Trine Review
by DEADEYEZ


Basic Information:

Developer: Frozenbyte
Publisher: Nobilis
Date of North American Release: October 22nd, 2009
Date of European Release: September 17th, 2009
Price: $19.99
Trophies: Yes


Overview:
Originality is something that the majority of Playstation Network games are lacking. Trine is an immediately likeable title with enjoyable but somewhat repetitive gameplay. Players will be impressed by the stunning visual backgrounds and scenery that fill the landscapes of the game. However, the lack of flowing dialogue and, "been there, done that", gameplay greatly weighs down the potential this title may have contained.

Singleplayer was a frighteningly short experience for the price point the game is sold at. With an initial launch of only 15 levels, once you beat the game you are pretty much done. There is nothing to do aside from replaying that which you just beat. Unfortunately, this will scare the majority of the hardcore gamers away. Do not get me wrong, Trine is a journey that most will not want to miss but it will not be a disappointment if avoided.

Trophy hunters will be happy to know that this is one of the few network games that includes a platinum trophy. Overall with 33 trophies to unlock they will prove to be very challenging achievements. So if your looking to ace this game be prepared to spend a decent amount of time on it.

Gameplay:
Newton's law of gravity is a concept that most downloadable games ignore. What comes up, must come down and you better get used to that (and other real-world physics) in Trine. Most gamers have come to love the 2D side scrolling genre from past console generations. However, the genre gets a major push ahead with Trine's appearance on the Playstation Network.

Trine is a 2D side-scrolling action game based on real-world physics. Three unique characters are playable while you have your run against the undead in hazardous, puzzle-like situations. Timing, patience, and a keen eye for detail will get you off to a great start within the universe of the Trine.

You see, the world is constantly impacted by every footstep you take. When you're walking on a bridge, for example, you will notice that it will sway ever so slightly, jumping on the same bridge will have it bounce up and down erratically. Other games will have an arrow your character shot continue on the flight path, uninterrupted, until it reaches its mark. However, in Trine that same arrow will slowly descend to the ground as gravity takes its toll. Depending on your character choice, these physics will (sometimes literally) determine if you sink or swim.

The world around you is just as important as the characters you will be playing as. Players can change on the fly between three separate classes - a wizard, thief and a proud knight. The puzzles you will encounter on every level will require each unique skill set that these classes possess. At one moment you may need the wizard to use his magic to move a gigantic rock out of the way, while the next moment sees you breaking down a wall with the knight.

Many people reading may be unaware of a key feature that the wizards use in this game. With the right analog stick, you control a cursor on screen (similar to a PC mouse). While holding the button and moving the right stick you can “draw” objects to help you get around puzzles. Unfortunately, the game limits these objects to squares and lines, but you determine the size.


Real world physics... the main selling point of Trine.

Players will find it hard to put down the controller once you get addicted to the gameplay mechanics offered by Trine. I found swinging on the Thief's Spiderman-esque rope to be incredibly fun, and a unique experience that changed the way I played levels. Instead of carefully hacking and slashing down the undead skeletons, I could glide over their heads and reach a vantage point where I would be untouchable and able to snipe them with my arrows. You see that’s another great addition to Trine… choice!

The levels you play in can be completed in any way you choose. It is up to you if you want to run straight through the map and finish as fast as you can. However, I recommend you decides to explore and learn of the rewarding alternate paths. Scattered on every level are hidden treasure chests that contain various gear that can be equipped on characters, as well as hidden experience point bottles that are necessary in order to level up!

That's right, I said it, leveling up is a key part of gameplay within Trine. You can slay monsters to earn experience, but bottles of the stuff can also be found in caches hidden throughout the levels. Every 50 experience points you collect lets you level up. Whether it's being able to create more objects as a wizard, fire more arrows as a thief, or just have a better chance at a critical strike as the Knight, the option to increase your ability is there.

Other than the features listed above, gameplay is quite standard and keeps to the basic formula of side scrolling 2D games. Kill these monsters, move forward complete the puzzle and repeat the entire length of the level with a random “boss“ thrown into the mix. This is the biggest flaw within Trine, and makes the price tag of $19.99 (without tax…) seem just a tad bit too high for the gameplay that is being offered. There are some cool, unique features, but at the core, Trine is a basic 2D side-scroller.

Singleplayer:
Since when has it become the standard of all Playstation Network games to become storybook-like (Fat Princess, Critter Crunch, ect)? Yet again players are forced to listen to a never-ending dialogue for the entire game. The first and last levels are the only parts in the game where they throw a few cutscene pictures at you to keep your interest. After that you are stuck watching a map (only in loading screens) and the same voice talk for the entire game. At the start of levels the characters will throw in some random dialogue that really feels forced. Thankfully, that IS only at the start of the levels.

From the start of the game to the finish, the storyline failed to draw and keep my attention. You see our three characters souls all get stuck together because of an object called the Trine. How or why they get involved with the Trine will be explained in the first level in the game - after that, it's just fifteen levels as they try and reverse the process.

While each level is unique in its background and overall theme, every level is basically the same - complete a puzzle and kill enemies that get in the way. Although you can play out situations differently depending on your character choice, in the end the puzzles and the enemy locations are the same. The only break from this rather monotonous singleplayer is attempting to locate the experience bottles.


Skeletons... you better get used to seeing these poor guys around all the time!

Enemies you face in Trine are rather repetitive and are a major disappointment - skeletons for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now that would be okay if these skeletons were more variety, however, there are only really three categories: a sword; a sword and shield; and an archer skeleton. After that you can expect a random placement of a few bats that make no sense at all, or some scorpions that hang from walls and spit at you. Trine does offer a few “boss" battles, (though I use the term lightly), and sometimes you fight a giant skeleton or a weird beastly creature. These battles are a slight challenge and are, once again, thrown in a random order that makes absolutely no sense.

The entire game can be completed in about 4 hours or less, if you run straight through without any regard for extras. If you wish to hunt for experience bottles and take the side paths, the game will last around 5 or 6 hours; with individual levels taking anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.

Once you beat Trine, you are left wondering what the hell is there to do now. If you feel like it, you can choose any single level that you unlocked and play it over again. Players also have the option to beat the game again with the four difficulty levels. Overall, though, there is hardly any replay value for this game, unless you like to fancy with the options menu and watch credits for hours on end.

Multiplayer:
The only multiplayer you will be doing with Trine is with any buddies that may be over your house. Trine allows up to three players to cooperatively go at the campaign if they are sitting next to you. As a matter of fact, the game doesn't mention this feature once, so let me help you out: if you have three controllers, each person can take control of one character within the game. They can simply join in at any time by pressing the start button like a old school title would allow.

Playing with your friends can make for a great time within the game. You can play the entire game with your friends and actually work together to solve the puzzles in a LittleBigPlanet sort of fashion. The only downfall is that the game has no online multiplayer support. This is a shame because the offline cooperative play is a real blast. I could have seen this game becoming a instant classic if it only included online multiplayer support.

Technical:
If snitches get stitches, do glitches get fixes? I hope so, because unfortunately there were several glitches within Trine that I noticed - some within the first level. These glitches are by no means game breakers, but there are enough of them where you could be annoyed from time to time. Often you will find skeletons get stuck behind or in various objects. Every now and then a experience bottle will fall into a floor crack that is impossible to get to. While pressing the button in a dialog sequence they will still continue to talk. There is even a flaw with the thief’s bow from the start of the game where your character will draw two arrows onto the bow but only fire one. Nothing that is a major issue, but it's all disappointing considering the games price point.

While Trine does a decent job at teaching you the controls in the early stages, I want to note that it doesn't once mention the leveling up and item system within the game at all. I had no clue going into the game that there were options for me to level up each of my characters - the only hint is when you first level up it will tell you to press . Once you go into the menu, however, it becomes clear that you receive one point each time you level up that you can invest into different categories for each character.

When I collected my first few items in the chests, I thought, "What the hell are these used for? No one ever told me that you could wear one per character!" It was by random luck while opening my inventory, that I accidentally pressed the button on a item to highlight it, thus having my selected character equip it. Oh, and apparently you can move the items to different characters as well. Good luck figuring this out on your own, O defenseless casual gamer!

There is one area that Trine nailed on the head - control setup. Anyone can easily pick up and play and learn the controls relatively fast. You can simply cycle through characters by pressing the and buttons. Use your special skills with the and buttons and jump with the button. Hack 'n' slash with the Warrior by pressing the button. Players can use the right analog stick depending on their character - it will: cause them to fire arrows, bring up a shield, or navigate a cursor for the magical powers. All in all, the controls are wonderfully simple.

Graphics in this game are gorgeous - maybe the best yet on PSN. The backgrounds you encounter are oh-so-pretty with the multiple color patterns and changing environments. It looks as though your character at any moment could jump into the background and engage on an alternate path.

However, the sound quality's monotony is awful. The same basic music will play over and over again for the entirety of the game. And the voice acting is average, if not subpar. Every time my character speaks I feel as though the dialogue was forced and unemotional. Players may want to turn on the subtitles as well, in order to counter the gross rambling that is sometimes caused by unintelligible voices.



Gameplay: 8/10 Superb
Singleplayer: 7/10 Good
Multiplayer (offline): 7/10 Good
Technical: 8/10 Superb

Overall: 7.5/10 Good


When all is said and done, Trine is an average release title for the Playstation Network with a few extra unique twists and quirks. The game is a few steps behind, or else it would have been a must-have title.

And given that it only contains 15 single player levels and no replay value, (minus trophy hunting), for $19.99 you could do a lot better in the PSN store. I would only recommend this game to you if you’re a fan of old school side-scrollers. Don't get me wrong; I had a great time, and it's certainly not lacking in the fun department. But Trine is average game, with nothing really new to offer, and nothing will really wow you when you're done.