Trauma is a strange and uniquely beautiful game that has you solving problems of a lady who’s been in a car crash and is experiencing trauma. It’s a wonderfully original concept, and one that has you trawling through as much of the game as possible to explore every nook and cranny the games levels have to offer.
Trauma starts with a cutscene of a lady and a man walking down a ordinary street and getting into a car. After some lovely art work, the game makes a crashing noise, indicating that the couple have been in a car crash. The game takes place around the red haired girl recalling her life and moments through puzzles relating to the traumatic experiences in her life whilst she is in hospital undergoing treatment with a psychologist/doctor.
The gameplay of Trauma is akin to that of a point and click adventure game, one that has you exploring a whole level to click on everything you see that can resemble relevance to the level at hand. You’re given one 2D picture taken in the real world, that you must click around to explore the level. Clicking to the left will bring up a new side of the current scene, and its through this mechanic that you explore the given stage. Occasionally you’ll have to create shapes in order to finish the level, or to navigate around the world further than clicking will allow alone. Shapes like a ? will make things levitate, where as a straight line backwards will make the camera zoom out. It makes for some interesting mechanics, and although each symbol can only be used in certain contexts, its definitely adds to the exploration mechanics of the game.
Collectibles are hidden throughout each stage, enabling a player to continually go back and explore each stage to its fullest, which means Trauma has fantastic replay-ability. On top of collectibles, there are multiple ways to finish levels, leading players to go back to levels already explored trying to figure out how to see all the different ways a level will end. Some solutions to how to finish a level might not be taught until later levels, but this is a good way to get a player to replay the game without feeling that they’re repeating the same things, that is to say, they’re at least seeing something new each time.
As the game goes on, later levels become more abstract leading to more questions about the main narrative. The formula of using high quality camera shots is still used for the levels, but objects/whole scenes start to become weirdly rendered, enabling Trauma to really flex it’s muscles as a mind-bend of a game. The end of each level also shows a cutscene, which in turn gives a little bit of explanation about what the woman (patient) is going through internally.
For all of the praise I’m giving Trauma, it isn’t without its flaws. The game is extremely short, meaning I completed the game and found everything the hour mark. It is also very abstract, requiring the player to piece together the mystery and puzzle of what all the narrating means in the bigger context, which for me is fine, but for many casual players this may come across as pretentious/confusing.
Below is a recording I made of the first level, whilst trying to find all the collectibles:
To conclude, Trauma is a fantastic outing for Krystian Majewski, and I’m looking forward to playing more of her titles in the future. If you find the game on sale, it’s a fantastic purchase, but at base price the value proposition may not be to everyones liking.