Traumatarium is a randomly generated dungeon crawler made in the style and format of an old-school Game Boy cartridge. It was released on itch.io as a .gb file, which can be downloaded and played in any Gameboy emulator program or can be played in the browser from the itch.io site. For this review, I used Retro-arch, which worked like a charm. It was developed by Eligos Games (Horatiu.nyc).
In Traumatarium, a great evil falls over the land, and the queen calls upon a great, yet comically vain, hero to delve into four dungeons and face its various forms. Simple premise, but this adventure will be a difficult one. It seems to me like a love letter to old-school dungeon crawlers like Wizardry or Shadowgate but doesn’t contain all the party and inventory management that made those games so deep. This game does have charm and style, though.
Traumatarium starts at a crossroads between the dungeons and the town area, which has an inn, item shop, armory, and library. The Inn saves your game and recovers health, the shop has food and recovery items, the library has some basic tutorial advice for you, and the armory provides weapons and armor that will be crucial for your success. Each dungeon has ten randomly generated floors with some kind of encounter, and each may contain monsters to fight, treasure to collect, or health recovery. When you reach each floor, you have an option to interact with the scene or attempt to leave the dungeon to return to the town. Either option can have you caught in a battle, so be prepared.
The gameplay is where Traumatarium will get players to either love or hate this adventure. You bounce back and forth from the dungeons to the town, and if you don’t prepare or have enough gold to purchase items to survive, you’ll start over and over again. I found that I could only enjoy this game in small bursts and got a bit frustrated when really trying to dig in. If there was a mobile option for this game, its simplicity would fit right in as a game you could play with one hand while riding a subway, eating a sandwich, or swinging a sword at real-life trolls with your other hand. I have a lot of respect for the artists involved in developing Traumatarium and can tell that it was a labor of love for the Game Boy hardware.