Genre:   Interactive story

Developer & Publisher:  Krystian Majewski

Released:  2011

Requirements:   TRAUMA is available for current Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OSX and Linux Systems. It requires a reasonably equipped, average modern computer to run smoothly.




by flotsam


By definition an emotional wound or shock, Trauma is far more a feeling or experience than it is a game, although game-like interactions punctuate the events. It seemed like it wanted to be more than a game, but ultimately it felt a bit empty, a pretty thing that was over too quickly to make a deep impression.

Yet I sit here, pensive and pondering, flicking back over the movies, bathed in the haunting soundtrack, so it nonetheless left a mark.

There is a poetic quality about Trauma, and perhaps that’s the best way to approach it. Poems are different things to different people, and so is this. You might love it, dissect it, discuss it and remember it, or you might simply finish it and forget it.

I came back to it, and kept poking at it. I wanted to understand it, or at least understand what it wanted to achieve. In the end, it was as open in its meaning as it was in its playing.

There is pain, as you would expect from a trauma, and while there is physical recovery there is no "happily ever after". Depending which ending you get, the subtle yet substantial difference suggests an emotional recovery is far away.

Four recurring dream sequences overlay an interaction between a young woman injured in a car accident and a psychologist or similar therapist. Like real dreams, they can fracture or simply stop rather than finish. There is no obvious path through any of them, and the paths that there are can stutter and lurch. You will be thrown out of the dream, or can choose to leave it, whereupon you can enter another or go back to the same one. It will, like a recurring dream, start again – the same things will happen and can be made to happen over and over. What you want is to make something else happen.

Each dream has a main ending, and three alternate ones, and you can find them all or find none of them. Each dream contains nine photos to find, yet none are compulsory. They have meaning, in terms of the life that is the young woman’s, and they will tell you things that will help you in the dreams.

The dreamscapes are made up of photographs, muted in colour, through which you click to move about. You will also discover symbols which you can use to manipulate certain things within the dreams. You draw these symbols by dragging your mouse; draw them in the right places and you may catch a ghost or shatter one, and you will also get an “end”.

That the dreams are constructed from photographs is no accident. While you learn other things about the life of the young woman, a camera on the seat of the car in the opening sequence suggests her interests include photography. They are her dreams, and she narrates you through them, offering insights and thoughts triggered by the in-dream photos or the surroundings.

There is a highly stylish and cinematic quality to the filmed scenes in the real world, and a no less stylish surrealism about the dream worlds. Trauma is artistic in both conceptualisation and construction, with a minimalist style that belies its complexity.

It's incredibly short, somewhere between 30 minutes and two hours depending on the endings you want to find. As far as I am aware, if you want the alternate real world ending, you will have to find everything there is to find, but you can “complete” it finding very little. It's up to you.

In the end, Trauma will be at its best when not thought of as a game, but as a kind of interactive emotion, which is how I have rated it. It's worth the price of entry simply to experience.


I played on:

OS: Windows 7

Processor: AMD Phenom 9500 Quad Core CPU 2.2 GHz

Ram: 4.00GB DDR2 400MHz

Gx card: ATI Radeon HD 3850 512Mb

Trauma is available from the game's website as a download. 

December 2011

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