grumbel's TRAUMA (PC) review

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Extremely short, but quite enjoyable

Trauma is an first person adventure game. Unlike similar games, Trauma however doesn't try to create a full 3D environment, but instead is based on a series of digital photographs that have been arranged in a 3D space and connected together similar to what Microsoft Photosynth does. Clicking on an object in one photo will move the camera smoothly to a photo of a closeup of that object, without trying to hide the fact that one is just looking at individual photos. Trauma does not have an inventory, dialog system or other elaborate mechanics to be expected of the genre, instead the games puzzles are all essentially based on exploring the environment and executing some simple mouse gestures. Polaroid photos are spread out throughout the environment and will teach those gestures along with providing a few story bits.

The game is split into four scenarios, all of them are accessible right from the start menu. Each scenario has one main ending and three optional ones, along with nine Polaroids that can be collected. The game does keep track of collected things and makes it thus easy to see what one hasn't yet discovered.

On the technical side of things Trauma is a bit of a mixed bag, the mouse gestures are well recognized, the music is great and the CGI inserted into some photos well done, but the game comes along in 800x600, which today is a rather small resolution and leads to some ugly aliasing.

In terms of story Trauma is rather thin, the games backstory is about a girl recovering from a car accident in a hospital, but that hardly influences the puzzles or environment, as all the game takes essentially place in a dreamworld, build out of that girl's memory.

Overall I enjoyed Trauma quite a bit, it's dreamy atmosphere is well done and the night time photos with all the light streaks and lens flares look quite nice. The exploration of the photo space is fun and while the story doesn't really lead to any greater conclusion, it's enough to enrich the environment a bit. The way the Polaroids give clues on how to solve puzzles in other scenarios is also quite well done.

The biggest short coming of Trauma is it's length. All the four scenarios together of the game can be finished in around 30min, as each scenario essentially only contains a single rather simple puzzle, which even given its 5€ price tag is rather short. Collecting all the Polaroids and additional endings stretches the game to around two hours, which still isn't much.

Another problem with the game is how it is split up and handles it's alternative endings. Each scenario is essentially a game of it's own, selectable from the start menu, discovering an ending will end the scenario and bring one back to the start menu. Thus to discover everything one has to reenter the scenarios quite a few times and essentially start from scratch each time. Given the shortness of the game, this isn't really a problem, as one can reach any place in the game in a matter of seconds and mouse gestures can be used even without collecting the clue that teaches them, but it breaks the flow of the game to go back to the start menu that frequently and it would have been much better to be able to discover additional things without ending the scenarios.

Anyway, long story short, it's quite an enjoyable game with a nice atmosphere, but it's also a very short one, feeling more like a free web game then something one would pay money for.

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    Pretentious Isn't the Right Word 0

    PC - Premise seemed interesting enough to warrant the $7 purchase, but that was purely based on how good the quality of the presentation is -- perhaps a bad decision. From the trailer, this Flash-based game is a moody yet meditative piece of interactive storytelling of a woman recovering from a traumatic accident.     The problem, of course, is that its story is either too sparse or too bland. The intro involves multiple friends in a car, but we never understand what happened to them. Often when...

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