Frozenbyte’s latest creation, Trine, is an action platform game mixed with a heavy dose of puzzle solving. Just a couple flicks of a wand, a swing from a grappling hook, and a destructive hit with a sledgehammer are just a handful of ways of solving many of the challenges presented within the game.
Aside from the solid mechanics, the game presents a complex storyline told through many artistically draw cut scenes and a deep calming voice. Similarly, the beautiful scenery set the tone for a magical journey.
The story begins when an undead army marches toward the castle. With all defensive personnel fighting against the enemy, the treasures of the castle are left unguarded. Zoya, the thief, sees this as an opportunity to seize an ancient object of great value. In the fright of chaos, the game switches to Amadeus, the wizard, where he runs into the thief as he tries to escape, and finally, left as the last defender of the castle, Pontius, the knight, runs out to battle against the undead when he collides into both the wizard and the thief.
Within the treasure room, the artifact, the thief had been seeking, turns out to be the Trine, which binds the three protagonists’ souls and transposes them into the catacombs of the Astral Academy. From the underbelly of the catacombs, it is up to the player to utilize all three characters to fight off the undead and return safely to the castle.
The player assumes the role of all three characters and has to utilize each of their skills to progress from level to level. The thief shoots arrows and uses a grappling hook to swing from platform to platform, the knight uses a sword and shield and can knock down walls with a heavy sledge hammer, and the wizard can conjure and move around various objects to progress past many different obstacles. Initially, the controls may be difficult to grasp, but overtime, players will eventually get a strong feel for how the physics of the game operate. For example, players may find it difficult to conjure boxes and planks from the wizard, but players will quickly learn that his skills are quite detrimental to your progress. Overall, the mechanics are quite solid.
What really stands out about the game play are the many different ways to progress forward. Because of the physics and the multitude of tools at a player’s dispense, there are usually multiple ways to progress past the various obstacles. For example, when a player comes to a high ledge, you can either use the thief’s grappling hook to hoist the character up, or you can stack a series of boxes using the wizard’s conjure ability. The possibilities are endless.
Likewise, when a player goes out of his or her way to collect a handful of green experience vials or fights off an onslaught of undead raiders, the player is rewarded with item pick ups and a level boost. When a new level is gained, the player is granted points that are used to level up existing abilities. For example, when the thief levels up, you can spend her points to add arrows to each of her shots. Instead of one arrow being shot, players can level the bow to shoot three arrows, which will quickly kill off Undead enemies.
A large portion of the fun is adding a friend or two to the mix. Players may not be accustomed to playing with controllers on the PC, but it is a worthwhile investment. Much of the fun is assuring that you and your friends can make it past each of the obstacles despite each of the characters’ downsides. What may seem like a simple swing across a pit with the thief, getting the knight across the same gap may turn into a daunting enigma (assuming you play the game the way it is intended).
Much of the fun comes from working with your friends to get everyone to the end of the level. My only plight with the local co-op is the option is hidden in the game’s controller menu. I had no idea the game was a multi-player adventure until the editors told me about it.
Aside from the well designed mechanics and the various tools, the game does feel a bit too straightforward at times. Players will progress from level to level presented with different problems in the same manner. Undead enemies will continually respawn until all have been killed off and leaping and bounding over spikes, lava, ledges, platforms, etc. are pretty much all the game is made up of. Although it is entertaining, the game is missing an element that delivers a variance in style or fails to really challenge a player.
The graphics are truly the key to the aesthetic beauty within the game. The serene backdrops, the glimmering lights, and the well done character animations are just a few of the graphical elements that really add to the Trine experience. Instead of using FMV sequences, the developers cleverly used artistically drawn cut-scenes to tell the story of our three heroes. It deeply adds to the artistic value behind the video game industry.
Similarly, the sounds are very well done. Although the sound effects serve their purpose, the music delivers a calming and enjoyable experience that is appropriate to the style of the game. Also, the voice overs are well thought out. The characters have proper diction and speak accordingly to their appearance. For example, the knight is a burly individual who is not the brightest bulb in the box. Therefore his voice mirrors a husky and warrior like individual. Not to mention, the narrator’s tone is not too deep, but not too high pitched. He speaks at a proper pace that is story like. It is very well done.
Finally, for $29.99 on Steam, Trine delivers a fun and exciting experience for single-player as well as local co-op. Although some may find the lack of replay a bit depressing, it is fun to try and get all the experience vials and hidden chests.
Players have the option of using the keyboard and mouse or the controller. Although it is a bit of a pain to tailor the correct buttons to the corresponding moves, I found that using a controller is a much better option.
Reviewer’s note: The PC version was tested for this review
The graphics are excellent, the core mechanics run smoothly, the storyline is interesting, and I love the artistic value behind it all.
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The mechanics and the physics system are designed very well, but many will notice the same obstacles are presented differently throughout each level.
The sound effects serve their purpose, but the brilliance lies in the actors and narrator. The voices match well with the character presentation, and the narrator tells a novel story.
Trine will take roughly eight hours to complete, and the co-operative mode will make you want to play it over with your friends. Aside from that, there is little reason to play it a second time through.
Trine is a beautiful game. From the graphics to the core mechanics, players will be amazed at how well it is designed.