The horror game Post Trauma, developed by RED SOUL GAMES and published by Raw Fury, is one of the games I got to go hands-on with while I was at Gamescom 2023 from August 23rd to August 27th. What I played was a demo build that’s clearly in need of more polish before the eventual release, but nevertheless, it showed potential and gave me an idea of what to expect from the finished game.
Post Trauma harkens back to the origins of the survival horror genre by utilizing fixed camera perspectives. This makes perfect sense for the horror genre. It’s all about the right balance between showing and hiding information, and fixed cameras make that all the easier. It also allows for some great compositions that a game with a free camera controlled by the player might struggle with.
One such example that comes to mind is when you enter a door, and the camera is waiting for you on the other side of the room. Right in front of it a deformed body dominating the frame, making it immediately obvious what you’ll need to do here. And so the fixed camera perspectives, and the carefully arranged compositions that come with it, aren’t just there to be pretty, but they also help with guiding the player and making sure the focus of attention is on the right objects.
Any guidance you can get, you’ll want, as Post Trauma isn’t a game that’s particularly interested in holding the players’ hand while you uncover its dark hallways. You want to look at the map? Well, then find a map that’s naturally a part of the environment somewhere. You want to know what to do next? Look at what’s in your inventory. Look at interactable objects in your surroundings and think about what you might need to advance here. Read signs, notes, files, or whatever you else find around you, and see if they give you a hint.
The level I played – and yes, from what I understood, Post Trauma will be a level-based game – was a hospital level. A staple of the horror genre. What became obvious quickly, and the developer sitting next to me happily confirmed that, is that the focus of Post Trauma are the puzzles. Every level represents a sort of escape room with a plethora of obstacles you have to overcome in the right order. Some stuff is simple. A door is locked, you find a key, you open the door. Some stuff a little more out there. Like transfusing the right blood type to a patient, or using infected blood and mixing it with certain chemicals to create a special acid you need. There are also plenty of codes you’ll have to figure out, and little riddles to solve. The puzzles are a good balance of not immediately obvious, but also not so difficult that you feel cheated when you figure out the solution. It’s what you want from your survival horror puzzles.
While puzzles are the focus, combat decidedly isn’t. It’s still very much present though, despite it sadly not being particularly good. It’s serviceable, I suppose? But barely. I felt like I was just swinging at my enemy, hoping for the best. What did peak my interest though, was something the dev mentioned to me. Apparently, most enemies will only be used once (with a few exceptions), making for constantly evolving encounters that are different every time you come across a new one. If the designs of each individual enemy will be able to deliver despite that has yet to be seen, and if the combat fundamentally doesn’t work, then that probably won’t save it either, but it’s something I’m certainly intrigued by.
Visually, the enemy designs are great though. The art direction in general is pretty great. There’s a streak of cosmic horror going through every horrific encounter, may that be an enemy or a strange anomaly in the environment. What I played of Post Trauma didn’t dive into the full weirdness yet, but I could feel it lurking underneath the surface and got to see glimpses of it.
Post Trauma is a game that still has some ways to go. That much is clear, but it shows a lot of promise. In particular, the art direction, atmosphere, and puzzles have me hopeful, while the combat is my main point of concern right now.
Post Trauma is set to release in Spring 2024, and will release on PC, as well as Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series.