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.
81 Comments
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Posted by chililili

Whoa. Guess I'll get this now.

Posted by troyx

hopefully the ps3 version is as visually stunning as the pc version
great review brad

Posted by Metal_Mills

Wow 5 stars. Still, a bit pricey...

Posted by ColumnBreaker

Trine is an amazing game. So much infact, that the price doesn't bother me in the least.

Posted by JoelTGM

I played the demo and it rocked.  I will buy this later on because at the moment I plan on buying BF 1943... or how about screw that, I'll buy.. both!  hahaha

Posted by CitizenKane

Sounds awesome.  I should get the demo and play it.

Posted by Akeldama

its definitely worth it guys. Dont let the price throw you off. This game is wortth it. 

Posted by piderman

I was a bit annoyed by the imprecise jumping in the demo, I think I'll give it another try with my xbox controller then :)

Oh, and thanks for doing these PC reviews Giant Bomb :D

Posted by HawkSE

Nice. I would totally say that it is a 5/5 regardless of the $30 price tag I paid.

Posted by TwoOneFive

gonna buy it ASAP! THANKS!

Posted by burnin_squirrrl

The demo was pretty fun, i might wait until the PSN release hope it'll look as good. (crossing fingers)

Posted by ververdan0226

Good review Brad. Will probably pick up on PSN.

Posted by Tordah

Nice to see another developer from my country (that is not Remedy Entertainment) make a great game!

Edited by JJOR64

I'm gonna have to check this game out when it hits XBLA.

Posted by sarkeen

Woah. I guess I'll get it then.

Posted by ArclightBorealis

Woah, I was not aware of this game, but after reading the review, it does sound cool. Guess I'll try the demo and eventually get the game.

Posted by Crono

I am totally unsurprised that this got 5 stars.  After playing the demo it was a no-brainer.  Glad to have the thought justified though.  Great review, Brad, now to just wait for the PSN release.

On a side note... this game, for some reason, reminds me of a very old game:  Solstice.  If you never played the game, then you missed out on one hell of a crazy ass puzzle game (still crazy even TODAY, go play it if you can!).  I don't know why I think of that game when I see this one, but I also hear the music.  You can hear the game's intro music here.  (Seriously, go listen to it!)  Don't judge it until 8 seconds in.  It's pretty awesome for an 8-bit game.  I guess I remember it because Trine's Wizard vaguely reminds me of Solstice's Shadax and Solstice's music was very catchy.

Posted by sheik3008

the demo was alright...

Posted by jNerd

Oh god this sucks!!! I wish Atlus would hurry up! I read this review & was ready to go download it now! lol :P

Posted by Bigandtasty

hmm, first five in a while. I think I'll end up waiting for the XBLA version though

Posted by Bishop113

Five stars, really? I didn't think it was that good.

Posted by coaxmetal

I played the demo and loved it, but what I really want is co-op. And, the make-or-break for that would be online co-op play, which is not supported (no networked form is, you just need to plug in 2 controllers or one and have one person use a keyboard). Sadness.

I would have jumped right on it if it had that, but, as it is, I won't consider purchasing it unless it is like $5. A lot of potential, but, no online. That wouldn't have been too difficult to add in, especially on a PC release.

Posted by phrosnite

This might be a great game but it costs way to much. GiantBomb makes good reviews but do they take in account the cost of the games? If I were doing the review I would have taken away one star due to cost. 30$ is expensive for a game like that. I can't buy relatively old and better game that this for that money.

Posted by Three0neFive
@Fragstoff: Agreed. I've played the demo with a mouse/keyboard and 360 controller, and I have to admit the mouse felt much more responsive.
Posted by Meptron

it's a litle on the pricey side for a PSN/XBLA game... sucks that it's even more for the PC.

Posted by Meltbrain

Awesome! Video review! Make it happen.

Posted by Death_Burnout

Yup, Trine is way rad, love the artstyle.

Posted by Ineedaname

@Brad: Did you not find the way some of the story was told rather annoying, and it broke alot of the pace, and by that I mean the loading screens having far to much spoken dialogue.

Posted by TehBuLL

please stop comparing this game to lost vikings...it is nothing like that.  In this game you have seperate *characters* to account for your abilities.   In The Lost Vikings, you had 3 seperate people you had to move through a level.  Took alot of thought and this game is just hoping to cash in on the *geek* factor of it.

Posted by Southgrove

The only bad thing I have to say about Trine is that the animations are a bit off, atleast the jumping animations. Looks like some invicible hand just pulls the characters up by the hair. So 4.9999 Stars from me ;)

Posted by MattyFTM
I'd recommend playing the game with a gamepad over the mouse and keyboard
This is the only part of this review I disagree with. Controlling the Wizards abilities with a gamepad is clunky and makes me want to kill myself (or at the very least, stop playing). The mouse does this so much better. Most of the other controls are slightly better with a gamepad, but the improvement is minor, whereas the improvement to the Wizards controls by using a mouse is substantial.
Moderator
Posted by Azteck

Too bad the XBLA release is far off. ;-;

Good review nonetheless, Brad.

Posted by MartinG

That's a pretty good score. I might check this game out. Thanks for the review.

Posted by Royale

I played through the demo and agree about the controls... I want to play more, but feel like I'd enjoy it more on a console.

Edited by Brad

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.
Staff
Posted by Media_Master

such a nice looking game

Posted by dusanvf

I played it last night and i can't wait to play more! fantastic and innovative game. A must for every fan of videogames, puzzles and fun.

Posted by giyanks22

Nice review Brad...

Posted by Malio

"Since I'd recommend playing the game with a gamepad over the mouse and keyboard anyway,"

Console fanboy, lol.  Game is great with keyboard and mouse.  If you liked Lost Vikings, get this game!

Posted by RHCPfan24

I will check this out when it arrives on PSN. It's nice to hear that this is a great game; I haven't heard much of it beforehand, honestly.

Posted by supercubedude
@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 the clarification. Great review, Brad.
Posted by cyrax

The demo was fantastic. I'll get this eventually. There's already too many games I'm playing right meow.

Edited by Brackynews
@phrosnite said:
" This might be a great game but it costs way to much. GiantBomb makes good reviews but do they take in account the cost of the games? If I were doing the review I would have taken away one star due to cost. 30$ is expensive for a game like that. I can't buy relatively old and better game that this for that money. "
I was thinking the same thing before I finished reading the review (since it was discussed on the Bombcast), but then I started thinking about subjective versus objective value.  Maybe I earn three times what you do, or maybe I earn less, but it's my decision if a game is worth its price. (It's normal for me to buy $60 titles once they approach $30.)  Whereas the controls, graphics, and finesse of the puzzles can certainly be assessed and compared objectively, by an experienced reviewer.  Also the odd mix of prices and release dates for this title is unusual, and it seems unfair to dock marks for cross-platform politics that the developer may have no control over with multiple publishers.

I do believe GB and most sites take the full retail price into account when reviewing, and Brad said waiting for PSN was a valid option.  Heavenly Sword comes to mind as the textbook example of a game that was both hyped and lived up to its production values, but it was maybe a third of the length that people wanted, and therefore didn't offer a good value compared to other games.  The ensuing debate over is your gaming-time worth MORE than $10 per hour was very interesting.  Well made games can certainly be overpriced, but you can't toss out a star based on price, only a certain expectation of value for the experience you get. (See The Orange Box and Braid)

How much fun/joy/time do I expect out of a $30 or $20 game?  Depends on the game.  In the case of Trine of course you can't rent it to completion, but there is a demo, which is more than we usually get for WiiWare, VC, or portable titles, for example.  And it's worth pointing out that North America has the cheapest game prices in the world, compared to retail in Japan, Australia, and the UK.

Finally I'll just come out and say anyone is an idiot for letting the price predetermine the quality of a game in their mind, without having even tried it, as you seem to indicate by saying "might be" and "like that".  If someone is a bargain-bin gamer, that's fine, go nuts on Steam or in Walmart.  I won't judge what you consider "value".  Complaining about the prices of games they've never played just makes them look like a cheap jackass.
Posted by uskomaton

While you're waiting for this game to appear in your retail locations, get their last game Shadowgrounds, it is pretty awesome as well and for those who like hard games, it's that too.
With Trine and Alan Wake (hopefully) coming this year it's great to be a finn :)

Posted by Jimbo

Totally my type of game, but I'm not paying £20 for something that is gonna be ~£12 on the PS3 in the US.

Sorry devs, I'm done with paying completely unjustifiable UK, PC and Digital Distribution tariffs.

Edited by Brad

Well said. And if $10/hour is the accepted value metric for video games these days, Trine on the PC clocks in at a cool $3.75/hour (at what I'd estimate is about an eight-hour length). It's as long as many $60 retail games and better than the majority of them--I can't stress how much fun I had with it--which equates to an acceptable value in my mind. Relative prices notwithstanding, I think most people would agree that eight hours of a brilliant game is preferable to 20 hours of an average one.


@Brackynews said: 

@phrosnite said: 

" This might be a great game but it costs way to much. GiantBomb makes good reviews but do they take in account the cost of the games? If I were doing the review I would have taken away one star due to cost. 30$ is expensive for a game like that. I can't buy relatively old and better game that this for that money. "

I was thinking the same thing before I finished reading the review (since it was discussed on the Bombcast), but then I started thinking about subjective versus objective value.  Maybe I earn three times what you do, or maybe I earn less, but it's my decision if a game is worth its price. (It's normal for me to buy $60 titles once they approach $30.)  Whereas the controls, graphics, and finesse of the puzzles can certainly be assessed and compared objectively, by an experienced reviewer.  Also the odd mix of prices and release dates for this title is unusual, and it seems unfair to dock marks for cross-platform politics that the developer may have no control over with multiple publishers.

I do believe GB and most sites take the full retail price into account when reviewing, and Brad said waiting for PSN was a valid option.  Heavenly Sword comes to mind as the textbook example of a game that was both hyped and lived up to its production values, but it was maybe a third of the length that people wanted, and therefore didn't offer a good value compared to other games.  The ensuing debate over is your gaming-time worth MORE than $10 per hour was very interesting.  Well made games can certainly be overpriced, but you can't toss out a star based on price, only a certain expectation of value for the experience you get. (See The Orange Box and Braid)

How much fun/joy/time do I expect out of a $30 or $20 game?  Depends on the game.  In the case of Trine of course you can't rent it to completion, but there is a demo, which is more than we usually get for WiiWare, VC, or portable titles, for example.  And it's worth pointing out that North America has the cheapest game prices in the world, compared to retail in Japan, Australia, and the UK.

Finally I'll just come out and say anyone is an idiot for letting the price predetermine the quality of a game in their mind,without having even tried it, as you seem to indicate by saying "might be" and "like that".  If someone is a bargain-bin gamer, that's fine, go nuts on Steam or in Walmart.  I won't judge what you consider "value".  Complaining about the prices of games they've never played just makes them look like a cheap jackass. "


Staff
Posted by DukeTogo

Reminds me of Little Big Planet, but not gay.

The price is the only thing keeping me from buying it, $30 on steam is steep, especially since Steam has a reputation to lower the price right after you buy something.  $20 on PSN is a little better, but it's still a simple little game that is linear, if it had more depth and levels like a Metroid title I'd be all over it.

Maybe, I'll try the demo and see if I like it enough to buy it.

Edited by Morrius

You can see my review here: www.thesidequest.com

The last level of this game is horrendous. Everything up until that point is sublime.

Posted by BawaTheGamer

Looks beautiful. May play it a year or so down the line.

Posted by InsanePotato

I liked it from the demo but the Monkey Island set got my cash this week ;). Trine can wait till a steam deal.

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