This guest review was written by Ross Smith.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be trapped inside a dream? Well though not exactly the same TRUAMA gives you a pretty decent attempt, creating an atmosphere not usually devised in modern video games. This little indie game was created almost single-handedly by Krystian Majewski, with a handful of other people chipping in with sound and voice acting, who had hoped to create an almost biographical game that took a stranger turn.
The entire game takes place from the perspective of our narrator, a young women who is recovering from a near fatal car crash, as she passes from lucid dreams revealing deeper parts of her psyche too her conversations with an unknown doctor telling her about the progress she has made. Though the story its self might not be the most engaging, and rather simple, it’s the narrative that really captures the player’s attention slowly unfolding as you delve deeper into the game.
While the story is lacking and the narrative does its best to patch it together the game play and visual style is something else entirely, this is what makes this game different from your usual title, though it doesn’t exactly make it a good game. Game play mostly boils down to navigating through a selection of photo’s strung together in a strange panoramic style, with augmented reality like effects added on top of some of the stills, as you search for specific clues to help navigate to the end of the level. Though end is a term used loosely as there is alternative ways of finishing a level as you learn more symbols to paint over the photos that create different effects.
Now the painting mechanic needs a little bit of explanation as it’s something that’s not apparent when you first enter the game and it’s not massively diverse in the things you can achieve. When you first enter the game, though you can play the levels in any order which might confuse some, you will begin to notice Polaroid photos stuck in some strange locations throughout the levels with each detailing a symbol you can draw with your brush, a location to use one of your symbols or possibly a memory which sparks a little monologue from our hospitalised protagonist. You then take these symbols, for example the first major one will lift a strange type of stone that are found throughout various levels, and paint them using your mouse and clicking. Though don’t worry the game does its best to recognise the symbols no matter how bad you botch drawing them.
So we’ve had Polaroid photos within photos that you can paint on, which sounds a little like a graphic design student’s wet dream, but that’s where the games diversity and originality ends and even things like the painting mechanic are very reminiscent of other games such as The Void/Tension. So that brings us onto the last major component of the game which is the voice acting and for what its worth I feel it was done well. The protagonist often seems depressed and uninterested, like she is viewing her life in third person wishing she was somewhere else, throw in the fact she is struggling with her environment trapped inside a hospital it actually makes the voice acting feeling genuine, with only one occasions where I can remember the protagonist chuckling as she delivers a line.
So finally my thoughts on the entire experience, as its difficult to consider it a game yet it clearly is, I had fun and my curiosity was piqued whilst playing and I am glad I did. Though it’s very difficult to recommend to others with its relatively short play time, dull tones and semi interactive game play, rather I would say check it out if your more interested in a piece of visual art and try the version available for free at http://www.traumagame.com/ leaving it up to you to say if it deserves your money or not.