By Joseph Luster
While we primarily focus on World War II games here, we’ll occasionally come across a title that makes it worth our while to step a little further back into the past. Trenches—a survival horror game from Steelkrill Studio that takes place in the dank and claustrophobic trenches of World War I—is something we found difficult to resist.
As evidenced by what we’ve seen while the game is in Early Access—which is where it likely will still be by the time this issue is in your hands—Trenches isn’t your average survival horror game. The developer has put an emphasis on psychological horror as you step into the role of James R. and attempt to survive and escape a harsh war-torn environment. Set in 1917, players must tangle with both tangible threats and existential encroachments upon their very sanity, exploring a chilling story that has you desperately trying to make it back to your family alive in the process.
All images and video from the game will clue you in on the fact that this is literally and figuratively a dark experience. In many cases you’ll be depending on your hearing to figure out how best to escape as you follow the sounds of the Trench Whistle with which you’re equipped. Using the whistle gives you a chance to follow the specific sound, but you’ll have to be careful, because enemies can hear the whistle, as well, cluing them into your position. To make things even more desperate, this is a single-save game. If you die, you die, so those into more demanding challenges will get the most out of this particular war game.
Thankfully, you’l have more than a whistle at your disposal throughout your grueling journey. An in-depth hiding system gives you plenty of opportunities to evade watchful eyes, and you can also knock on wood or toss bottles to throw enemies off your trail. These enemies can hear your footsteps, and even your breathing, though, and the constant pressure is sure to play havoc on your sanity. The state of your personal sanity can even change the environment, so just because you’ve been to a location before doesn’t mean you won’t see something new and potentially jarring upon second glance.
At certain points you might not even be able to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s playing tricks on your mind. Aspects like this make Trenches something that has real legs and an exciting kind of replayability, so it will be interesting to see how it develops throughout its Early Access period. We’re ready to continue failing to survive over and over again in the meantime.
Publisher: Steelkrill Studio
System: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Switch
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