Review: Trenches – A Nightmare That is Hard to Forget

Review: Trenches

Developed and published by a solo developer at Steelkrill Studio, Trenches is a haunting survival game set in the trenches of the bloody WWI. WWI is known for its brutality and only people who went through this nightmare of war can really understand the horrors of it. Trenches by Steelkrill Studio is set inside this same nightmare of a setting and takes the horror to another level by making it a horror game where your sanity drops down every time you witness something supernatural. The fact that this entire game was developed by a single developer is even more amazing because apart from a few nags, the game barely feels like an indie game. This is our review of the PS5 version of Trenches in which we explore some foggy trenches and collect some crying babies.

Trenches is played as a first-person game where you are awakened to find yourself in abandoned trenches of World War I in 1917. The war is still raging around you but your survival is not against the enemy soldiers but you have to watch out for your sanity and escape the monstrosities present in the labyrinth of trenches where you are located. While the overall concept of Trenches is pretty basic where you have to collect a certain number of objects while avoiding the monster and escape with your life, the execution of the game is really impressive and easily makes this game to another level of horror.

Review: Trenches

Right when you start playing the game, you will notice two things. First, your character blinks his eyes really slowly and the effect is enough to give you goosebumps because every time he blinks, the world goes dark, and you instantly get on your toes as if something will jump into your face when you open your eyes again. Second, the trenches are extremely foggy and the huge lights shining everywhere do not do justice to your eyesight as well. Most of the time, you will either be blinded by the dense fog or the immense shine of large floodlights installed at the top of the trenches. These large floodlights were used to blind enemy soldiers during the war, so you will also find them blinding you here as well.

The game gives you a small area to familiarize yourself with the controls of the game and once you progress through the first game, you will start getting followed by the monster as you start collecting crying babies to solve clues and unlock the exit. The cries of these babies are your only guide in finding their locations. The whole map of Trenches is like a maze where getting lost is really easy and if the monster pops up in your way, you either have to hide from it or find another path ahead. The monster responds to your position dynamically as well where it will use different tactics to lure you out in the open to pounce on you. Apart from collecting these crying baby dolls, you will also find different useful items or lore collectibles that allow you to understand what has been happening in the trenches before your nightmare began.

Trenches Release Date

If you get lost, you can blow a Trench Whistle but the monster can easily hear it and will quickly dash to the location where you blew it so using it is always a bargain. The map also offers you different hiding spots where you can hide from your enemies if you are spotted at any given time. You just have to make sure that you know your way around to the nearest hiding spot because navigation is one of the most complex elements in Trenches. There are different interactable items here and there as well. Some of these will give you gameplay tips as well so exploration might be a little too out of your comfort in Trenches but it is always useful to explore every area that you come across in the game. Another great mechanic of Trenches is that while playing the game with the mic equipped if the enemy spots you and you run into a hiding spot, it will hear your breathing through the mic and won’t leave unless you hold your breath and there is no sound around you. I never got caught while I was inside the hiding space so I am not really sure if the enemy barges in if you keep breathing but it certainly does not leave if you keep breathing.

Another major win for Trenches is the sound design because, during your gameplay, the sound will play a vital role in scaring you. There are random screams, footsteps, and other scary noises always playing here and there that keep you on your toes. The monster itself uses sound to manipulate you. In one instance when I was in hiding and the monster was looking for me, it was using a child’s voice saying that it needed my help to lure me out. This is a really scary mechanic and one that still haunts me. Apart from this, the monster’s arrival sound is also an air-raid siren which is a really cool touch. The whole gameplay revolves around you listening to a child’s screams and blowing a whistle so sound plays a crucial part in progress.

Review: Trenches

Coming to the quality of sound, certain sounds feel a little too loud when it comes to the overall volume of the game, but I am not sure if this was made deliberately like this or is just bad mixing. The monster’s footsteps are too loud even when it is far away from you and when it comes near, it becomes too loud. They are also not precise, so you do not know for sure where the monster is at any time. Even playing on surround sound, you cannot understand where the monster is located because the sound does not provide you with decent feedback. The background music and the thundering of the clouds are also dynamic and will react to the in-game events. To keep your own movement sounds low, you have to crouch as well because most of the areas inside the trenches are wooden so wood creaking makes a lot of sounds for the enemies to hear them.

Trenches is a great horror game for the console and if you love jumpscares, you will love Trenches as well because this game is all about jump scares. Even the sound of your objective getting updated is so loud that it might scare you. Apart from the main monster, there are plenty of other things in the game as well that might scare you because you are always expecting the monster to appear out of nowhere. The whole atmosphere of exploring trenches filled with death and gore with a thick fog and the slow eye-blinking mechanic in place, all of these formulate a great recipe for horror. Trenches only lags in terms of its visual quality but that is because this game has been developed by a solo developer. Overall, the game is pretty stable and runs pretty well on the PS5 and you will just need to keep the visual quality out of your head while playing the game.

Final Verdict:

Trenches is a really haunting experience and if you love horror games, I can assure you that this is one game that will really test your patience as you sneak around spooky WWI trenches. While the aspect of WWI is already scary enough because of the premise of the war and considering the fact how brutal this war was so playing a horror game inspired by its setting makes it even scarier. The overall level design of Trenches along with its sound design, gameplay mechanics and overall visual design is just brilliant. If you have been eying this previously PC-only horror game, you can now jump into the PS5 console release and experience the horrors of WWI while keeping your sanity in check.

Final Score: 9.0/10

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About the Author: Umair Khalid

Founder of GamesHedge, Umair enjoys a wide variety of video games ranging from RPGs to racing games. Currently busy with The Crew Motorfest and Way of the Hunter.

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