Bite-sized Review

Developer: Steelkrill Studio

Release Date: 03 June, 2022 

Platform: Windows, Switch

Genre: Horror

By Chris Picone, 04 February 2023

This is something of a reluctant review - I bought into Trenches because I loved the idea of a horror game set in the trenches of WW1 but wasn't terribly impressed with its execution.  However, my young fella enjoyed it as much as he was terrified by it (which is to say, thoroughly), so I thought it was still worth covering - maybe it's a great game and I'm just not the target audience?  


I'll start with a positive from me.  As expected, Trenches is set inside a fictional trench system in WW1.  Something (TM) has happened, leaving you alone in the trenches, except for a few corpses.  Trench whistles blow hauntingly, air raid sirens blare, thunder cracks.  It's a genuinely spooky setting and you get a very real sense of impending danger.  Unfortunately, it's also filled with gimmicks which I found annoying:  Because the game's above ground, the developer has relied on some extreme solar flare (instead of darkness) to hide details.  To provide opportunities for apparitions to sneak up or appear, the character blinks, shuttering the whole screen - but so often that it's actually distracting.  Your character pants, very loudly - and not only when you're running or exhausted.  When you see your shadow you appear as a skeleton. Spooky, right? But when you look down you can see human hands.   They're good ideas, but not executed terribly well and I found they detracted from the experience.



The gameplay in Trenches is very similar to most horror games being pumped out these days.  You roam around the trenches, uncovering clues - either hand-scrawled notes or, eerily, real WW1 photographs.  From time to time visions of corpses will appear.  While you're trying to uncover the game's story, a monster will periodically appear.  It's attracted to any noise you make, so you have to sneak around and hide any time it starts sniffing you out.  The horror factor relies on cheap jump scares.  I found these to be quite Monty Python-esque.  A bit disappointing, I thought, to rely on some generic monster and jump scares in such a genuinely terrifying setting.  But while I was left shaking my head, I was amused to see that my young fella would just about crap himself every time.  I don't know, maybe I'm just dead inside.



If you're a fan of this genre of horror games, check it out.  In terms of gameplay I find they're all basically one and the same, but this one at least has an interesting and unusual setting.