Among the game I got from the last Humble Bundle was TRAUMA by Krystian Majewski, an interesting conceptual game which you can try online. It’s not an otome game but it’s worth trying; while the story concept isn’t unique, the execution is.
Imagine going to a place where there’s no one else around. Imagine standing on 1 spot and taking photos of your surrounding as you turn 360 degrees at the same spot… photos of what you see at eye level, what you see above and what you see below, zooming in on a particular object once in a while. Then move forward a few metres towards one of the directions, and take photos of your surrounding again… and continue moving forward as you take photos of your surrounding. Imagine then, all of these photos strung together to create an environment you can explore within a game… that’s what TRAUMA is.
The storyline… well, interestingly, the game itself didn’t explain much about the story. It showed a short video clip in which there was a hint showing you what had happened without ever spelling it out for you… the basic premise (which I found out from the official site) was that you play as a young woman who had survived a car accident, and as she’s recovering in the hospital she saw these dreams which shed a light to the problems/issues she had deep inside. I had a slightly different interpretation when I was playing the game (before reading the official site into), but anyways… in the end, it felt like the story was something each person could interpret differently.
Due to the way the game was designed, most of the ‘photos’ you see in front of you don’t fill up the screen and leave something of a black frame on the edges of the game window (you can see it on the official site’s screenshots). When you hover your cursor over the black frame on the edges, you’ll see a flash/mirage of another photo superimposed… meaning you can click on it and view that scenery. Remember when I wrote about turning around 360 degrees? When you’re viewing a particular scenery, you usually have a few options with regards to where you can turn/view: left, right, up, upper left, upper right, below etc. To move forward, most of the time you just have to click inside the scenery itself (the cursor will change to indicate that you can click on something).
There’s a bit of a puzzle-solving element in TRAUMA, although that’s minimal compared to the exploration part. You really do need to explore each stage thoroughly, as each stage hides 9 photographs which are scattered all over the place… and finding some of them will be dastardly tricky. Each of the 4 stage/dreams will teach you a particular symbol you can draw on-screen using the cursor. Each symbol is meant to be used differently, and each stage contains objectives that can be accomplished using the different symbols. Each dream has 1 main ending and 3 additional endings, and you need to revisit the dreams repeatedly. For example, you can use the symbol you learn in Dream A to get the main ending in Dream A… but if you want to get the second ending you need to know the symbol you learn in Dream B and so on. The main endings are easy and fast to get, it’s the additional endings which needed explorations. Getting everything will net you an alternate ending, but that’s about it.
In short, this felt like an interesting experimental, conceptual game for me… and in that regards it did well. The female narrator and the way the graphics were presented… for some reason they gave me a bit of a creepy feeling, and I repeatedly found myself thinking this style would make an awesome horror game. Not that I’d play a horror game, being too much of a coward… also, if you can’t be bothered doing exploration or don’t have the patience for slow-paced games, don’t play this game. Other than that, why not try? It’s a unique execution of a game to warrant at least a trial. And each dream is also very, very short… you can finish each dream in under 5 minutes if you’re just getting the main ending and disregard the exploration part.