By Guest Writer Dan Lipscombe
I’ve seen Trine before, a long time ago; it was a very similar game in its premise, a game that also featured three characters that must be interchanged in order to progress further through the levels. The game I’m referring to, a classic from 1994 doesn’t feature a Knight, a Thief or a Wizard, the characters and the game itself ran on a 16-bit engine and featured none of the physics based interactions of Trine. Why do I mention this? To highlight that despite the above additions, Trine isn’t all that original, no, it was done by The Animaniacs on the Mega Drive over 15 years ago. This is not necessarily a bad thing as I’m sure there aren’t many people who played the 94 classic, but the comparison is worth noting.
Trine is a beautiful game both in looks and in concept, the former gives way to lush environments that range from forest areas where the plants vibrantly glow to underground caves where torchlight dances from pillar to post. The latter, the concept, is incredibly clever. Our three heroes, the aforementioned Knight, Thief and Wizard have been merged into one body by the mystical Trine and must make their way through levels to find answers to this new problem.
Each of our heroes has an ability to solve situations along the way, the thief can fire a bow and arrows and can also use her grappling hook to swing and traverse areas. The knight is the brawn of the group, he can throw large objects and use his sword and shield to fend off the undead and the wizard can use magic to move certain objects with his mind, he can also create new objects from thin air, like a box or a platform, proper magic then.
Our intrepid adventurers will need to use their abilities in what, on paper, must have seemed like cunning puzzles, but are in reality, inspired to start and dull after time. Tasking you with how to move from one side of a level to the other, there are often several solutions, but usually the easiest or silliest will work. An example of this would be a section where I had to get from one platform to a ledge where I could move on, between them a gaping hole with an acid like substance below. I’m sure there was a very intelligent way of solving this quandary; however I decided that by drawing a box in the bottom and then leaning a platform on the wall from the top of the box and jumping on the end of it to safety was best. It seemed awfully stupid but it worked.
And that feeling continues throughout the game, the feeling of stumbling through the game with blind luck or stupidity. While each puzzle is likely designed with a technical answer, practically all of them can be solved by putting your hand into a box of random thoughts and pulling out the answer. That isn’t to say that this is a terrible thing as you are still solving the puzzles, it just would have been nice for some of them to only have one specific solution and really get you thinking.
This feeling of so close yet so far can also be applied to the combat. Selecting the knight results in your regular hack and slash affair which is accompanied by aiming his shield by using the right analogue stick, this is initially quite fiddly but after time is no problem at all. Although each swing of the sword lands with a satisfying thump, it’s in the enemies that the combat falls short. As the, at times, seemingly endless spawning skeletons march at you they are incredibly easy to dispatch, allowing them to hit your shield and then lowering it to slash them three time and kill them.
The problem is that each skeleton runs the same AI pattern, so for large portions of combat you’ll often find yourself rooted in one spot until the horde finally quits and lets you carry on with moving through the level. Hold shield, swing sword, hold shield, swing sword, seemingly ad infinitum.
As with most of the game, everything seems fantastic in concept but perhaps doesn’t deliver fully, leaving you wanting more. Even the RPG element left me feeling a little empty, when moving through the levels you will find experience potions that eventually level you up and give you skill points to spend, while an interesting dynamic it seems a little pointless when this gradual power increase could have been achieved by using the story or something similar.
Under all of this negativity on my part, this is a game that can be entertaining. The dynamics between the three characters is often fun and the story is entertaining throughout. When playing through the levels, there are moments where you may stop in your tracks after doing something particularly impressive or maybe even to admire the scenery. Trine, like the artefact in the game, is a conundrum, on one hand it has terrific visuals, hypnotising sound and genuinely great ideas but on the other, the ideas become tiresome and the action is a little repetitive.
Trine has something for everyone, it can appeal to all levels of gamers and is overall, a good platformer, it would have been nice to see some of the ideas a little more fleshed out and see a lot less repetition in the core of the title but overall if you can look past these flaws, Trine is a fun experience, much like Yakko, Wakko and Dot’s from 1994.