Trine

Seeing that I haven’t read a new comic this week and my cache of pre-read stories is running low, I think that I’ll grab hold of the amorphous nature of my blog and do a video game review. Today, I bring your Trine.

Trine is a game that has been out for quite a while, but I only got/finished it recently due to the big Steam sale a bit back. I’m justifying reviewing it by knowing that most of you are cheap bastards who won’t drop five bucks on a good game if it doesn’t have at least one head explosion in the trailer. It was developed by Frozenbyte, a Finnish group that defines the term “indie” if only by their abysmal sales and lack of catalog. Their first game, Shadowgrounds and its sequel, was a top-down alien shoot-em-up that failed somewhat. They came to their senses, luckily, and released Trine.

Trine (try-nuh) is a game based around enough physics puzzles to make Valve’s collective pants shorter. Basically, go from one end of the chaos-filled dungeon to the other by any means possible.

The plot is kind of weak, I will admit that. Basically, a standard fantasy group (minus a cleric) of a bumbling wizard, an agile thief, and a meathead soldier all touch the same magical Plot Explaining Device called a “Trine” at exactly the same time (apparently they couldn’t see each other, somehow) and it bound them all together into one body. Now they move as one, with one person’s “image” being active at a time. Yeah, you don’t play this for the plot.

No, no, you play this for the gameplay. I almost shiver at saying that, I’ve been a longtime hater of anyone who skips out on plot for gameplay, but it works for Trine. Each character has its own abilities; the wizard can conjure up basic geometrical shapes to stand on, the thief has a bow and an awesome grappeling hook that can latch onto anything wooden, and the soldier has a shield-sword combo that’s relevant in about 1% of the game. Seriously, Soldier is fucking useless.

Anyways, you use 2/3 of the team’s abilities to run, jump, fly, bash, etc. your way though the levels. The beautifully rendered levels. There’s a lot of design that goes into all of it and it shows. Every backdrop and surface has a magical, living feeling to it, as if we’re going back to the idealisitc world of fantasy, instead of the “nitty-gritty” new fantasy. The world shines in radiance, even when you’re crawling through caves, simply because everything is very shiny. It’s very pretty, for you tl:dr crowd.

So yeah, it’s a great game that you can probably beat in 4 hours, max. Hey, it’s either that or go see a movie, and guess which one is more fun.

The only real beef that I have with Trine is that it’s too easy. The game suffers from a design flaw that really can’t be avoided by how the game is step. See, the characters don’t have a shared health bar between them, each on has its own. Thus, it’s possible for the thief to be dead but the other two alive, or perhaps the wizard is the only one left and has to survive by dropping boxes on people’s heads, and so on. This is a logical method of doing things, except for one tiny thing: the level design. You can’t ressurect the fallen comrades until the next checkpoint, so the game needed to have a way that either

(a) Gave you a checkpoint right before you got to the point where only one character could do it

or

(b) design the level so that any one of the three (okay, one of the two) could get to the next checkpoint alone.

This has caused the problem where the thief’s hookshot/portable swinging vine can be used to solve practically every single puzzle in the game. Almost everything in the world was wood, and once you got the hang of a move that had you swinging up onto the platform that you were attached to, you could pretty much beat 90% of the game. All you need is a bit of manual dexterity and the occasional reflexive move, something that a gamer has in ample supply. Seriously, there was times when I would trek all the way back to the checkpoint so that I could rez the Thief because the other two were next to useless. Well, the Wizard wasn’t, he could stack a thousand boxes on top of each other and pass any “get over this wall muahahahah” puzzle with ease. It almost makes you feel guilty for not using the level as the designers made it. After all, you can usually look back after hookshotting your way across the room for the fiftieth time and see a rather clever path that you could have taken. However, it was unnecessary.

Eh, Trine 2 is in the works, supposedly, so maybe it’ll get better.

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