Trenches is pitched to us as a horror title set in the trenches of WW1 as we try to escape an unknown terror and survive another day. In premise, not a bad set-up. In practice? Well, it doesn’t quite hold up in almost any regard.
The first thing that soured our time with Trenches were the controls. The dead zones for the sticks are way too high, meaning the simple act of looking around is a chore, while trying to correctly line up the cursor to interact with an object is far too frustrating. We’re supposed to spend a lot of our time sneaking around carefully but having to use such a binary-feeling control scheme is about the only scary thing here.
It’s not long before the visuals grate on us too. Official screens look decent, and perhaps on PC where we’d have more flexibility we could get the same results, but even on a Series X this looks awful. We can live with sub-par textures and models, but the excessive use of fog means we can barely see a few feet in front of us; the trenches are a maze of dead ends as it is, we don’t need the extra help to get lost. Of course, this is likely the point of it, but if they were trying to up the tension then that goal has been failed as it’s just annoying more than anything.
On top of these issues, the simple gameplay conceit is something that is tried and true but not all that interesting; much in the vein of Slenderman, we’re tasked with skulking about the trenches in order to find nine crying foetus dolls before escaping. A monster tracks our movements at every turn, and so we must evade them or else face a (pretty tame) death and a restart. Again, a fine enough – if unoriginal – idea, but it’s the execution that fails here.
The monster can be heard stomping about, but it seems to be able to close the gap between us faster than we can run at times. There are hiding spots around the trenches, but these are so few and far between that they are all but useless. We can use a whistle to help us locate the next doll, which amplifies the crying noise they are making, though this alerts the monster to our location as well. Any time we tried to use it without having a hiding spot to immediately jump into ended in failure.
There are items to find, such as a gun or snippers, to help us out and explore further into the trenches. Not that we felt much inclination to explore further as on top of the awkward controls and visuals, Trenches is just not that fun to play. Clearly aimed at the YouTube-reaction crowd, this hasn’t got the same gusto behind it as titles like Slenderman or Outlast to make it fun to watch even. There are plentiful jump scares to try and throw us off – well, more like cheap tactics to try and get a rise out of players. These range from distant movement in the fog to a literal monster hand covering our vision for a few seconds before vanishing. The simplistic nature of these meant they were an annoyance more than a fright. Also, it was a bad idea to have the character slowly blink every 20 seconds or so. This only served to make the dull reactions of the analogue sticks even more pronounced and is just generally annoying more than anything.
We are made aware at the games loading that this is the work of a single developer at Steelkrill, and while we kept this in mind while playing, the fact remains that this is simply not a good game.
While the premise is decent enough, Trenches falls at every hurdle in trying to make a game worth recommending.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.