Review: Trauma

When it comes to anything “different,” I’m always at the ready. Show me something unique and indecipherable, and I’m on it right away. So when I got my hands on independent point-and-click art school project turned adventure game Trauma, I was pleased as punch. While its interface resembled something closer to educational software or some sort of strange student project meant to explore the depths of the human psyche, what waited inside was even more cryptic. In the end, after having gone into the game completely uninitiated, I enjoyed my time with this strange one, and I suspect you will too.

Trauma explores the mind of a badly injured woman who is trapped, in a sense, in the hospital. Through her vivid, recurring dreams (four to be exact) we are taken on a surrealistic journey through sight and sound, through rich and colorful photographs, brilliant lighting effects, and dreamlike atmospheres that only serve as a reminder that this is certainly not your typical “game.” In fact, I’d recommend staying well enough away from Trauma if you’re looking for a cohesive narrative or any shred of conventional sense. This is an exemplary instance of a title where drawing your own conclusions will be how you’ll get the most enjoyment from it.

In stark contrast from the fuzzy bleakness of the hospital you’re treated to warm, frenetic hues in the dreams, which you can explore by means of clicking, dragging, or flicking your mouse. There are no tutorials to aid in your journey, so it’s up to you to find out which ways you’ll need to implement your only method of “transportation” throughout the misty vale of the dreamworld — or by picking up the various photographs scattered throughout each location. Rather than simply searching for photos, however, you must complete several objectives in order to advance the hospital story further — you’ll receive multiple pieces of cut scenes in order to do this, but only after searching each dream thoroughly and a hefty amount of backtracking through dreams you already previously “completed.”

Though the game slightly resembles a traditional point-and-click adventure game, there’s nothing typical about it. It’s frustrating, slow, and confusing, but it’s also beautiful in a somber sort of way. Deliciously indulgent music and some chilling high-resolution photos ensure you’re fully immersed in this seemingly alien world, and it can be a slow slog toward the finish (if you consider completing your objectives the finish), but Trauma is an interesting experiment and an adventure that slowly blurs the line between dream and reality. You may not find what you’re looking for here, but you’ll definitely come away with some new insights on life, the dream world, and what reality actually is.

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