Our game’s hero gets in a car crash, and the game itself is comprised of her remembering the dreams she’s been having while in a rehabilitation center. There are four dreams you are presented with from the outset, which don’t have to be played in any particular order, but at the same time are each their own complete thought.
Or that’s what it seems, at least. As you explore these recollections, which are represented by photos that you navigate in a Myst-style fashion, you come across photographs you can pick up all over the world in unusual locations. These items will reveal something about our hero, or contain information about her journey through the dreamworld. As you start coming across more and more photographs, you quickly find that these dreams are more interconnected than you might have surmised.
When you are searching through these dreams, the pictures themselves tilt around with you, making the world just that more immersive as you look for clues, while at the same time making it feel like something is always hiding right outside the frame. To move through different areas you can use the Myst-style “click to go left or right” interface I’ve mentioned, or you can utilize a gesture system that feels like it was ripped straight from a Nintendo DS game (in a good way). The entire presentation of the game, despite not being nearly as high-res as we come to expect modern games to be, left me with a very good impression. Tasteful minimalism throughout is what this game sticks to, and I appreciate it all the more for it.
In terms of sound design, we get the same minimalism. There is a constant aura of a dangerous and unsettling atmosphere, which I feel perfectly captures the experience of being in a dream. The broken-English-speaking voice actress narrating the whole affair only adds to the game’s charm in the long run, but beyond that there isn’t much to be found. The idea isn’t for a sensory overload here.
All in all, this is a very unusual game, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s the sort of thing that makes me really thankful for Steam, because something with such an open-ended approach to narrative would probably never make it to the boxed market. I would definitely say check this out if you are looking for a fresh, heady piece that trades its passivity of gameplay for an active intellectual experience.
Note: I bought this for $6.99, but if you’re looking for more hours-to-dollars bang for your buck I’d suggest you wait until it goes on sale. Or hey, you could support a great indie dev and use their website to name your own price!