1916 is a German based game and as such, any in-game writing is in German so I can't comment on what I presume to be some kind of story that can be found within the game. Another disclaimer here is that after playing for about 30-45 minutes I felt I'd gotten the gist of things and "cheated" by watching a complete let's play on youtube to see the last third of the game or so.
The basic setting here is that you're inside a German Trench during WW1 and you have to find the ladder to escape. Escape from what you ask? Well the enemy comes in the form of what appears to be robotic dinosaurs. I know this sounds silly, but don't give up on this game just yet. Some people are saying the dinosaurs are metaphors for the attrocities of war and such, and I think they're probably right but I found that to be a bit of a stretch all the same. The important thing here is that they play the role of the "big bad" and you'll want to be avoiding them as you head for the ladder. Without going into too much detail you'll want to sneak past or distract them because they can (and in my case did multiple times) kill you with a couple bites.
By far and away, the theoretical selling point of this game has to be it's atmosphere. The monochromatic visuals are seen through a layer of film grain, and whilst I was expecting it to be cheesy and overdone, it's actually very effective. Combined with the ambient sound effects it genuinely creates a sense of tension and dread. I'd advise trying out this game just to experience the atmosphere firsthand. You can get a good feel of it without having to get too far along in the "story". You could always just check out a video but it won't do it justice.
The actual game is quite hard but also quite short. If for some odd reason you wanted to speedrun it, you could probably do it in 10 minutes without too much issue. My guess at a blind playthrough (probably take more than 1 attempt) would be more around the 30-60 minute mark. Gameplay is pretty basic and feels secondary to the atmosphere, and this is pretty much where my main point comes into it.
You may have been wondering why the blog title was actually a question, well here's the reason. As a Survival Horror game this felt flat and I didn't particularly enjoy playing it, but as a Survival Horror experience i found it to be worth my time That might sound a little hypocritical but hear me out. The atmosphere of the game was enough to grab my interest on it's own. I don't want to get into the whole "video games as art" argument but, well, you can see where I'm heading here. As far as I can tell this game is geared around showing the futility of war. The gun in this game is pretty pointless (I learnt this the hard way) and the only way to really survive is to run, hide and get lucky. The tension and the fear may be based around being chased by the dinosaurs but in reality you're just running from death, or maybe even from war itself. as an aside I feel like dinosaurs weren't the best choice but I can't think of anything better either. I'm not particularly comfortable talking about art in any form, but in this case it's fairly obvious what it's going for, and in my experience it got the point across well. The actual gameplay feels like it exists, only to give the atmosphere an interactive context. It's a tool for you to navigate the experience, rather than being the entire focus, and I'm okay with that.
In summary I'd recommend this to anyone looking for an interesting experience (here I go again), however, if you're looking for a survival horror game you may be better off looking elsewhere. With a pricetag of 0 you don't really have too much to lose so if you're even a bit interested you may as well give it a go. All I ask is that if you dislike it as a game, please think twice before giving it a terrible rating. Whatever 1916 is, it's well done and deserves recognition in its own way.
Rating: Given the nature of the "game" it's difficult to rate but I gave it an 8. The experience is good but it can be frustrating to replay as there's no checkpoints, not too much direction and surviving can be quite hard. Then again, considering what this is, maybe that's part of the point.