Trine Review

By Darryl Kaye on September 23, 2009

Trine arrives on the PlayStation Network after already seeing a release on the PC earlier this year. It's developed by Finnish company Frozenbyte and looks to blend 2D platforming with puzzle elements, all inside a fantasy world. To mix things up, it offers three different styles of play, which can be changed on the fly. Does this succeed in making for a unique experience that's worthy of fans of the fantasy genre?

Being a game set around fantasy, Trine succeeds in coming up with a unique plot. During a time of darkness, a thief manages to sneak inside a vault full of treasure. However, she is drawn specifically to one item. At the same time, a Wizard and Knight are also compelled to join her and together they touch the Trine. By doing so, they merge their three souls into one, which in turn spurs their quest to become individuals once again. Things aren't necessarily as simple as they might seem though, as the Kingdom is going through a time of strife.

Unfortunately, the story is a fairly shallow affair. There are small pockets of narration scattered throughout the game, but it's generally to give a brief explanation about why the next area needs to be explored. The ending is still somewhat rewarding though, even if the build-up isn't of the same quality.

However, the narrative isn't the main reason to play Trine, that's the gameplay. In an attempt to make things feel unique, the game offers three completely unique play-styles. These can all be switched to in real-time, so it's easy to adapt to the present situation. It also effectively means that the player has three lives, as upon the demise of one character, they are able to shift to another one. The game only resets to a checkpoint when all three souls have been killed.

The Thief can use a bow and arrow, while also using a grappling hook, the Wizard can use telekinesis, while also generating objects such as boxes and planks and the Knight is much more akin to hack 'n slash. Generally each character has a situation which suits their abilities, but it's possible to despatch the majority of enemies with any of the characters. However, it seems that The Wizard is generally best for puzzle solving, the Knight for taking out enemies quickly and the Thief for dealing with hard-to-reach ledges and enemies. It's a system that works really well, and switching between them feels perfectly natural, as does controlling their abilities.

Each of the characters makes use of the right analogue stick for one of their abilities. The Knight's shield direction mimics the direction of the stick, while the Wizard's items must be drawn on the screen before they will appear. The only one that feels sligtly un-natural is controlling the Thief's bow with the stick, as it fires once players let go. The only thing that's essentially shared betweeen the characters is the jumping, something which often defines a platformer. Unfortunately it doesn't feel quite right in Trine. There's often a sense of uncertainty when making jumps, and it detracts from the good gameplay elements that are featured.

The locations featured in the game offer a decent challenge, and the puzzles often require outside the box thinking. They help to keep the gameplay fresh, and the last level in particular offers a unique challenge. However, one element that feels a bit stagnant is the challenge proposed by the opposition. There is a very limited range of enemies in the game, and their attacks are very generic. It's probably the most disappointing element of Trine and it's definitely something that could have been greatly expanded upon.

Trine looks great and the levels really do promote the fantasy that features within the game. Many of the levels manage to feel completely unique, and this is a testament to the art style. The characters look nicely detailed, and their animations are extremely smooth. The score is also very well done, and accompanies the game nicely, as does the voice work, when it's actually featured in the game.

Despite being relatively short, Trine does actually offer a reasonable amount of incentive to replay. For those who like to achieve everything in a game, there is plenty of stuff to collect while playing through. Upon completion, it also gives statistics for each level, so players know how much more they need to obtain to complete a level entirely. There are also some unique trophies, which should keep players occupied. There is also a co-op mode which can be enjoyed locally with up to 2 other players.

Final Thoughts

Trine is a gorgeous looking game, and one that really creates a solid fantasy atmosphere. However, its controls aren't necessarily the most polished, and the lack of a story with any real depth could scare some people off. There is also a limited range with the enemies, but the same can't be said about the gameplay mechanics; the three-style play definitely helps to keep things fresh. Trine is a solid platformer, but there is definitely room for improvement.

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