Review: Trine

Review: Trine

Beautiful, graceful, and handsome are all words that generally do not come to my mind when I think of a 2D, side-scrolling platformer. However, my mind was quickly changed after playing Trine.

Trine is filled to the brime with bustling levels and eye-catching visuals that may have you stopping to admire the detail, especially if you are sporting a hot HD monitor/TV. The game clearly adopts a distinctive fairy tale atmosphere as you will be bounding through castles, hacking through enchanted forests, and launching over overgrown, glowing mushrooms. You truly are going to be lost in a very innocent looking childhood memory. Not only does the game look like a fairy tale, it sounds like one too. The games narrator does an excellent job of somehow making you feel like you are 8 years old, tucked into bed, and anxiously hanging on his every word. The visual execution and the narration set the stage for something you can actually sink your teeth into.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

The story revolves around three characters, a thief, a knight, and a mage, who are plunged into the same body when they stumble upon the kingdoms hidden treasure. The story isn’t really anything to write home about, but it does retain many of the same features of a childhood fairy tale. While playing, you ca switch between any of the three characters at any time with the simple press of a button. This all happens on the fly with not even so much as a hic-up to speak of.

The knight is your basic meat shield. He is capable of smashing skeletons with his sword, while the thief shoots arrows and uses her grappling hook to traverse wide gaps. The wizard however, may end up becoming your least favorite character of the bunch. He has a lot of great concepts to him, but they are very difficult to master. He is capable of moving objects telekinetically or conjuring up boxes for use in the games many physics puzzles. He is lacking some immediate attacking skills, but that doesn’t mean he can’t defend himself. Create a box above an enemy and drop it on their head or just drop a box down to buy you some time to switch out to another character.

As you progress through the story, you will encounter a series of puzzles and tasks that require you to assess the situation and figure out the best way to proceed. The neat thing is that there may be more than one way to complete a given task. The knight has no real puzzle solving abilities, unless you count being able to figure out how to smash a skeleton’s teeth through the back of his skull a ‘puzzle solving ability’. The knight will be your main source of offense and buy you plenty of time to figure out the puzzles. The Thief is able to attack enemies but her arrows are rather hard to aim at enemies that are quickly closing in on you. However, you will probably end up just using the grappling hook to clear long distances or raise yourself up to an elevated platform. If you are tired of the thief and the sweet grappling hook, you can always opt to use the wizard and stack up some boxes in the crevasse and totter across that way. The game has no real set way to complete puzzles, except for maybe a few, but even then there is some room for personal variation.

As Deep as a Puddle

Although the characters look and handle great, the combat is so-so. It does feel a bit uninspired at times and can be a bit annoying. I always found myself dreading the mass appearance of skeletons because it meant that I had to switch to knight and go turn their skulls inside out. There is a lot of button mashing in this game when it comes to combat. If you are looking for something with a deep combat and leveling system, look elsewhere. You will not find a great depth of level-ups, and the ones you do find basically upgrade the heroes’ combat abilities. Combat feels a bit forced in this game simply because it occurs so frequently. If they wanted to include this much combat, they should have made the characters a bit more balanced and created a deeper leveling system.

Trudging through the combat is going to yield the best parts of the game, which are certainly worth the trudging. Skeletons and bats aside, you are going to find some incredibly clever and mind bending physics puzzles. This game will have you swinging across gorges while moving giant suspended platforms across beams to land on spinning wheels. Floating platforms are abound in this game, but will require some level manipulation to reach your destination. Now, there is nothing here that is going to cause you to have a brain aneurism, but some of the challenges will have you stumped a bit. The wizard, again, is going to cause a few problems for you as he has a limited supply of energy. If you expend too much of it too early in the level, you may have to return to a previous chapter to replenish your energy. Nothing game breaking, but it can become an annoyance if you absolutely need the wizard to complete the task. Despite the obnoxious wizard issue, the physics are a blast to play around with and you should spend a good amount time experimenting with different ideas on each puzzle.

Three’s Company

Chances are you will play through this game not even noticing that the game has a multi player, which is unfortunate. Because the multiplayer is a ton of fun! You can play with up to 3 players, but that would require three controllers plugged into a PC, or the specific console you are playing on. Each player takes control of a different hero and works together to overcome the puzzles. The game runs smoothly and still looks good, but multiplayer brings with it the game’s biggest issue. As you are plowing through the game with another friend, you can switch characters at will. However, if you accidentally switch to the character your friend is controlling, it will instantly assign your friend to another available one. This could be potentially frustrating if you are issuing a large portion of pain to some skeletons as the knight and your friend decides to press the switch character button and you switch into the wizard. Not cool.

All in all, trine is an unbelievably beautiful game. The lush scenery and backdrops are filled with plenty to look at (I hope you like purple, because there is a lot of it in this game). The gameplay is nothing revolutionary, but it does challenge you to think a bit, which many 2D platformers fail to do these days. I generally try not to rag on the price of a game, but Trine is a smidgeon overpriced on Steam. It rolls in at $29.99, which is far more expensive than the upcoming PS3 adaptation of the game. The game is relatively short too. You can expect to complete it in about 5 hours, but there is a enticement to return for another go with hidden items and the like. If you can find this game cheaper, buy it! Otherwise, take a long hard look at your pocketbook and, if you can justify the high dollars, don’t even think twice. Trine is worth playing.

Pro

  • Stunning visuals
  • Challenging physics based puzzles
  • Intuitive gameplay
  • Comfortable story and setting

Con

  • Shallow battle system
  • Awkward character balancing
  • Multiplayer issues
  • Far too short for the high price

Score: 8.0/10

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