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For: iPad   Also on: iPhone, Steam

Worth experiencing

Product: Trauma | Developer: Krystian Majewski | Publisher: Krystian Majewski | Format: iPad | Genre: Adventure, Casual, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Trauma iPad, thumbnail 1
Growth and exploration are two themes deeply entwined in Trauma, and the game approaches them from a mature perspective. It's a tale of a young woman coming to terms with her life in the wake of an accident, dealing with her photographic dreams through a series of gestures and discoveries.

It's also unlike anything you've ever played before. There are hidden objects to discover and riddles to solve, but the game plays out with a poetic abstraction that blends fact and fiction, creating an atmosphere of uncertainty at almost every turn.

This is a game that makes discovery joyful, using its revelations not just as climaxes to puzzles but as meaningful sprigs of growth in a character you come to care about through the brief time you're inhabiting her life.

Trauma centre

Trauma is set over a series of still photographs which you navigate through with a series of taps and swipes. The mechanics of the game are never explicitly laid out, but exploration rewards you with tutorials of sorts that show you enough to get by.

Taps move you through the photos, whereas swipes generate beams of golden light. Drawing certain symbols at the right time will elicit an effect. But you need to discover those symbols for yourself, and figure out when and where you need to draw them.

Polaroid pictures litter each of the four levels, hidden in plain sight. These give you clues about what you need to do and range from the obvious to the mind-numbingly cryptic. Sometimes you'll be given a command, other times a snapshot from your life before the accident.

There are multiple endings to discover for each of the levels, and they all have their own secrets to reveal. You can finish the game in a matter of minutes, but there's still explanation and catharsis waiting to be unlocked within the objects and gestures you've missed.

Trouble sleeping

One level sees you chasing a ghost, created from the smears of light left by still photos of a running man. Around you giant machinery juts out, plastered with graffiti and covered in posters. Snippets of dialogue accompany the scene as you try to figure out how to stop the ghost from escaping every time.

But catching the ghost isn't enough to get a full understanding of the level, and confusingly named endings are teased from the main menu, letting you know that there's more to the dream than just a man who got away.

Trauma gives you nothing for free. It's for you to explore and understand the landscapes and narrative threads that it's slowly feeding you. It's a bleak, sometimes disorientating experience, and some will find the lack of help the game offers aggravating.

Psychological thriller

Trauma lacks the immediacy inherent in almost all mobile gaming nowadays. It's a slow burn, happy to sit back and allow you to dig around. It's a game that knows when to be quiet and let you figure things out for yourself.

That can be quite jarring, and there will be times when you've got no idea what you're supposed to be doing or how to proceed. The free-form nature of the game means you can simply hop out of one level and go tackle the next, but it's still frustrating to wander around the same set of photos with no clue as to what happens next.

All the same, Trauma is an intelligent and important addition to the App Store. Its delicate touch and its maturity are refreshing enough on their own, but finding a game with real emotion amid the clamour of zombie shooters and endless-runners feels like walking into the sunlight after weeks of darkness.
Reviewer photo
Harry Slater | 25 March 2013
A deep, considered, and emotive game, Trauma won't be for everyone. Those who find it, however, will likely fall in love with it
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