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Trago Review: An Endless Loop Packed With Creativity

Trago is an intriguing and unique narrative-driven game about four nights in a bar, and one drunk loser’s dawning realisation about the true nature of his friends.

An incredibly simple yet engaging game, you take on the role of Juca, who can be found in the same bar every night, drinking to numb the pain of his girlfriend, Jessica, dumping him. At this bar, he meets two new friends; Joanna, the bartender, and Carlos, Juca’s newfound drinking buddy, who seems more than a little shifty.

The game then takes an incredible turn within the first two minutes, plunging us in medias res. Carlos pulls out a gun, and shoots Juca in the head. The clock then rewinds, starting us from scratch; this time, we have to make different decisions, try to save Juca from this fate.

All the options in this game – whether it’s making phone calls, changing the TV channel, or talking to different patrons – are unlocked by drinking copious amounts of alcohol. However, the clock is running. The bar shuts at ten minutes past midnight. You have to drink fast and hard (and the drinking gets more and more difficult, as there is a mini-game to be completed to down your shot), and make the right choices on the fly.

At first, Trago seems incredibly challenging, seemingly forcing you into an endless loop. But slowly, as you begin to think more creatively and ‘outside the box’, you realise that the patterns can be broken by acquiring more information, and approaching conversations in a different way.

There is a wonderful echo of Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow here, being trapped in a cyclical loop, a commentary on the addictive and trapping nature of alcoholism. However, it also serves to inspire an atmosphere of real dread and tension. As you approach the fated Sunday, where you know Carlos will pull the gun, you start to feel yourself sweating for lack of time. There are four endings to Trago, too, and numerous additional scenes and dialogue options to unlock, so it feels surprisingly full, despite having an incredibly short playtime for a once-through. I actually found myself getting pretty obsessed by this game and its nuances. The story has been elegantly constructed, and its rewarding to find out more about its characters.

On the bad side, there are one or two small glitchy elements where the text showing you the inputs you need to mash to down your shot disappear off screen (they can be recovered), and sometimes, if you start drinking right on the final minute of a scene, it can get stuck in a freeze where the night never ends but you are unable to do anything. You can easily quit, with no progress lost, but it still feels a little janky. However, these are minor polish gripes that don’t really detract from the gameplay.

Trago is very effective, if a little short. I found myself playing and replaying it for 70 minutes straight before I even began to consider giving it a break, which shows that it’s just as addictive as the excessive drinking it portrays.

Trago is available on PC.
Joseph Sale is a novelist, creator of dark twines and a gamer. He loves RPGs, open worlds and survival horrors (the latter of which he used to play in an old shed in his back garden - because apparently Resident Evil wasn't atmospheric enough). He looks out for games with a strong narrative; he's a great believer the very best games long outlive their console, and those are the classics he holds on to.