Friends, I’m going to cut right to the chase. Much like this game, this review is going to be short and unpleasant. I have genuinely tried to find something nice to say about Trenches. Horror has been my bread and butter, ever since I was a little kid. I tend to lean a bit more on the harsh side because of this, but I always try to find something positive. Maybe I’m just not the right audience, or maybe there’s just some fine-tuning needed. Unfortunately, Trenches needs more than just some fine-tuning. Let’s get right into it.
What is Trenches?
Trenches is set during World War 1. You play as a soldier trapped behind enemy lines, trying to escape. Also, it’s raining. And there are babies crying. Not real babies, however. They’re dolls. I still don’t totally understand why, but you had to collect them along the way. However, the monster that’s also in the trenches with you responds to sounds. You have a whistle to help locate the baby dolls, but the sound will also attract the monster.
The thing with the monster though, once you’ve seen it the first time, it loses all impact after. It honestly reminded me of the basement enemy in Amnesia The Dark Descent. There are jump scares littered throughout, but nothing to actually leave a lasting impression. A quick “Oh!” moment, that’s it. The death scene is the exact same every time, with no variation in any way. The monster runs at you, screams, bye bye. This kind of thing can be forgiven if there are enough redeeming qualities in other areas. But there wouldn’t have been a warning at the start of this review if that was the case.
Why does Trenches flop for me?
Here’s the thing, the base idea for Trenches is a pretty nifty one. There’s a monster other than the horrors of war in the trenches. However, the story is lacking in any kind of beats that would make the dull jumps and uninspired monster design bearable. I will give it props for running well on Xbox Series X. Zero performance issues in my experience.
But the controls… The crouch was so slow, to the point I was questioning if I’d even pressed the right button. And nothing could be altered, so have fun fat-fingering the whistle button constantly. Also, the map. What is the point of the map? It doesn’t even show where you are, or if it does, I couldn’t find it. The readability, or lack thereof, is scarier than the actual game.
The Big Issues
Again, these are things I could have forgiven, at least enough to rate the game a full star. But I have two BIG issues with this game. One is truly wasted potential due to poor implementation. Trenches utilises real photographs from WWI. This idea alone has enough power to be terrifying. However, outside of the occasional pick-up and loading screen, the images primarily just flash up on the screen for a split second in random areas of the trenches. Turn a corner, BAM! Have a random picture that’s not even on the screen long enough to distinguish.
But even worse… Friends, before I played Trenches, I didn’t even know people considered adding almost real-time blinking to a video game. Yes, you read that right. Real-time blinking. Or at least close to it. The character blinks, every couple of minutes. It’s a slow blink, taking a couple of seconds. I can understand the want to be innovative, especially in such a heavily saturated genre. However, this is NOT the way to go about it. It just does not work, in any way. And it can’t be turned off! The feature is just a major annoyance.
At the end of the day, Trenches just has nothing going for it. Not in my books, anyways. It just feels like it takes ideas from different games that have had a level of success, mashed it all up and called it a day. Truly, I wanted to like this game. It looked incredible in the trailers. The execution just falls far too flat.
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