October is always an appropriate time to explore the crossroads of history and horror. While it may seem disrespectful, in a way, to connect a genre that’s full of frights and scares to the events of the past, history is often terrifying in its own way. And it’s from the horrors of days past that developers like Steelkrill Studio find inspiration for games like Trenches, a horror experience that takes players behind enemy lines as a German soldier during World War I.
Despite being set in the midst of war, players won’t be exchanging bullets with undead soldiers. Trenches is a game of exploration and discovery, where supernatural forces assault your senses as you collect clues to help you escape this historical nightmare. Randomized clue locations, a hiding mechanic, and an enemy that’s always listening amp up the horror while authentic trenches and period-specific implements like the trench whistle help ground the game in the early 20th-century conflict.
While some historical horror games go over the top, Trenches delivers a story that could resonate with soldiers of The Great War. We won’t delve deep into spoilers, as the ending will leave you pondering just how close to reality the game really is.
Intrigued about the idea of a horror game that takes place primarily in the trenches of a World War I battlefield, we reached out to the sole developer at Steelkrill, Ryan, more a little more insight into developing Trenches.
Epoch XP: Was ‘Trenches’ always intended to be set in a historical period, or did that come later in development?
Trenches was originally intended to be an action zombie game based in the trenches of WW1, to be honest, as that was the main idea. It was a small side project in which I wanted to re-create a [Call of Duty]: Zombies type mode. However, while creating the environment, it occurred to me that it would be the perfect layout for a horror game instead, as war itself is already terrifying, and that is when it was changed from an action zombie game to a horror game. However, as a game in general, it was always intended to be set in the historical period, yes.
What was the inspiration to choose a historical period for a horror story? Was there a reason you chose World War I?
I have grown to really love history since I was a child. I would sit for hours listening to old stories being told by my grandparents, and those are moments I treasure forever. I would always ask questions that led me deeper into their story and I remember often asking my grandmother to tell me her grandmother’s stories. This means that those were dated back to the 1910s, which was around the time of the First World War. It really fascinated me, and I always loved reading stories about WW1 and how brutal it was, especially for soldiers in the Trenches.
However, the biggest inspiration to work on this game came after seeing the awesome movie 1917. As a history fan, I do think that WW1 is very underused in video games, especially as we see these World War II games and movies around, but very little about WW1 and just how brutal it was.
Were there any unexpected challenges in recreating a World War I setting for ‘Trenches’?
I like challenges! However, I don’t think there were any. The only thing I can think of is that since it was a different time period, I was limited to what I could add and had to research into assets beforehand to ensure the models matched the period. For example, I remember I made a radio at the start, but later realized that radios were not used for music back in those times, but rather for communications. I definitely wanted to put some music in Trenches, so I had to turn to the phonograph instead. I would not call these challenges, though, because I loved reading and learning more about this era!
Do you have any upcoming projects you want to tease or hint at?
I do! Currently, I am working on a new horror game. However, its development is still early and put on hold for now till Trenches hit its final release since it’s still in Early Access.
Trenches is currently available in Early Access on Steam for the reasonable price of $9.99. If you’re looking for an effective horror title, it is absolutely worth the money. The fact that there’s a historical connection just makes the title that much more appealing.