Trine Review (PS3)
A good platforming game that brings alot more to the genre than the usual installments
Trine is an action platforming game for PS3 and PC, and soon rumoured for Xbox Live. It is developed by the Finnish company Frozenbyte, who are known for their fun top-down shooter series Shadowgrounds. The game was released on PSN in October, with a retail release possible soon. Having played both Shadowgrounds games, I was fairly confident in Frozenbyte’s attempt at a new genre. With Shadowgrounds, things were kept simple and fun, engaging the player without completely drawing them in, and that was appreciated by many. After initially playing the Trine demo, I was very impressed with what the developers have done. They went in a totally new direction with a platform action game, and an artistic design that felt very fresh and beautiful to look at. With little hesitation, I started on the full game and something like 8 to 9 hours later I completed the campaign on normal difficulty. While the core elements showcased in the demo remained in tact, there were a few welcome and some not very welcome surprises.
The story of Trine is heavily reminiscent of a good old-fashioned fairy tale. It’s even told in much the same classic narration and character exposition. In the game, you are in control of three characters, with the ability to switch between them at any time. This ability is explained in the story – in a magical world, a King has passed away, and no worthy successor was chosen. Many tried but failed to control the throne, and while the humans were busy with the power struggle, an evil power emerged and consumed most of the world, sending its inhabitants away and turning the rest into a skeleton army. As the attack of the dark forces reached an Academy on the outskirts of the Kingdom, our three characters are introduced. The Thief, an agile woman who wants to use the attack on the Academy as a distraction, to steal a precious stone waiting inside. The Wizard, a known womanizer even at his old age, who simply wants to escape the madness via the Academy’s abandoned halls. And the Warrior, who has sworn (to himself) to protect the Academy, is out to stop the Thief. One by one, they each find the magic stone in the catacombs, and as they see and touch it, they are stuck. When Warrior, the last to arrive, touches the stone, they vanish, and become bound by the magical powers. They are now bonded together as one soul, with the ability to shape-shift among themselves at any time. They then march on to first escape the threat, and also to find a way to break the spell and separate themselves. They traverse much of the Kingdom’s lands in search for a cure, but they also want to find a way to stop the Undead army. The rest of the story is actually pretty generic, which you can discover for yourself. The game’s single player story takes about 7 hours, depending on how good you are at the platforming elements. The local Co-Op is also available, and it can be pretty fun to play with the right amount of teamwork involved. Several Steam achievements are also available, though they kind of give away story spoilers, so avoid looking at them for your first playthough.
As mentioned, you can play with three different characters – Thief, Wizard, and Warrior. Just to be clear – you progress “as one”, so it’s not like you have to get all 3 characters from one end of the level to the other separately. They all have the same physical attributes, such as size and jump height. One exception being the Warrior weighs more, but this is only noticeable during underwater sequences. The Thief is the first character introduced. She is a soft spoken individual, out to get her prize and get away with it. Her weapon is the bow, which shoots arrows either nearby or far away, depending on how long you hold the “fire” key. This also affects the accuracy of the shot. The Thief’s second ability (right mouse click) is the grappling hook. The hook will attach only to a wood surface, and you can swing on it like a rope. You can adjust the length of your rope at any time, so the hook can often be used to pull yourself to a higher platform, rather than just swing across danger pits. Thief is often needed to get to bonus items scattered around higher platforms, she is by far the best way to move around with speed and over long distances (horizontal or vertical). The Wizard is, appropriately, the weakest fighter. He has no direct attacks, and can only push enemies back from him for a short while. The Wizard is mostly used for puzzles, crossing dangerous waters and other platforming elements. The Wizard has the ability to create objects (number is varied), such as square blocks (which are good as stepping stones, or as a height boost), linear bridges (mostly used as a ramp or to cross a small opening), and a floating platform (used later in the game to traverse large gaps, and can even be used to fly the Wizard around for a short time). To create these objects, you simply hold down the Fire key and draw the object’s shape in the air. It will then appear, and using the Right mouse key, you can move this object around the world as you wish. The Wizard is also able to move pretty much any physical object in the world, such as stones, spikes, and other debris. Lastly, the Warrior is the obvious choice for combat. He is the only character which can defend from any attack thanks to the shield, and dishes out nice damage with his melee weapon. Most of the fights with the Warrior consist of blocking, and then counter-attacking until the enemy is dead. This works for the most part, but if you are facing multiple foes from both directions, blocking becomes quite challenging. The Warrior can also lift any objects lying around the levels, and throw them a short distance. He also has the ability to Charge, but it’s not that useful.
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