I don't know why I'm up this late, yeah I know why. I was too busy playing Trine. Tonite, when I got home I was doing my regular webcrawls for news. I spotted on Kotaku.com the demo download link for Trine, a game that I've been tracking for awhile. DEMO HERE, or go to Gamesplanet. Thanks Kotaku! And it is confirmed that Trine will be released Friday, July 10th.
First off, this is not a MMORPG, but I am a gamer through and through. I feel it's such a good, fun game that you'll appreciate it. This review is subject to change and will be revisited once the game is on full release. And if you have a complaint about reviewing a demo, people review a beta, it’s the same thing. The demo gave me just enough to make a lasting impression.
Trine is a downloadable action platform game , that pays tribute to Lost Vikings and Earthworm Jim. Developed by Frozenbyte and Nobilis, Trine is set to release this month, you can download the demo at this site and pre-order on Steam and Gamesplanet.
Using physics in a fantasy based setting, the player navigates through different screens or “rooms” where you can use three different characters, the knight, the wizard or the thief. Each comes with different abilities that interact with the environment and other characters abilities as well. Using these skills to defeat enemies, collect items and solve puzzles to progress through the story. The 3 Amigos are switchable at any point using the 1,2 or 3 button on the fly, taken into consideration they are still alive. Energy potions, mana potions and experience pots are bountiful but not all easy to get to. I found the most useful character for me, was the thief.
Equipped with bow, arrows and a grappling hook, she nimbly jumps and swings over most obstacles. Most useful in rooms with pits, snares and suspended platforms she can hook onto almost any reachable surface to quickly get you past some unreachable places. Her weakness is the fact that she has no hand to hand melee abilities but can shoot from afar. For most brawling and bruising I would use the warrior.
Tough ole bugger he is, comes equipped with a sword and shield that can hack through most breakable barriers and makes use of skeletons and other nasties rather quick. He’s heavy in full platemail, so if he falls on something most likely it’s dead; I guess that’s a simple law of physics. If you are the hack and slay type then he’s your frontman unless you need to solve a puzzle that needs some finesse, that’s when your wizard comes in handy.
The wizard is the most interesting of the three. He has to abilities from the start, he can use levitation to pick up any loose object in the environment, and there are A LOT of loose items lying around. He's not a total weakling, he can create a large crate out of thin air and drop it on somethings head. The levels are setup very interactive, and if you don’t have a crate handy, then he can make one this ability to help things along. Very cool!
The graphics are rich and colorful, painstakingly designed by the developers. I felt like I was pausing at every screen and room just to take in the background, the environement looked and felt alive. From glowing vegetation, moving clocks and bright windows I never felt as if I was looking at the same background twice in a row. I don’t recall in the hours that I played that I recognized anything from room to room. Frozenbyte did an excellent job.
Character design is simple enough, however if you pull in friend to coop with you, that opens up more interaction between characters and environment. Looking at some gameplay video, it seems to speed up the game and flow through the puzzles faster. If you press I you bring up an inventory where you can upgrade skills as your characters collect experience and leve, also 3 different slots for different equipment and weapons.
With the exception of the wizard and the thiefs grappling hook, the knight and thief are simple creations of the theme, easy to use and very necessary with the mechanics. Although I can see further expansions and additions of new characters, new weapons and armor with different abilities to interact with old ones, there is a ton of room for growth here. This adds the rpg element to platformer, not new, but very well done.
Character design: A
The mechanics of Trine is where it shines, we saw how fun physics could be from games like Halflife. And how Valve innovated those mechanics in Portal, where you were able to fly, jump and make yourself dizzy with a gun that didn’t shoot. Trine ties that together with on a side scrolling game play that never gets boring, ever. You find yourself dropping boxes for weight, swinging fist-like hammers to break walls and occasionally having your character pole-vaulted across the screen to either land on someone or simply get to the other side.
Some of the puzzles can be real brain teasers that require multiple character abilities to solve and I wasn’t able to get to all the goodies stashed around the rooms. I’m just not that good yet. Honestly the controls were very easy to use W,A,S,D and left and right mouse click. Also, you’re never at a point that you cannot see what you’re doing because the screen moves with you back and forth, your cursor is where most of the action takes place from.
Controls and Gameplay Mechanics: A
Now I’m not going to get into detail about the story, that’s for you to find out. Sorry, no spoilers here. But it is narrated between loading screens and during gameplay from someone who sounds like he should be narrating a children’s story on TV. A soft, soothing paternal voice that get’s you interested right away from the start. Trine has a good story so far that I haven’t heard in its entirety and I’m sure that I’m not going to get it all in the demo. So I still score the story that so far is very interesting, original and well told by our trusty narrator.
You can download the demo for free, which is a plus. As any good game usually comes with a no-risk demo and this is actually a very small one (461 MB). I haven't run into many bugs, so it's a clean play as well.The Demo only gives you two levels but I kept on dying and had to restart many times, it's not an easy game either. Five hours, I was hooked! There are savepoints that you can continue from and that you can resurrect characters from, once. If you run out of people then it is going to be very hard to finish the level, and if you are staring down the barrel of a bunch of skeletons with just the weakly wizard, good luck. If you lose all three then you have to restart from a save point.
Due to be released this month, downloadable first for PC then farther out for PS3, your spending a whopping 40 bucks. This is a pro-polished game from an indie-developer that's well worth your money. I feel that $40 is fair and if it keeps these new developers in business to create this type of product, then I am definatetly going to invest in this game and support the devs. I can’t wait to play this with a friend or two, it’s a blast. I feel that Trine along with Frozenbyte and Nobilis will be around for awhile.
Price and Availability: A
It’s easy to see why Trine won Gamespot’s Editors Choice Awards for Best Downloadable Game from E3. This is a well made game both graphically and creatively. It’s not the first and only platformer to ever use physics to solve puzzles; they just do it really well. The replay ability of this game is yet to be seen and cannot just be judged by the limited demo, but from what I have seen so far this one is going to be a hit. I’m almost sure that the full scope of Trine will be when you play co-op via the internet and that will be the judge in the long run. Most platforms suffer from lack of replayability because once you beat it, you beat it. Unless the makers of Trine can capture that addictive quality and that air of competitiveness like the old Mario Brothers games I can see it having a problem with staying power. But for the experience and the addition to your gaming library I definitely would recommend it and you have to try the demo for yourself.
Game Player Average: 4.0, A must play.
I hope you can find time to give your MMO a break,