Here’s a game that’s been kicking around for a while now (5 years), has been on my Steam list for a while now (5 years), and when I did pick it up, I managed to finish it in about 6 hours. Game time lengths are something that I’ve started paying more attention to in the last few years. Fewer games are capturing me for more than ten or fifteen hours. Is my adult attention span declining steadily back into a child-like state? Or possibly reaching adulthood means I have adult commitments and I can’t just sit on my arse and play video games for hours on end without remorse. Whatever the reason is, I’ve started to prefer games that can be completed in under ten hours as they don’t take me months to finish.
Anyway, back to reviewing a video game, Trine, produced by Finnish developers Frozenbyte, is a side-scrolling platformer which follows the story of 3 unprepared heroes who are accidentally and simultaneously bound to a device called The Trine. This means that only one of them can inhabit the physical realm at a time, a mighty inconvenience. They set out on a quest to separate themselves from The Trine, which on the other hand, also turns into turns into a mighty convenience as it becomes a quest to save the kingdom from the undead hoard who have invaded. These inconveniences and conveniences could be largely due to The Trine’s uncanny level of sentience and desire to save the realm.
As mentioned, Trine is a side scrolling platformer with a huge emphasis on platforming. You switch between the three heroes, each with distinct abilities, to allow you go from the start to the end of the level. Your thief, Zoya, has a grappling hook, turning her into a pseudo-spiderman. The wizard Amadeus, asides from having no musical talent or knowing any of the cool magical spells, can conjure platforms, boxes and floating triangles. Pontius the knight… well he’s pretty useless when it comes to jumping delicately between platforms but very useful for bashing the shit out of anything. This game is such a platformer in fact, that even the final boss fight is just a another level which requires quicker thinking and fingers belonging to heavy metal guitarist.
The combat in the game serves a miner delay as you either pick off the enemies with your thief’s bow or just bowl through them all with your warrior’s drunken bravery (or conjure a massive box just above a skeleton’s head, leading to a satisfying crunch). The combat doesn’t vary much as you’re either dispatching undead skeletons of various types, killing the local cave-dwelling fauna or screaming with your eyes closed as you shoot fire arrows into the sizeable troll charging towards you because you accidentally dropped down onto it’s back from your safe, out-of-the-way platform.
This all being said, Trine does get a little repetitive with new concepts and game mechanics sparsely introduced. But remember, this game is only 6 hours long (you can probably do it in half that time if you rush), so the developers can get a away with a bit of repetition. Overall, the game has the feel of a side project or uni assignment that’s become bigger. After doing some extensive research (wikipedia), it turns out Trine WAS originally a side project by one of the programmers which became a full project for the company.
So far, it might sound like I wasn’t overly fond of this game, but Trine sold me on the key fact that it’s a beautiful, well-done, simple game. It employs the 2.5D concept similar to what Deadlight did, where the background is alive and has depth, even if you can’t explore it. If you’ve paid mild attention to the screenshots, you will see that there’s an amazing attention to detail in the world you’re exploring. You’re not just jumping around on giant mushroom cut-outs with a background painted on. I think it is important for 2D platformers to show that extra dimension (see what I did there?) even if you can’t actively interact with it. It adds important depth (another one!) to a very old genre.
Trine is currently available from their website, Steam, GameFly, Desura and the Mac App Store for $9.99, Gamer’s Gate and the Mac Game Store for $9.95, GetGamesGo for $14.99, the Playstation Network and via Onlive.Cover Image