App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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When Trauma first came out for the PC it got quite a bit of attention thanks in no small part to it’s unique style and haunting audio. The story probably didn’t’ hurt things, either. And now it’s made the jump to iOS. There’s nothing technically “new” about it when compared to the original, but the surreal experience has made the jump to mobile devices quite well all things considered.
Trauma tells the story of a young woman who has survived a presumably terrible car accident. She didn’t come out of it unscathed, however, and she has to spend quite a bit of time recovering in the hospital. The game specifically lets players explore a series of recurring dreams she has while stuck in medical limbo, and little by little they’ll be able to piece together what her life has been like through a number of subtle clues and hidden Polaroids.
Navigating through Trauma’s environments and solving its puzzles works a lot like a classic point-and-click adventure game, albeit with no inventory and a big emphasis on exploring. It doesn’t take long to solve a given dream’s major puzzles after a little looking around, but each is also filled with those Polaroids I mentioned earlier. Most of them reveal tiny bits about the young woman’s life while the rest explain the various gestures needed to navigate, move large rocks, and so on. It may not take much to finish, but there’s quite an incentive to go back and really scrounge for all those photos.
Of course Trauma’s captivating stylistic choices are also one of its biggest drawbacks. It’s beautiful and haunting, but it can also be a little confusing to get around when certain screens can only be reached by taking specific routes. At least that’s how it seems to work in the iOS version. That might be more due to the touch controls, however, as slowly dragging a finger across the screen sometimes triggers an unintended transition and the symbols that need to be drawn don’t always register properly.
Sure the touch controls are a tiny bit rough at times but since there’s no real action to speak of it’s never more than a minor irritation. Trauma is full of a subtle elegance that makes it very much worth any adventure game fans experiencing it at least once.