The number three is intrinsically linked with religion, mysticism and physics. In Christianity we have the Trinity, there are the three jewels of Buddhism, Hinduism has the Trimurti, and Taoism has the three pure ones. Plato split the soul into three parts, Karl Marx had his three isms and our universe itself has three spatial dimensions (so far).
Three is indeed a magic number. Is Trine worthy of its mystical namesakes? Read on to find out!
Trine is a platformer built around a unique premise: players juggle between three main protagonists, each with very different skills, guiding them over platforms and negotiating the many physics based puzzles. The reason for these three unlikely allies being thrust together? Well a bunch of the undead are fighting the kingdom, so the cheeky thief, Zoya, decides to nab an artifact of great value amidst all the chaos.
As she does this both the wizard, Amadeus, and the knight, Pontius, come in and find themselves inexorably linked to this item. With the three now bound to the artifact, which is in fact the Trine, the game really kicks into gear.
The presentation, from music to the map screen to the voiceover work, is very reminiscent of the Fable series. The narrator should be singled out for special praise as his voice work instantly submerges the player deep into the game. Everything has a idyllic fairytale charm to it on the map and loading screens.
The first thing that will strike you about Trine is just how beautiful it all looks. The thief moves gracefully, the Wizard’s robe sways gently and the knight has an almost stumbling quality to his run. The animation invokes that same feeling that was present when I first set eyes on the Prince of Persia’s movement. The backgrounds for each level have also clearly been lovingly crafted; the lighting of fire, lamps, spells and moonlight all add depth to the scenery.
Approaching the game’s many puzzles is an open ended affair. Some will go with the athleticism of the thief and her grappling hook, others can take a more pragmatic approach with the Wizard’s manipulation of boxes and other items. As the game progresses, the more the necessity to know each character’s skills becomes apparent. Only through combining the three at your disposal will later puzzles be completed.
Developers Frozenbyte have implemented a straightforward experience system into Trine. By collecting the green containers littered throughout the levels, players will accrue experience points that can then be used to level up abilities. Defeating enemies will also increase this. Abilities include upping the amount of arrows the thief can shoot at a time, charging sword attacks for the knight and increasing the number of items that the wizard can conjure to solve puzzles.
In an age where many of our game characters are multi-skilled and carry an arsenal of guns that could rival that of a small battalion, it is welcoming to see a game that has three very different characters for the player to switch between. If all of the skills of the thief, wizard and knight were to be thrust onto one character, the game would lose an immense amount of its charm. It brings us all back to 16-bit era title Lost Vikings, in how the player must juggle the abilities of three different characters to progress.
Taking on the game’s enemies is nearly as much of an open ended affair as the puzzles. Those wanting to get right into the thick of the action can hack and slash with Pontius; Zoya’s bow lends itself to sniping enemis from afar; and though Amadeus is useless in combat directly, he can be used creatively in conjunction with the others later in the game.
Experimentation plays a big part in Trine. As has already been said, puzzle solving can be approached in many ways. Combining abilities and thinking outside the box can produce some exceptionally pleasing results – when it works. The game never really feels unfair and definitely rewards those who like to approach puzzles from an unconventional angle.
This open ended approach to puzzle solving would be impossible without a flexible game engine in place. Luckily such an engine is present in Trine. Every item in the game feels weighty, due to the brilliant physics engine, allowing items to be thrown around and react as you would expect. Seemingly random experimentation is almost as much a pleasure as playing through the game properly.
Sometimes the game can be quite unforgiving – characters can take a little too much damage too quickly, and checkpoints tend to be inconsistent in their spacing. These issues are far from game breaking but they can be annoying , particularly when they result in the need to repeat a particularly tricky section. On my playthrough I did notice a couple of visual bugs, but with so much physics flexibility this can be forgiven.
Local multiplayer can be joyous, with each player relying on the other to navigate the levels. Getting the knight through some platform areas is almost a puzzle in itself. Sadly there is no online multiplayer, so if you can’t get your friends all in the same room, this feature will be useless. Perhaps a future update could include this option, though more realistically, we may have to wait for a sequel to see this.
Trine is a unique experience, something that can be so difficult to come by these days. Its 2D gameplay will not appeal to everyone, but those who enjoy it will find a charming, deep and above all lovingly developed title that leaves the player rewarded for having played it.
While some may find the story cliched, the way it is presented is top drawer. Great narration and a unique art style immerse players.
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Trine is an excellent old school platforming mixed with some excellent physics based puzzling, and is very rewarding.
As mentioned, the voicework is great. The soundtrack also suits the game's theme perfectly, as do the pleasing sound effects.
The lack of online multiplayer means any real longevity dies as soon as you tire of playing couch coop.
Trine is a brilliant single player title that really rewards those that like to think outside the box, and a unique gem of a game that is definitely worthy of your time.