What we liked:

+ Wonderful graphics
+ OH SO MUCH Charm
+ Old school gameplay mixed with current generation

What we didn't like:

- Imbalance of character abilities
- Co-Op doesn't really work for PC
- Variety is the spice of life, and the undead

DEVELOPER: Frozenbyte   |   PUBLISHER: SouthPeak   |   RELEASE: 07/10/2009

Congratulations it’s a Trine!

The above hook line wasn’t created just so I would be consistent with my clever one-liners, but is the perfect sentence to describe this game. Trine is what would happen if Fable 2 and Lost Vikings met at a Christmas party, had a little too much eggnog, and then found themselves in a bathroom stall.

The look, charm and overall presentation is definitely from the Fable side of the family. Its oozes the same kind of magical wonder that Fable had: the environments are bright and full of life and fun to be in and look at. I know I am probably going to say this far too many times, but this game just has so much charm to it from the little things happening in the background to the voiceover. Voice, and even the dialogue between the three heroes is both funny and also, damn it, charming. The oaf-like personality of the knight always talking about how he is going to smash this or that, or be the king of the castle, the sly smooth voice of the thief, and inquisitive nature of the wizard all help to separate but also united the three, allowing them to be more then just different models that you hop through.

That is probably what sticks out the most about this game, the level of polish and mouth-watering graphics. I remember thinking how good the Knights armor looked, and how surprised I was when my leaping thief had her robe flying behind her in the wind. The music is also top notch, changing depending on where you are. It can be a soft flute like music in a forest level, and more drum based in some of the sinister areas. Overall the music and voice over work have a fantastic level of polish that add to the overall presentation of the game.

On the game play side this is all from The Lost Vikings side of the family. The gameplay is a side scrolling platformer with 3-D elements. When your characters meet at the Trine at the start of the game they are all merged into one body and throughout the game you can switch between them whenever you need to get through the levels. If there is a large gap that needs to be crossed, use the wizard to create a plank; or if you need to swing over a pit, use the thief’s rope hook to swing across. Each character has a different set of tools and abilities – the wizard can create objects by drawing them out with the mouse, he can learn up to three with the first being a box that you can use to either crush enemies or help you get up to a high location. In addition he can also pick up or manipulate almost any object with his levitation power. The thief can use her bow and arrow to kill enemies, or her hook rope to pull herself up to out of reach locations or to swing across dangerous areas. The Knight is all about attack, he starts with a sword and shield which can be used to block fireballs or destroy waves of enemies, and in addition he can learn to pick objects up and throw them around.

Now as you play you can find objects that can improve your characters, stuff like breathe under water forever, more mana, or more crit chance, but they aren’t needed to play the game. In addition green orbs are either found or gained by killing enemies and when you accumulate enough these will level up your heroes and let you improve or gain new abilities. Now you must be thinking what happens if one of your heroes dies? Well if you die with say the thief, you will respawn a few feet away where it’s safe, and you’ll get to choose one of your two remaining heroes. When you reach a check point your dead heroes will be revived and you’ll gain some health and mana back. If all your heroes die you’ll have the option of reviving all three of them at the nearest checkpoint.

Now the levels themselves are built like giant puzzles and each area is always going to need you to use at least two of your heroes (maybe your wizard is going to need to get a wheel turning so that your thief can hook on and use it to get across). Even the areas where you’re underwater demand teamwork – sometimes one character will start running out of breath and you’ll have to switch to another to make it.

There are however a few problems with the game that stop it from reaching the upper echelons of gaming greatness. The enemies are lacking pretty severely in variety. The vast majority are all Skeleton’s, each with different abilities, and it was ok for the first part of the game but I thought the type of undead I would see would escalate and change. Another issue is the environments. While they are wonderful to look at I sometimes found myself fighting to see where I was supposed to go or where my characters were. It didn’t ruin any section of the game, but it was an annoyance on a number of occasions. The last major issue I found with the game was the usability of the different characters. I found myself using the thief the vast majority of the time.

Her bow attack is good enough for killing enemies that aren’t coming in waves, and her rope hook can be used to solve almost every environmental puzzle. I found myself just switching to the wizard just so that he would get some use, and the Knight was only really key for the times that you had to fight the hordes of enemies or didn’t want to time your jumps in a fireball situation. The Wizard by design lacks a direct form of attack, which I was fine with for almost the entire game. It was fun dropping boxes on a skeletons head and watching it crumble, but when the spiders and bats get introduced if the Wizard is the only character you have left he only has one option – and that is to die. Dropping boxes on spiders and bats doesn’t work so you’ll find yourself swarmed and killed pretty fast.

The game also comes with a co-op option, but one that doesn’t really work for PC users. It’s fun to do if you have gamepads, or console controllers to connect to your computer, but there is no option for online co-op. It allows you to have two going through the game at once, which means you can try out different methods to solve and traverse the levels that would otherwise not be possible.

Overall this is a fantastic title. I loved it from start to finish, the look, charm and old school fusion gameplay made this a welcome treat to the otherwise wasteland that is the summer release months. I expect that this title will do well with gamers on PC and console and you shouldn’t be surprised to see a sequel sometime in the future. My only question after finishing the game was why are PC gamers paying 10 dollars more?

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