If the Huey Helicopter is the symbol of the Vietnam War, then the trenches of World War I would represent what the war was. World War I was one of the largest conflicts ever fought in human history. The battles waged across Europe still have stories to tell a century later. Stories of thunderous artillery and howling whistles still haunt the minds of those alive today. The darkest of nightmares lie within the Trenches.
Trenches is a first-person horror game. Wounded and defenseless, Trenches puts players into the unforgiving world of a WWI Trench on a mission to escape. The only way out of darkness is through it. In Trenches, every step you take and every move you make is being watched by an unknown evil.
War is Hell
History tells us the hellscape that is World War I. Between the torn landscape of artillery fire and mud were trenches filled with men. Horrifying acts of war occurred in the trenches, and men lived and fought in space of rotten wood and the smell of flesh. It's a dirty environment, and it is here that something sinister stalks you at every turn. The goal: Get out with your life.
In Trenches, there are no weapons. There is no means to defend oneself. There is a constant sensation of dread as a mysterious creature stalks and preys on the player. The creature is attracted to noise. Every thunk on a wooden plank draws attention, more so if players begin running. Run too hard, and the creature gets the player. The entire level is a dreary landscape of rain, clouds, and the constant sensation of imminent death.
Nothing is What it Seems
In a sinister twist, death does not mean starting at a checkpoint but starting at the very beginning of the game. No matter what kind of progress has been made, death means all progress is lost. This is a further emphasis on the danger of the unknown creature, as well as its unpredictability. This keeps players aware and on their toes, as they make their way through the maze. Adding to this complexity is random generation, meaning no two runs are the same.
The only aid players have is the whistle. The whistle was synonymous with World War I, and the whistle helps guide players through the maze of wood and mud. Using the whistle comes at a cost. The monster will track the player down and home in on the sound. Playing Trenches is a combination of sneaking and using the whistle, all the while paying close attention to sound and surroundings.
Playing Trenches is terrifying! It is certainly a unique horror experience that makes players feel vulnerable and defenseless. Maneuvering through the vast maze and ways of wooden alleyways is a distinct experience that is disarming and exposed. Running and finding an exit truly feels like a game of cat and mouse, except there is no way for the mouse to defend itself. It's an intense game, and horror enthusiasts will certainly enjoy it.
What aids in the experience is the sound. Every creak of the wood feels like a sudden burst of sheer terror. Every move could feel like the last. There is a constant sense of hopelessness and decay throughout. Footsteps are a blessing and a curse. Trenches captures the horror of being in a trench and the vulnerability that it is to be pursued by an unseen enemy. It's a strong horror effect that is captured remarkably well.
Every game has a drawback, and in this case, it's the length. Trenches is a short and confined experience. Once it is figured out, there is no replay value. This makes Trenches great for playing on a stream or among friends, but there is nothing to offer after finishing. This makes Trenches the kind of game you buy at a deep discount but enjoy nonetheless, as it is a cohesive experience as opposed to a drawn-out one.
Not every game has to be a 100-hour romp. Some can be short and memorable experiences, such as Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet. The developer for Trenches should be applauded for making such a game like Trenches, and I hope their journey continues. While short, Trenches is a bone-chilling good time and comes recommended when looking for a spooky old time in No Man's Land.
Trenches was reviewed on the PS5 thanks to a key generously supplied to Stack Up by PR Hound.