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Amazing and Captivating!

  • Waxius
  • 04/20/2018 05:54 PM
Traum - by Ruskatuli

Story - Lehkeri
Lead Developer - Skyforger
Art - Perhoslapsi
Music - Zoikkis
Level Design - Masentaja

First Thoughts:
Wow! This is the first time I've given a full 5-star rating in my reviews. I was waiting for a game that exceeds expectations and Traum has done it in every category. From the title screen to one of it's multiple endings, Traum had me on the edge of my seat, not wanting to quit until I reached the conclusion to this tragic and heart wrenching story. The graphics are superb and the music is sad, thrilling, and engaging! The gameplay and story telling techniques are wonderfully designed and the pacing kept me glued to the game! Choices DO matter, so I will most certainly record another play-through and maybe I'll a different ending.

You play as Mike Smalling, a loving husband. Mike seems to have it all: A good job, a wife, a new house. What could go wrong? Everything was great until you received a bit of tragic news. What happens after that is for you to discover and unfold as you explore Mike's office, his home, and other buildings. In his current situation, Mike's wife Irma has left him to be alone for a while, he's floundering at work and incurring the anger of his boss, and none of his co-workers like him very much.

When an accident occurs... Mike is transported into a surrealistic nightmare of epic proportions. He is soon unable to tell what is real and what isn't. He desperately tries to remember the past that led him here, but can he even trust his own memories?
Did Irma cheat on him? Was it with his boss, or his friend Chris? Where is she now and why won't his phone charge?

These questions are all answered throughout the course of the game, but, you have to make choices on your own that will affect the outcome.

Will Mike get some answers, or will he descend into madness?

Game Play:
Traum is exploration and story driven. There are no battles or monsters to fight, but the game is relentless in suspense and scary moments. When you get close to an object you can inspect, an EYE icon will appear over it. If it's something you can pick up or manipulate, a HAND icon will appear. At the very beginning, you'll wan to inspect everything: plants, desks, water coolers, coffee machines, and file cabinets. When the game progresses and the tension has been ratcheted up, you cannot examine these objects. It makes sense, as you wouldn't stop to look at plants when you are being chased by ghosts or there's bloody footprints appearing before you.

The level design is such that you really can't get lost for very long. If you're not sure what to do, press "O" on the keyboard to see your objectives. Otherwise, each scene practically drives itself and you have a tiny bit of freedom to go where you want and explore within the confines of the scene. While you visit and revisit the office, the house, the backyard, and the hospital repeatedly, it is very different each time, as memories, flashbacks, and surreal events take place.

At several points in the game, you are asked choices. Do you want to take your resignation letter with you? Do you want to turn it in? Do you want your wife to accompany you into the doctor's office?. These choices affect the game's outcome, though I don't know how just yet. I tried playing in an "unselfish" way, but I still think I reached a "bad" ending. Only time will tell if that are better or worse endings than the one I had:


The choices I remember making in this play-through were:
1.Take the resignation letter with you.
2.Keep the resignation letter (do not turn it in).
3.Have Irma come with you into the doctor's office.
4.Do not throw the switch to have either Chris or Irma killed.
5.Kill Yourself (instead of shooting Irma's Ghost)
(there may have been other choices that I cannot remember at this time)

The outcome: Mike commits suicide with a rifle. His final thought is holding hands with Irma. In reality however, Mike has killed Irma some time ago and buried her in the backyard. He was hit by a yellow car belonging to Irma's sister and she was arrested on sight. Mike was killed on impact and the entire game took place in his mind before he died.

Graphics, Music, and Atmosphere:
Traum has custom graphics with amazing character busts. Mike, Irma, Chris, the doctor, and the boss all have a variety of emotional expressions and postures. The animations for Mike's walking sprite is well done. He drinks water, coffee, squeezes through tight spaces, etc. I rarely talk about lighting effects, well because most games don't have them. Traum however, has dark scenes where flashlights are required, and sometimes the lights just go out without warning.

The music is amazing. I lingered on the title screen just to hear it all before pressing start. It all serves to drive the impact of the scenes and bring on the tension when necessary. The sound effects are awesome and eerie, particularly the sounds of a baby crying, electric shock, glass breaking, drinking water, and more.

Overall, Traum is an experience that mature players must have. It contains sexual overtones and themes, domestic violence, suicide, blood, and horror elements. The game can be completed in about 2 hours if you spend a moderate amount of time examine all objects around you. From my experience, Traum was an amazing story that I will repeat again, and hopefully get a happier ending for Mike.

I highly recommend downloading and playing Traum today!