Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Trine [Review]

Trine is a side-scrolling platformer and a gorgeous one at that. If you can imagine a fairytale come to life with high resolution graphics, Trine is exactly that. Most of the environments are in the woodlands, complete with detailed forested backgrounds, glowing plant-filled foreground, and all manner of platforms and traps. The screenshots really don't do it justice; it really looks nice is what I'm trying to say. The gameplay is that of a platformer,but it is anything but simple. The physics are incredibly smooth and responsive, and you take advantage of this realistic environment with three different playable characters. They consist of a wizard, a thief, and a knight. You play as one at a time, and you magically switch between them by pressing the shoulder buttons.

The thief is the main platformer, with her special abilities being a grappling hook and bow & arrow. The grappling hook is reminiscent of bionic commando; you can hook onto wooden platforms and swing about to either leap over a trap or do a tricky swing onto the platform itself. The bow & arrow is of course for long-ranged combat. The knight is reserved for combat, with his sword swings smashing through enemy skeletons, and shield protecting against attacks. The wizard is where it gets interesting. The wizard can move objects with telekinesis and create objects like boxes and long planks to form platforms. By moving certain objects and forming objects where necessary, you can solve puzzles and get to places you couldn't get to before. It has you thinking and trying out all kind of different things, and the responsive physics really makes the experience satisfying.

Sound and music are plenty decent, with a very traditional medieval fantasy-esque soundtrack and some very mellow, calming tracks during gameplay. The story is told completely through voice acting. Voice acting is very good, and most of the talking goes on during gameplay. The story, however, is told by a narrator, and is only told during the loading sequence between levels. It doesn't go out of its way to be an epic tale, so it isn't too interesting and I often just skipped these narratives so I could get started on the platforming again. It isn't a fault however, and it's great for the sake of being there.

There is a very straightforward leveling system, with experience being picked up in little bottles and gotten by slaying monsters. Once you level up, you can use that level to upgrade a character's attribute. There are also special items you can find during the levels, each with special properties. These little RPG elements are very nice bonuses, and add a little variety to the gameplay. Another feature worth noting is multiplayer. All you need to do is press start during a level and a second or third player can join in. Multiplayer is actually loads of fun, and each player can only be one specific character at a time to cooperate with the other player's special abilities. 

Despite being simple fun, its platforming physics can frustrate you at times. Because it is so responsive, you may sometimes slip off platforms and take heavy damage if you took too hard a jump, or your boxes can slip and fall causing your plank-bridge to fall apart. These are mainly technical difficulties and you must simply work around them to continue. Combat is also a bit more emphasized than it should be. The best part of the game is the platforming and puzzles, but combat draws itself out longer than it should with frequently respawning monsters. The knight's sword swings aren't exactly subtle either, so you may take a few hits if you're not careful. The game is generous with health potions and checkpoints, so these things shouldn't be too much of a problem. 

Trine is simply enjoyable, and you can have loads of fun with its lengthy main adventure, all the secrets hidden in each level, and some multiplayer. It looks great for a downloadable indie game, and has some rock solid platforming. It is totally well worth its $9.99 PSN price, so I recommend you try it for yourself. 

[C.Jin's Overall Score:  8.5/10]


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