Giant Bomb Review

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Trine Review

5
  • PC

The physics-based action in this puzzle-oriented platformer from FrozenByte is inventive, satisfying, and visually stunning.


The thief's grappling hook lets you go places, fast.
Every time you think about turning your back on the 2D action genre, a game like Trine comes along to remind you why this style of game still matters, and can still surprise you. The satisfaction of playing Trine hinges on a thorough physics model that touches every aspect of the mechanics, from the platforming and puzzle-solving to the combat, both melee and ranged. Every level contains enough inventive and challenging puzzles and platforming obstacles--swaddled in beautiful, lovingly detailed graphics--to propel you straight through to the end of the game, and likely leave you wishing there were even more levels to play through.

Trine has a boilerplate but somehow still endearing fantasy storyline about a wizard, a warrior, and a thief who, through an unfortunate coincidence involving a mysterious artifact, become fused into one person. Their loss is your gain. Thanks to this magical predicament, you can switch between the three characters instantly at the touch of a button. (It's quite a bit like that old pre- Warcraft classic from Blizzard, The Lost Vikings.) Since all three have dramatically different abilities, this feature is absolutely central to Trine's gameplay, which encourages you to switch around and experiment with different approaches to a given problem. There are plenty of places where you'll need to set up a solution with one character, then switch to another character on the fly--maybe even in mid-jump--to see it through.

The thief is the most mobile of the three, with a grappling hook that lets you pull off some snazzy momentum-based aerial flips and tricks when you get a feel for the way she swings. The wizard has no direct combat abilities, but he's your bridge-layer and general obstacle-goer-arounder, since he can summon stackable boxes, levitating platforms, and short bridges. And of course the warrior acts as the brawn, with a sword and shield that you'll use to vanquish the scores of skeletons that have overrun your kingdom, as you search for a way to split the three adventurers back up.

The combat controls give you a lot of flexibility.
Trine is primarily a methodically paced puzzle game, so it's high praise to say the game's combat is also a lot of fun. The thief is armed with a bow and arrow, and you can vary the tension on the bowstring when you shoot it, letting you pull fancy moves like arcing arrows over obstacles and through narrow openings when you get a feel for it. The warrior has a shield he can hold up to protect himself from any angle, and he can also pick up and throw large objects. What really makes the combat work is the aiming system, which lets you aim the thief's bow and the warrior's shield and thrown objects in an arc around the character with a great degree of precision, using either the mouse or a gamepad's right analog stick. This frees you up to do things like raising your shield over the warrior's head to protect yourself from a rain of debris, or raining a shower of arrows down over a high wall with a carefully aimed bow shot.

Trine would still be great if you were limited to the characters' basic set of abilities, but there's a thin layer of RPG-style character progression on top of the core action that lets you customize the gameplay to a small extent. Mainly, there's a level-up system that lets you upgrade each character's three core abilities with a sort of basic talent tree setup. You only gain experience points from certain enemies; most of it is embodied in little green bottles that are scattered in the hardest-to-reach places in each level, so there's a direct tangible benefit to your characters that results from exploring every nook and cranny. By the same token, you can find loot in treasure chests hidden around each level that buffs a given character's stats and gives them some bonus survival options. You can trade your gear around between characters to get the most benefit, and by the latter half of the game your characters will start to become way more powerful than they were at the beginning.

There's not much I can say about Trine's visuals that you can't see for yourself in videos, but this is seriously a fantastic-looking game. The artists use the fixed camera angle to great effect here, giving the levels a real feeling of depth with expansive backgrounds and extremely close-up foreground objects that make you forget you're only operating in a 2D space. There's also an expert use of color palette, set pieces, and environmental effects in every level that combine to establish a great sense of cohesive atmosphere. The lavish graphics don't come at a great hardware expense, either; even my modestly equipped PC kept the game locked at a fully playable 60 frames per second at high settings.

Nobody will call this an ugly game. 
You can also play Trine with a local drop-in cooperative mode that lets two or three people control all the characters at once. Three players makes the action a little too busy and demanding, and removes the ability to swap between characters entirely, which makes some of the obstacles a pain to get by. Two-player co-op feels like the sweet spot, since either player can still swap to the third character at any time to maintain that puzzle-solving flexibility that makes the single-player so much fun. And two characters can pull off some tricks you can't do in single-player, like the wizard giving the thief a levitated ride across a bottomless pit on a conjured platform. Still, I had the most fun playing solo, when I had complete control over all the characters' abilities and could use them in concert to do things in really creative ways.

It's worth noting that Trine is currently only available on the PC at a $30 price, while a PlayStation Network version is slated for release in the near future for only $20. Since I'd recommend playing the game with a gamepad over the mouse and keyboard anyway, I'd advise those with a PS3 to wait a bit and see how this less expensive option turns out. (An Xbox Live Arcade version is also on the way from Atlus, but that release is said to be several months away.) Whatever platform you play games on, though, Trine's got the gameplay and the looks to make it well worth your time and money. 

Want to form your own opinion before you buy? A playable demo of Trine on the PC is available for download. Brad Shoemaker on Google+
81 Comments
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Edited by SJSchmidt93

Why would I turn my back on the 2D action genre? 


That might be my favorite genre. Might.

Mega Man 9, Bionic Commando Rearmed, Crash Commando, and many other next gen 2D action games are amazing. I'm not sure why, but I have an insane love for any kind of 2D game...

EDIT: I'm torn. Wait for the PSN version and save 10 bucks, or buy the PC version. I think I actually prefer the wasd's compared to the D-pad so.. i don't know.
Posted by Milkman

Wait, so when does this come out on PSN?

Posted by Jimbo

I don't really have a problem with the price per se - I'd consider it worth the same as any other PC release if it had online co-op - but I do have a problem being treated like a second class citizen.

Nearly twice as much just because I'm on a different format in a different country?  Forget it.

Posted by jonac13

You can all but guarantee an eventual Steam sale, I'll just wait for that.  $20 seems like a more swallowable price for a non-full retail game.

Posted by MattyFTM
@Brad said:
" About the controls:

I should have gone into more detail. Totally agree the mouse is the better option for things like aiming the bow and using the wizard's spells, but I got used to and pretty skilled with using the analog stick for those abilities in short order. On the other hand, I VASTLY preferred a gamepad for character control and platforming; I couldn't get used to WASD for the movement, so I'll side with a gamepad on the whole.

Oh, video review also coming soon.
"
Thanks for clearing that up brad. I guess it's all down to personal preference really.
Moderator Online
Posted by Nadril

Got it today, really amazing and beautiful game so far. Really, even though it is a 2D game the visuals and music are some of the best I've seen in a game in a while. I love the puzzle elements as well.

Posted by deaux

I love a good 2d action game, so I'm glad that this one turned out so well.

Posted by exfate

This game evokes feelings of nostalgia in me that other recent 2d side scrolling action games have not for some reason.

Posted by FuzzYLemoN

This looks... kinda awesome. o_O

Posted by TwoOneFive

the background music for this video review got annoying especially towards the end. 

Posted by phlegms

This game looks awesome, but 30 euro is just too much. Hopefully it gets put on sale soon..

Posted by Metal_Mills

Do these guys work like 7 days a week or do they just upload a few things on the weekend? It seems like there's not a single day without a video or article or something.

Posted by Crono

Great review brad, I am glad you cleared up between the controller / mouse.  It is as I expected but good to have the clarification.  Also, the video review was great work, you can really tell this is a game that you enjoy and recommend based solely on your tone.  Now just to wait for the PS3 version to release.

Posted by radion_null

Off of STEAM or PSN? PSN is cheaper, but I can sataisfy my urge to play this game by getting it off of STEAM now. Oh, decisions.

Posted by artofwar420
Posted by Aeterna

@Video Review:

I've played through the game twice now, and I've not thought of doing it how you did it at @0:55. Never noticed those spikes before.I  made a tower, made it collapse and jumped on the platform. :)

Posted by Death_Unicorn

Great video review B-rad.

Posted by Nadril

Man, so I can totally relate to whoever was talking about the last level. Man, they really amped up the difficulty on it haha. Still was a lot of fun, had a real good feeling of accomplishment when I beat the game.

Posted by YoungBuck

nice review. too bad I have to wait a few months to play it on xbla

Posted by Lind_L_Taylor

Damn. I was hoping there was an Xbox game available. Guess I'll wait for it.

I've been getting back into 2D scrollers lately myself.  I've been playing Bionic Commando & I just bought N+ both on XBL.  I think it's just a cyclic trend to play something different than the usual 3D RPG or Shooter.  Lately, an RPG or Shooter just feels kind of stale for me.

Posted by DavidSnakes

Brad's karate chops are impeccable as always

Posted by DylanMMc

gettin this on PS3 day 1 mo fugga

Posted by Gnus

This is a great game, very simplistic but very satisfying to play.
The graphics are just breathtaking.

Posted by Bernoulli

Looks cool, I'll wait for the live version.

Posted by Enns

It's a fun game. I like it a lot.
I'm kind of tired of people over selling this though. It's just an updated lost vikings.

Posted by oDr3w

Cant wait for this to come out on PSN or XBLA. Looks like a great puzzle/platformer. Trine FTW.

Posted by headcase

Wow, sounds like a real sleeper hit. I'll check out the PS3 version for sure. This looks like a pretty excellent review, thanks for the PS3 pricing info.

Posted by coonce

loving the video reviews guys --- keep up the great work!

Edited by Nayson

Loved this game, I dont think I can add anything to the positive points that have already been said. The game is beautiful, but what were they thinking with that final level?  Horribly frustrating, trial and error, completely unfair and has nothing to do with the mechanics that the rest of the game is based on.   Really really ruined an otherwise fantastic experience for me.  I just dont get why they moved away from the brilliance of the first 14 levels to just ask the gamer to run at an obstacle course of instant death over and over and over until the remembered were all the traps were.     
Yep, I think it soured my experience to the point where I have changed my mind in how highly I could recommend it to others. Id still say check it out, but I dont feel like screaming it from the rooftops any more. 

Posted by Kouvero

Trine is Finnish quality.

Posted by jok3rxfear

Now, this game is one of the best examples in today's age to prove that 2D platform games will never die.