Trine (PlayStation 3) review
... the fiendishly challenging rotating seesaw requires a more elaborate strategy
"Once upon a time", the narrator assures you, accompanied to Ari Pulkkinen's playful soundtrack, "there was a King". Naturally, there's a kingdom as well. And magic. I'd be sceptical about the magic if I were king, because it always means trouble. But the King and his wizards fashioned three powerful artefacts, each representing the important parts that make up the wholeness of things - the mind, the body and the soul - and so maintaining balance and almost certain prosperity in the kingdom.
Unfortunately, the artefact representing the mind has, minutes of story-telling time prior to the game starting, been lost. And so the kingdom falls into chaos and disaster.
As a result of this, for a variety of random yet interesting reasons, a thief, a wizard and a knight each make their way to the Wizard's Academy vault. And due to yet another completely random accident with magical artefacts, they become inexplicably linked together. Until they can break the spell - or save the kingdom, as faery-tale narratives often allow for - whichever comes first.
After the magical accident, the game functions like so: at any given time, you can switch between the three heroes. Or if you are playing with friends in front of the TV, play either two or all three characters at the same time. Any character not played will disappear into the Trine again (for that is what the artefact is called). So that the player, or the players, can use the different abilities of the heroes when they are needed, to progress through the levels.
As far as design goes, using each individual hero's strengths to complete the puzzles is what the game revolves around. Whether it is using the knight to fend off undead, while the wizard levitates a broken bridge, so the thief can jump across to the next checkpoint. Or if it's slowly building a tower of planks and boxes to reach a wooden support further up - that the thief can then expertly grapple with her hook.
Of course, the fiendishly challenging rotating seesaw requires a more elaborate strategy - because of the wholesome physics based gameplay, and the different weight of the characters for example. Which makes the characters on the screen indirectly interact with each other through the environment.
The game may not be a graphical marvel in pseudo 3d - but it is very beautiful. And the bridge between the detailed character animation and the physics based levels is so well done that the flow of the game is very pleasing - you rarely seem limited by game-world constraints that do not make intuitive sense: in spite of the world detail, the characters believably belong there.
Frozenbyte also avoids the typical pitfalls with dynamic games like this - the puzzles are not too guided, or completely without direction. Some sequences perhaps are less interesting to play without using all characters at the same time. And others can simply be solved by using the same method repeatedly, since the game does not force you to change strategies very often.
Meaning that it's possible to play this game in different ways: either rushing through it in about 6-8 hours. Or otherwhise enjoying the journey for at least 10 - and like other enjoyable experience, still wish that it could go on for longer.
Trough the magic of thorough playtesting, the game also lacks the typical objects plastered to walls, snaking ropes, or sliding objects with no weight - that always tend to show up in physics games. Which adds to the flowing gameplay experience. And along with the rest, makes the whole game - like the trio of heroes, and indeed the fictional Kingdom - being larger than simply the sum of the individual parts put together.
Trine is a cooperative or single player fairy-tale platformer presented in pseudo 3d. Whether it was because of Ari Pulkkinen's soundtrack, the faery-tale narrative, the lush art-direction, the briefly introduced but interesting characters, or the surprisingly successful physics based local multiplayer - this game charmed me completely.
the fiendishly challenging rotating seesaw requires a more elaborate strategy
Community review by fleinn (September 25, 2009)
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