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Video Game / Trenches (2021)

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Somewhere In The Trenches, 1917.

Trenches is a World War I Survival Horror Video Game by Steelkrill Studio (solo self-taught developer Ryan Portelli).

World War I. 1917. One soldier has found himself behind enemy lines, deep in the trenches. All he wants is to finally go home to his family. First, he needs to get out of there.

However, he isn't alone. There are others in the trenches with him, and their intentions for him are not noble. He'll need to use his wits to evade these monstrosities and escape from the trenches alive.

The game was released on July 19th, 2021.

Trenches contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • It's unclear whether the monster chasing you is real or exists solely in your head. On the one hand, it's definitely a threat as it can and will kill you if it ever gets its mitts on you. On the other hand, there's no mention of the creature at all at the end of the game, indicating the soldier may have been hallucinating it the entire time.
    • It's also unclear whether the events are happening in the trenches in 1917, or in the protagonist's head in 1918/1919 as he kills his family and then himself. Much of the imagery you encounter is very on-the-nose suggesting the latter, but if you die to the monster the ending says that the protagonist died in the trenches and his body was found after a few weeks, which would indicate the former.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Like all good horror games, this has them. In this case, in the form of letters from soldiers before you, as well as photos with names and units on them.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Before the first locked door, you come across a door with "Herzlich Willkommen"note  written on the side. Shame the monster is giving us the welcome, though...
  • Checkpoint Starvation: The game only has a single checkpoint, which saves near the beginning and is only to let you skip the story-only 5-10 minute intro trench if you die. You have to find all 9 dolls in one go to beat the game.
  • Creepy Doll: There are 9 of them scattered throughout the trenches. The main goal of the game involves following the sound of their crying and collecting them, which will lead you to the exit.
  • Downer Ending: If the soldier successfully escapes the trenches and makes it back home alive, what happened to him in the trenches will linger with him and in a couple years he'll shoot his two children, chop off his pregnant wife's arms and head, then shoot himself.
  • First-Person Ghost: Subverted. Unlike some horror games, your character does indeed have a body as you'll see your legs and torso when you look down.
  • Free-Sample Plot Coupon: The first doll is found at the very beginning of the maze of trenches, and the monster doesn't appear until you find and pick up the second doll. As a result you only have to find 7 dolls while being hunted by the monster.
  • Guide Dang It!: Once you enter the maze proper, the map, pistol, and wirecutters are all very close to the starting position, but you'd need to know where they were from prior experience to actually choose the correct path to get them.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The monster chasing you throughout the trenches gives out demonic, warped noises if it's near you. It can even speak in the voices of your loved ones, as one of the messages written on the walls indicates. Sure enough, if it lingers around you while you're in a hiding spot, it'll speak in a child's voice begging you for help.
  • The Hero Dies: Even if the protagonist survives and makes it out of the trenches, due to crippling PTSD he kills his family and then himself.
  • I Am a Humanitarian: One of the notes you'll find recounts a soldier mentioning he saw enemy soldiers eating the corpse of a woman. You later find a headless, armless corpse with forks in it, which turns out to be a preview of the thing that spends the entire game chasing you (when you leave the corpse, you'll heard a slithering sound behind you, and if you go back you'll find it has vanished and left a trail of blood leading up a wall and into the section of the trenches through which it'll hunt you later). According to a document lying next to the damn thing, the monster used to be a ''nurse''.
  • Immune to Bullets: You can find a Luger pistol that a soldier used to commit suicide. It has 5 rounds left in it, and can be used as a weapon. It can't kill the monster, but being shot will slow it down slightly for a short time, giving you a better chance at running away.
  • Invincible Boogeymen: The monster can't be killed, even by emptying all 5 rounds from your pistol into it, and it wanders the trenches relentlessly searching for you.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle: The first door you come across requires a key. Thankfully it's the only one; if your progress is barred, you'll likely have to cut a way forward with some wire cutters.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The game is this due to the random spawning of the dolls. All of them can spawn on opposite sides of the map from each other when you pick them up, making the game incredibly difficult, or several can spawn close to each other, letting you progress much more quickly.
  • One-Word Title: Exactly What It Says on the Tin. "Trenches" takes place in the trenches somewhere during the midst of World War I.
  • Nintendo Hard: The game is very difficult, as you have to navigate a very sprawling and disjointed maze of trenches while being hunted by a highly aggressive and aware monster. The randomly generated dolls you're trying to find can be very hard to locate, and the fact you have to start all over again whenever you get killed can be very frustrating. Additionally, your position is realistically not specifically marked on the map, so you need to figure out where you are based on the general shape of the maze areas you've traveled.
  • P.O.V. Cam: The game is viewed entirely in first-person.
  • Roaming Enemy: The monster roams the maze of trenches you're in, and will home in on any noises you make, such as walking on solid wood floorboards or using the whistle to try and locate the dolls.
  • Sanity Slippage: Between the hellish nightmare of World War I and whatever the hell is chasing you in the trenches, suffice to say the soldier does not go through the ordeal mentally intact, often hallucinating a woman screaming as she rushes past you, a disembodied voice saying its right next to you, and at one point your vision turning red and seeing the hallway littered with corpses. Unfortunately, returning home alive does nothing to help you as the soldier commits murder-suicide, killing his children, wife, their unborn child, and finally himself.
  • Was Once a Man: The shambling, headless creature that chases you throughout the entire game was a medical nurse, who ended up being carved up and eaten by enemy soldiers.