|System: PS3 (PSN), PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Frozenbyte||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nobilis||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 22, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-3||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Caleb Newby
The PlayStation Network has had more than its share of quality games gracing its online network over the last year or so. Making a concentrated effort to offer unique and high quality games exclusive to the system (at least time-based exclusives), the platform has put forth offerings that should make Xbox 360 users drool with envy - a big step considering the PS3 was, in many respects, a distant second to Microsoft's console when it came to online offerings. Not so anymore, as the PSN's latest release Trine continues the trend as a high quality game wrapped in a beautiful package.
Trine is an action/puzzle-platformer that will evoke fond memories of The Lost Vikings for those fortunate to have played Blizzard's popular title. In Trine, three characters are bound together for a mystical journey: a knight, thief, and wizard. Each brings a unique set of abilities to the table essential to the completion of their journeys. Each offers completely different experiences and play styles. When playing with a group of three, it's good to know who you prefer, as you can't cycle between characters like you can in one or two-player games.
The knight is perhaps the easiest and most straight forward of the character classes. He wields a sword and shield and is the savior of the group when the party is attacked. His shield can block incoming projectiles and falling rocks, making him particularly durable and handy to have nearby for a fight. The other characters are moderate at best in combat, making the knight Mr. Popular when the group is confronted by an army of skeletons.
The thief character, my personal favorite, is easily the most nimble and mobile character from which to choose. Her grappling hook can attach to any wood surfaces on the level, allowing her to swing and jump or scale her rope to the top. Where other characters are forced to deal with precarious jumps and traps, there are often ample opportunities for the thief to completely bypass them all together with a few slick moves and wait for her partners to make the trek over. In addition to her grappling hook, the thief has a bow with an unlimited supply of arrows, ideal for taking down enemies from a distance or at least attempting to do her best knight impression when stuck with the wizard.
The wizard is the most unique of the characters and allows for a lot of fun and creativity. Unable to learn the elusive fireball spell, the wizard instead has mastered telekinesis and can manipulate objects from a distance; often serving as the only solution to a particularly nasty puzzle. He also has the ability to conjure. By drawing on the screen using the right analog, the wizard can create boxes to use as stepping stones to reach higher areas, block incoming projectiles, or drop on top of enemies. All this comes at a price as the wizard is unable to defend himself in any traditional manner in combat, making him a sitting duck unless he's able to quickly draw a box to fall on the offenders head.
Characters level up as a group along the way, giving ability points to spend on upgrades to skills. The knight can get a hammer to smash objects, upgrade his sword to a flaming sword, and lift and throw heavy items. The thief can eventually fire up to three arrows, loose a flaming arrow that also serves to light dark passages, and charge her bow quicker. The wizard's upgrades come in the forms of being able to conjure planks and floating triangle platforms and being able to summon more than one at a time. The upgrades give just enough sense of progression to the game and character management without bogging down the main gameplay.
Speaking of gameplay, Trine is a 2D platformer full of lava, water, enemies, fireballs, and several other assorted deadly mechanisms. Characters must work together, utilizing the unique skills each has to offer, to get to the end of the stage. Things start off simple enough and don't provide much of a challenge, serving as an informal tutorial on the controls and abilities at your disposal. For me, somewhere around the two hour mark was when I found myself all of a sudden dealing with some much more precarious situations while wondering how I could possibly make it over the lava-filled floor, land on each tiny platform while avoiding the swinging spiked balls, all the while not getting shot by the trigger-happy skeleton across the way. More often than not it was some wizard ingenuity that saved us and kept the group alive. With all of the perils in the way, it's a good thing Trine doesn't punish too harshly for dying.