Jump scares are used a lot in modern media and can be used to terrify the audience. I, for one, fall victim to them in most horror movies, and they usually render me temporarily immobile from the fright. I was halfway through my first run of the Trenches when I paused the game; unable to continue. However, it wasn’t the jump scare that worried me. Instead, I just wanted the jump scare audio to stop, so I could progress with the game, and get away from the monster in this maze of torment.
Trenches plays like most Slender-Man clones; find the clues before the monster gets you. You must crouch to avoid making noise and locate hiding spots for when you inevitably get caught. It’s pretty straightforward, but Trenches succeeds in creating a chilling atmosphere that will even terrify horror veterans.
It’s not every day that a horror game will make you pause the game to take a break. However, that’s exactly what the Trenches did. The voices of fallen soldiers crying for help and the real-life photos from WW1 created an immersive experience; especially with headphones. I was crouch walking everywhere to avoid alerting the monster, even if it was nowhere to be seen.
“All these positive designs create a well-crafted atmosphere that will make most indie horror games jealous.”
Trenches excels in almost every design aspect. The sound design tricks you into feeling safe with brief silences before you hear the cries of soldiers in the distance. Even the monsters footsteps gave a clear indication of how silly I was to take that right turn into a dead end. The monster design was simple yet extremely unsettling when you spied it through a gap in the wall. However, the most compelling aspect is the trenches themselves. This maze will have you pausing the game and trying to remember which way is up. Like a rat trapped in a maze, you will run the same area multiple times without realising it. All these positive designs create a well-crafted atmosphere that will make most indie horror games jealous.
Steelkrill Studio, the developer behind the game, also used trench whistles to add to the horror. Trench whistles were used to issue commands or coordinate movements across soldiers in the trenches. Although, in Trenches, they offer audio cues for where the clues are. However, the catch is that the sound immediately alerts the monster. Panicking was a major part of my playthrough and I loved it.
Similar to Slender-Man, the monster that chases you is unkillable. Although I really liked the death animation, after a while, it wasn’t as scary. I was once a horror house actor and I had to jump out and scream at those who came in. At first, it’s scary, but after that, if I continued to stand there, things would just feel awkward. That is how I felt after I died; The horror of the monster was gone, and now, it was just about completing the story.
“Trenches also suffers from a lack of checkpoints.”
Additionally, this game is littered with numerous jump-scares to the point where they break the immersion. Fortunately, the developer did introduce an option that brings the jumpscares down to a minimal amount. On my second playthrough, I tried it and enjoyed it a lot more than my first run. Moments of silence in the game were longer, placing me on the edge of my seat wondering why I still can’t hear that clue. Using the whistle triggers lightning strikes and monster shrieks so that was enough to strike fear in the heart.
Trenches also suffers from a lack of checkpoints. I had found five clues of nine and was rushing to the next when I ran into a dead-end and the monster trapped me. I was fine with dying, but I wasn’t fine with my clue numbers immediately dropping to zero. Although this could add to the horror for some people as each playthrough is challenging, for casual gamers who make mistakes a lot, I can see people quitting after their tenth time being caught.
“Those who wish to buy this game should know how dedicated the developer is to creating an enjoyable experience.”
Those who wish to buy this game should know how dedicated the developer is to creating an enjoyable experience. The game has been constantly updated since July 26, 2021. Adding No Jumpscare mode, bug fixes and even improvements to the AI. So, revisiting Trenches at a later date may be a slightly different experience.
Overall, I had a positive experience, and I recommend this game to anyone looking for a good scare. This is a well-made horror game deserving of your time; Play this with friends or alone for a good Friday night scare.
You can check out Trenches – World War 1 Horror Survival Game on PC via Steam Early Access.