We got to see a ton of great games at The Game Awards, with some heavy hitters coming out of nowhere. We were spoiled for choice.
However, as a fan of scares, I noticed a lack of horror games present, that is, until I saw the trailer for the Post Trauma psychological horror survival game. In this we can see a gentleman navigating what appears to be a forgotten and decaying subway system. Throughout this journey there are cosmically hideous entities; monsters with tentacles attached to the walls, corridors full of blood and some kind of vegetation covered in meat.
There is also a playable demo available on itch.io, and a newer demo is expected to hit Steam very soon. The demo I saw was the oldest on itch.io, and while there were certainly threads matching the horror seen in the trailer, I felt something was missing. Don't get me wrong, it's not a walk in the park, but it also doesn't look as scary as it should.
long rides on the subway
If you need to progress, this game is for you. The itch.io demo contained a lot of walkthroughs. Slowly stumbling into a strange abandoned underground is unnerving, but the lack of weird and scary encounters made me feel like a lost tourist rather than someone trapped in a horror game.
Post Trauma left me wondering if I was too stupid to be scared in psychological horror.
The monsters that inhabit this underground space were sadly timid or made to be hit over the head with an axe. In any case, I never felt threatened by them. There were also gory or goofy staves that thought they needed to do more. Taking something from a decrepit hand surrounded by a pentagram lost its horror when I realized they were glorified shelves.
However, it was not all bad. The highlight was the camera angles. I like a good third person horror game. They're also incredibly hot with third-person updates to Resident Evil Village and the upcoming Silent Hill 2 remake returning to its third-person roots. But Post Trauma took them to the next level. With fixed camera angles from different angles, it highlights the emptiness of this subway and the lack of agency you have when you wander around corners not knowing what to expect.
Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to raise my blood pressure. While I enjoyed the fixed third-person camera angles, much of Post Trauma left me wondering if I was too dumb to be scared in psychological horror games. The monsters, while grotesque, sounded dull, and the creepy audio quickly became a regular background noise for me.
(Image credit: Raw Fury)
Although this is just an early demo and trailer, I think I know where Raw Fury is trying to take Post Trauma; I'm getting some serious Silent Hill 2 vibes. I hope you understand what made this title so iconic. For me, it must have been the constant, relentless feeling of dread.
The Silent Hill franchise can have its ups and downs, but we can all agree that each game's sound design and monsters are something to admire or avoid depending on whether you're a horror fan. To this day, the sound of Pyramid Head's giant jagged sword scraping across the concrete floors still fills me with fear. This ruthless creature is one of the deepest and most disturbing monsters I have come across. The only thing worse than seeing it right in front of you was not knowing where it was. I constantly felt myself looking over my shoulder, waiting to see his metal head emerge from the shadows or mist.
I can see Post Trauma trying to figure this out, it uses grotesque enemies and weird sounds scattered throughout the demo, but it misses one thing; it is consistency that creates fear.
Right at the beginning of Silent Hill 2, the game explains why you need to connect a sound to a hideous-looking monster. This audio queue could be the difference between life and death. Once that link is found, Silent Hill spends the rest of the game playing with you. This creates a masterful sense of dread.
(Image credit: Raw Fury)
There's no point in hearing strange noises and seeing random strange things, even if they're hidden metaphors for your protagonist's state of mind. The game has to show you why that means business and why you have to start running for the hills as soon as you hear a certain sound and then constantly remind yourself who the real boss is.
Fortunately, there is plenty of time for Post Trauma to deal with it. As it stands now, with the great camera angles and location, I'm still holding out hope that this horror game will join those hiding me in storage cabinets and making me physically sick.