Michael Kontoudis
23 Sep, 2009

Trine Review

PS3 Review | Just Trine resist.
Trine, the new 2D platformer by Finnish development studio Frozenbyte, has finally made the epic journey from the PC to the PlayStation Network after months of broken promises and delays. As a side-scroller in fantasy trappings, Trine seems to represent something of a throw-back, yet the title’s heavily reliance on physics and ornate polygonal visuals make it something altogether different. Should gamers everywhere be ready to hack, slash and leap, or is Trine simply an indie curiosity?

From a narrative perspective, Trine is fairly middling, telling the convoluted story of three denizens of a fallen kingdom who set out to save it from the forces of darkness. A wizard, a thief and a knight each lay hands on a mystical artifact known as the ‘Trine’ which binds their souls together. United, the three beings set out to rid the kingdom of its evil undead plague. Honestly, the game’s meager plot serves only to provide an excuse for the game’s central conceit, which is to provide the player with what is essentially three-characters-in-one, each with their own unique abilities and able to be swapped at will: the wizard specializes in conjuring and levitating objects, the thief is a master archer and swings through the air by way of grappling hook, while the knight is the strongman-brawler of the trio. Each character bears his or her own strengths and weaknesses, and the key to success in Trine is their deft management. It is quite commonplace to swing from the ceiling as the thief and switch to the knight to clobber a few skeletons before conjuring a block as the wizard to activate a pressure-sensitive plate to open a door. If the core mechanic of Trine reminds you of 1992’s Lost Vikings, you are probably not alone, and truth be told, it’s far from the most original gameplay gimmick around. However, the emphasis Frozenbyte has placed on physics, and the way that their physics engine feeds into the platforming and puzzle-solving, makes Trine a somewhat unique experience.

The thief seldom looks before she leaps.

The thief seldom looks before she leaps.

Each object in Trine reacts realistically to gravity and inertia, and these forces provide the solutions to many of the game’s puzzles. The wizard, for instance, can stack blocks and conjure objects from which the thief can swing, and objects can be levitated and dropped onto the heads of enemies or thrust through crumbling walls to clear a path. Trine benefits from a notable sense of weight, with the enemy skeletons crumpling in a satisfying manner after being bludgeoned, and swinging from platform to platform as the thief is never anything less than joyous. The only issue is that the platforming action and puzzle-solving in Trine are simultaneously smooth yet clumsy; the physics which elevate the title into something fresh and interesting sometimes prove to be its most significant flaw. Instead of tight, consistent platforming, Trine sometimes offers up the same muddy, imprecise, jittery action which typified the most frustrating moments of LittleBigPlanet. The unpredictable flexibility offered up by Trine and its physics-based gameplay is never quite enough to truly scupper the fun, but it certainly puts a dent in a generally enjoyable experience. Rounding out the experience is a light spattering of role-playing elements, with secret items providing the trio with health and damage boosts when equipped and certain abilities able to be leveled up through the collection of ‘experience’ vials scattered throughout the levels. This delicate mixture of combat, platforming, puzzle-solving and role-playing in Trine is certainly compelling, often evoking the charm of classic Castlevania games.

Trine’s presentation is largely beyond reproach; barring some bargain-basement ‘cut scenes’ comprising still art and hokey voice over, the game is a pleasure for the eyes and ears. The art style on offer is at once brooding yet whimsical, irreverent yet atmospheric, and each of the dozen or so levels is exquisitely detailed and sports sophisticated lighting and particle effects. There a few aliasing issues and the frame rate in one particular environment often slows down to a crawl, but overall, this is one of the more captivating and aesthetically-charming downloadable titles to date. The soundtrack is comprised of the typical lilting, folksy fare, content to be perfectly lovely without ever being rousing or bombastic, and the voice acting on offer is broad, corny, but too infrequent to irritate.

Environments are often gorgeous and atmospheric.

Environments are often gorgeous and atmospheric.

Importantly, Trine never outstays its welcome; while it is not a long or especially deep title, Trine has enough meat on its bones to satisfy those gamers who harbour reasonable expectations of downloadable titles. Local co-operative play for up to three players is fairly rewarding, requiring a large degree of teamwork and extending the title’s lifespan. On your first run on the default difficulty, Trine should last anywhere between four to seven hours, although this figure should be expanded if you are a completionist dedicated to seeking out every last collectible, secret and trophy on offer.

Ultimately, Trine is a laudable effort, representing a satisfying blend of action, platforming and light puzzle-solving the likes of which is seldom seen in modern gaming. Attractive, charming and fun, there is little which can be said against it save for the occasional frame rate hitch or physics-related clumsiness. Gamers starved of the joys of 2D platforming action would be remiss to miss it.
The Score
Trine is an amalgamation of true and tested old-fashioned ideas gussied up with a modern twist, and is never anything less than beautiful, engaging and enjoyable despite its occasional lack of polish. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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4 years ago
Trine is a great game and worth the investment of your dollar and time to play. The three player co-op is excellent. I am glad it was worth the wait icon_smile.gif
4 years ago
Sweet review icon_smile.gif

This is exactly my type of game icon_smile.gif
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  15/09/2009 (Confirmed)
  Direct Online by Publisher **
  Action Adventure

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