All Quiet in the Trenches, Reviewed on Linux


All Quiet in the Trenches is a fun and heartbreaking game where a minor wound can escalate into total defeat.


I pressed my squad forward from a protected location to another, soon I was notified by one of my soldiers that this fragile boy, who wants to be a priest, was wounded and stuck in the previous location. Luckily, I could see and reach him, sometimes soldiers get hit doing missions, and it is impossible to find where in the battlefield as you only have a limited view and reach of your surroundings.

I retreated to help the boy, nothing but a bruise, so I pressed forward again. But this time under heavy artillery fire. We managed to make two enemy soldiers into prisoners on our way to the front trenches, one was gravelly wounded, so I stabilized him before asking some of my soldiers to escort them back to camp. I had in my mind this very helpful old lady, who provided us with food in times of shortage, asking me to try to not kill their husbands and sons. An impossible task to do in war, but I put two strong men to the task.

One of them did not reach far back, a friendly artillery shell hits nearby, instantly killing the prisoner and gravelly wounding this young man, with wishes to work in the movie industry once our tour is over.

I saw another duo of enemy soldiers nearby. One trying to give first aid to the other. Predicting I could get flanked if they get healed, I left my best soldier behind to take care of the actor and moved the rest to make more prisoners. It is weird to say the best, he looks too young to be in the army, not even a fuzz on his face, but he is an attentive and dexterous soldier, and a witty young man. If he were older, he would be in my shoes. By now he already proved to be invaluable, in both battle and camp services.

Now we are in the forward trenches, in one of the position the Lieutenant asked us to defend. I see other friendly squads taking places nearby, while the enemy retreat. That gives us a bit of respite. The witty young man and the actor regroup with us.

As I saw the first escort coming back, I sent two more prisoners to camp. The artillery has become more intense. The little priest was not so lucky, a shell hit nearby, his fragile constitution didn’t help, he collapsed onto the floor bleeding. The actor tries to stabilize the boy’s wounds. And, as if he were waiting for his friend to be taken care of, the witty soldier takes a knee. He was also injured by the artillery and the wound was bad, he could not keep the appearances anymore.

The first escort is back and quickly understands the situation, rushing back to the field hospital to get a stretcher. It is difficult to stabilize the boy. But I see another of the escorts is coming back. That would help a lot.

He arrives in a panic. Not making any sense, and nothing I tried helped. I cannot imagine what he went through. As other soldiers’ lives were in immediate danger, I could not do anything to help him, but I am glad he is back.

Soon after, we received the orders from the Lieutenant to retreat. Too late as always. By now, the Lieutenant showed no tactical skills or abilities required for his rank. He would take out his frustrations on my squad and hold grudges for petty things. During our camp staying, instead of letting my men rest, he overworked them with menial tasks, just because we did not trade our canned meat for stale bread when the officials overate their food.

“Canned meat” I think while I see my men perishing in the ground while being surrounded by enemy troops.


The story above happened in one of my incursions to the front lines of All Quiet in the Trenches, a turn-based strategy game developed and published by Totally Not Aliens, heavily inspired by All Quiet on the Western Front.

You play as a German Unteroffizier(junior non-commissioned officer) during the first World War, starting in 1915. You need to lead a group of soldiers through the war, currently until your first leave, but the roadmap states they will go until the end of the war.

From a top view of the battlefield, you can assign your soldiers to the tasks displayed on the left of the screen, the kind of tasks available depends on the phase of the game. You can either drag their portrait to the task or click on the task and select people apt to the work. You can also click on them to check their card, it lists their skills and attributes, or to initiate a conversation where you can learn more about their lives, reward or punish them. Once you are satisfied with the assignments, you can pass your turn.

The soldiers are unique, each with its own backstory and attributes. Someone with medical skills will help stabilize and heal another soldier faster, while someone compassionate and social might handle prisoners more humanely.

You can also interact with your Lieutenant and a couple of other people. The way you can interact depends on the phase. The game alternates between three strategic phases: camp life, trench life, and trench combat.

During the trench life you need to maintain the trench by fixing damages, refilling the ammo and food. Eventually, your soldiers will come with ideas for a recon mission or the Lieutenant with orders that you need to fulfill. Tasks in the trenches pose a risk to your soldiers, you might be under artillery or an enemy sniper might be nearby. Failed tasks can bring dire consequences right away, like a soldier getting injured, or in the long term like the ego of the Lt. bring bruised, making your life harder in the long run. Trench life turns take one day.

If you are lucky, you might not see any fight during your trench life, but luck does not seem to be present in this game, so get ready for many combats. The goal will change depending on the orders you get.

During one combat, I was first ordered to push forward and drive the enemy out of that position. On completion, I received orders to hold the position. I am not sure if it was scripted, or if it was part of the game, but with the fall of nearby allies squads, mostly to friendly artillery fire as one of my soldiers complained, I was ordered to retreat.

The tasks change to combative options during this phase, like moving through the covers, or providing cover fire to your men doing tasks or other squads. If you have a grenade, you have an option to throw it when you are close enough. If you are low on supplies, you can scavenge the battlefield. You can help an injured ally, or carry him back to the camp hospital. You can also make prisoners and scout them back. Turns here are just an instant in the war.

After some time in the trenches, you go back to the camp life for a deserved rest and proper meal away from the trenches. The problem is the chaos back in camp, you need to deal with rat infestation, crowded hospitals, full latrines and the Lt. whims.

During the whole game, you are trying to find a balance between your soldiers’ health and morale, and the Lt. prestige. A soldier will execute better their tasks if highly motivated and well rested, and might fall asleep during a task if tired or collapse if overworked. With a low prestige, you will need to deal with the Lt. pettiness, doing mindless tasks that just tires your soldiers and threatens the balance in the camp.

The major entities in the camp are the Lt., the logistics official, the nurse, the cook, and the lady from the nearby village. You can also talk to your men. They will often give you some tasks that can be beneficial, but will prevent your soldiers from resting. Too much work and your soldiers can pass out. Besides regular tasks, you can also offer to do extra work for some rewards.

The Lt. will give tasks like patrolling the village, if you send some compassionate soldier you can minimize the damage to the reputation with the villagers. If your prestige is too low, he will add extra tasks like digging ditches or doing laundry. Doing extra work for him will increase your prestige level.

The logistics official asks for some help with less exhaustive tasks but nonetheless important, like making sure the papers are in order or helping move some stuff. You can also come to him when your camp needs food. Keep things in order, and you will make sure to always have food when you need. Eventually, he will come to you when the officials do some bad things, like misusing resources, and he needs your help to keep them happy.

In the hospital you can talk to the nurse, if the hospital is full, you can offer some of your men to help. A full hospital will not give your men the attention they need if they get hurt. Also, when your men are badly hurt during the trench phases, sometimes you need to assign another soldier to help take care of them.

The cook allows you to change the food quantity your soldiers receive, I never had the heart to use less than double the rations, but you need to pay attention to a few things. Check with the logistics official if the shipments are on time, if not, you might have to ask for some favours that can hit your prestige level. Also, on the turn you are notified about a rat infestation, you must handle it right away, if you fail, the food supplies go bad fast.

Last, the village lady. She usually does not ask for anything, but if your men behave well when visiting the village, you increase your standing with the villagers. You can also offer to help with their farms. As a result, you might get some food from them during shortages, and they can also help you with the laundry task.

During those phases, you are also presented with some events in the form of your journal, where you need to pick an action that can affect your squad and superiors. Those journal events also help develop a bit of the story of each of your squad members.

Having your squad well rested and feed during the camp phase increases considerably your chances of survival during the trench phases, so is having a working hospital and logistics, and having a Lt. not trying to sabotage you. The camp phase turns take more than a week (12 days, I think).

The current early access ends once you receive your first leave. That can vary a lot depending on your play style and how much you understand of the game. There are also some random events that can extend the time you spend in the front line, or force you to have some incursions. My last attempt took about 4 hours, and I think it was enough for the current amount of good and bad things in the game.

While assigning soldiers was easier, everything else was quite hidden and annoying because of the hard navigation. Some features I was not aware of until my second or third run. For example, during the camp phase, your camera is locked in a place, and you need to rotate the camera to the right angle to find the important locations (village, hospital, etc…), you click there, and the camera will move. Then you need to click on the character to initiate a conversation, many options will show, like asking for favours or helping with extra tasks. The same goes in the trench fight, if you rotate the camera, you will see more places to go and actions to take that are not so obvious.

Technical Aspects

I tested both Native and Proton, the performance was not great during some cutscenes and between turns, during the less crowded trench life I could get up to 90 FPS, but I experienced drops to 7 FPS during busy moments. During my tests I noticed that sometimes Native would not load audio, restarting Steam seems to resolve the problem temporally.

My PC configuration: AMD CPU 2700x, GPU 2080 TI, 32MB RAM and M.2 SSD, running NobaraOS and monitor 3440x1440. I had similar and worse problems with Unity3D engine games in the past.

The game does not seem to use the recommended Steam save location, as the progress would not be shared between Proton and Native. Lastly, there is no controller support, but Steam will offer to translate keyboard and mouse input, the same for Steam Deck.

On Steam Deck OLED the game looks great. I did not have the problem with the save location. I could access the same save files from both Native and Proton. There is no cloud save. I had similar problems with performance, with a maximum of 75 FPS. I experienced different problems with audio, while using headphone jack the game audio would come through the speakers with Native build, the problem was not present with Proton.

Despite all the problems I had with the early access, the game has the right “feeling” to it. I cared for and developed bonds with the people, specially my soldiers. I felt like a junior NCO, evaluating the risks and tasks, having to carry the weight of my decisions. Not only that, but I was really immersed in the role play during all my attempts, and I felt like sharing one of those stories would say more about the game than any technical analysis I could write later.

The game is in Early Access on Steam, and if they come through with the roadmap it will be an easy recommendation.